HOUSTON – The Hilltoppers jumped into the first round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association playoff this past week and carried the best two-out-three series to the hilt.
Homefield seemed to help both squads as Houston took the first game Thursday against Amory, 9-5, traveled to the Panther Den Friday where they fell, 8-7, and brought it back home Saturday to win re-soundingly 12-6 in the friendly confines of Topper Field.
Houston moves on to play New Albany on Tuesday at 6 p.m. in Houston, and then an away game Thursday and possibly back home Friday.
HOUSTON – The Hilltoppers defended the home turf against the Amory Panthers in the opening contest of a three game series Thursday, April 23 with solid pitching and hitting.
Hilltopper pitching send Amory's starting three back to the dugout in the first inning and Houston bats put three runs on the scoreboard in the first inning.
But the Panther came to play and brought two runners across the plate in top of the second.
Topper bats were silent in the bottom of the frame, and Amory came back in the third to take a one-run lead.
But it was no worries from the HHS dugout as Clay Hillhouse smashed a two-run homer over the 360-foot mark to put Houston back on top by one.
Houston played it tight and got into the bottom of the fourth where they extended their lead once again, fielding every shot, no errors, no doubts.
Reid Carter was credited with three hits, Hillhouse two and Denver McQuary also notched two. Hillhouse also belted three RBI.
Carter pitched six innings and got seven strickouts. McQuary came in for one and fanned two.
AMORY – This meeting was not easily settled.
Both squads were stale in the first inning but Houston warmed up in the top of the second with two runs. Amory was also eager to show why they were in the playoffs and put on a hitting clinic scoring six runs to take the lead by four.
And the battle of the bats had begun.
The next four innings was back and forth, till the final had presented a loss for Houston by one run in top of the seventh.
The game hinged on a curious call at the plate that looked like a strike to Topper fans and was called a ball, sending in the final run and the contest back to Houston.
Zack Poteete and Reid Carter were the sticks with two hits each. Poteet and Justin Kimbrough were credited with two RBI.
Hillhouse went five inning for Houston on the mound, sending three back to the dugout and Denver McQuary got one during his stint on the hill.
HOUSTON – The Hilltoppers hit their stride and hit the ball in the deciding game at home Saturday.
Houston's no score first inning was short lived as the Hilltoppers plated five run in the bottom of the second and at least a run or more every inning on 'till the finish.
HHS pitcher Tanner Smith pitched the first two innings allowing only one hit and no runs. Amory caught on to the young pitcher in the top of the third scoring two runs.
Amory struggled to win and closed the game to 8-6, with a five run sixth inning. But the Hilltoppers came back with four run of their own in the bottom of the frame to seal the game.
Grady Nabors and Zack Poteete had a pair of safe hits each with Reid Carter whacking three RBI and Nabors getting two.
Tanner Smith struck out six over 5-2/3 innings and got 16 first pitch strikes to stay ahead in the count.
The Toppers were 22-7 heading into the series with New Albany Bulldogs who are 15-13 overall and 7-3 in their district. The Bulldogs defeated Gentry out of Indianola to get the opportunity to face the Toppers in the second round.