The Houston Hilltoppers concluded a positive campaign this spring with a trip to North Half playoffs, the second team in the school’s history to advance as far.
The Toppers got past Kosciusko in a three-game series to reach the mark, only to face another formidable foe in West Lauderdale.
How they got there
The Toppers split with Kosy in the quarter-finals, forcing a third game May 13 that proved as competitive as the first two.
Houston held a 2-0 lead through the third but Kosy rallied in the top of the third to take a 2-3 lead.
In the bottom of the sixth, Clay Hillhouse reached on a pitching error, Hunter Moore singled and both advanced on a pass ball. Junior Garrison Howell ripped one past third and down the baseline for a two RBI double to put the Toppers in the lead, 4-3. In the bottom of the frame, the Toppers got a ground out and Hillhouse snagged a shallow fly at short, then turned the double play to Reid Carter at first to move the Houston boys to North Half.
The Knights were the only team Houston lost to in division play during the regular season, so the team was familiar and knew they would be tough to handle again this time.
After taking an 11-1 loss in Game One, the Toppers put up one final stand May 16 on the home field.
The Knights took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second, loading the bases twice. Houston pitcher, Austin Burdine, struck one batter out and Hillhouse turned a double, fielding a liner and stepping on second, then tagging out a base runner caught between second and third.
The Toppers evened things up in the bottom of the fourth as Denver McQuary and Carter both singled and Luke Hancock sent McQuary home on a shot to second. Hillhouse bunted safely, Justin Kimbrough drew a walk to load the bases and courtesy runner Zack Poteete flew home on a pass ball to tie the game at 2-2.
But the Knights added one more run in the top of the fifth and the Toppers just couldn’t get enough going at the plate to take another lead, falling 3-2 at North Half.