Tanner Houck pitched his third consecutive complete game for Collinsville Monday afternoon at Fletcher Field, but this time he gave up more than just one hit.
Houck worked his way out of his only major jam to lead the Kahoks (16-12) to a 7-1 non-conference victory over Nashville.
Collinsville Head Coach Pete Trapp said Houck pitched the non-conference game Monday for a couple of reasons, with weather being the primary factor.
“I don’t know what the weather’s going to be like [Tuesday],” Trapp said. “If you wait until tomorrow, and it gets rained out, then you wait until Thursday, and that gets rained out, you just lost him for a week.”
Conference rival Belleville East, Tuesday night’s opponent, is the second reason Trapp had Houck on the mound Monday. Belleville East has not seen Houck pitch this year, and, Trapp said, he wanted to keep it that way until a possible match up in the regionals.
“Now that the conference title is out of the mix, we don’t have that to play for,” Trapp said. “That kind of played into it.”
On Monday, after first baseman Nick Chance doubled and later scored, to give Collinsville a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third, Houck found himself in a jam in the top of the fourth. Two Hornet singles and a walk loaded the bases with no outs.
Houck struck out the next two batters, but the second strikeout came on a pitch that bounced in front of home plate. It found its way out of play and the runner on third was allowed to advance for the tying run. The next batter struck out swinging, ending the inning and the threat from Nashville.
Trapp said he was happy to see Houck get out of the inning allowing only one run after loading the bases with no outs.
“Sometimes, when things get tough, they kind of escalate a little bit,” Trapp said. “He kind of found a way to get out of it. It was a very good feeling for him to be able to get out of a tough situation.”
Houck received some support, and provided some for himself, in the bottom of the fourth.
Right fielder Ryan Hoffman led off the inning with a walk. Houck followed with a single. An errant throw in from Nashville’s right fielder allowed Houck to advance to second and Hoffman to score.
The next two batters, center fielder Aaron Peskar and third baseman Daniel Franke, reached on errors. Houck scored on the first error and Peskar scored on a groundout from left fielder Kyle Reeves.
Two batters later, shortstop Grant Bauer drew a walk and stole second on the front end of a double steal. Franke scored on the back end of the double steal, giving the Kahoks a 5-1 lead.
From the fifth inning on, Houck had five strikeouts, but also issued three walks and a hit batter. For the game, he struck out 11 and gave four walks while allowing one earned run.
On the offensive side of the plate, the Kahoks also received contributions from catcher Zack Mathes, who hit a triple and scored in the fifth, Chance and Reeves, who had a single in the fifth inning. Hoffman walked three times, and Houck had a sacrifice bunt, a single and reached base on a fielder’s choice to help his cause.
Collinsville’s next game is at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon at Belleville East in a Southwestern Conference game.