Mountainburg baseball's 'commander' Houston Morris shakes off slow start vs Lavaca

George "Clay" Mitchell
Press Argus-Courier
Mountainburg's Houston Morris gets ready to throw to first to get Lavaca's Logan Price (18) out during the first inning on April 19, 2021, at the Mountainburg Baseball Field.

Mountainburg's Houston Morris understands the pressure of being a four-year starter and the lead-off hitter.

That understanding has allowed him to bounce back within the game and make the plays needed for his team as the Dragons secure a key 4-3 walk-off win against Lavaca on Monday at the Mountainburg Baseball Field.

The Dragons (6-3) travel Acorn on Thursday to wrap up the No. 2 spot before the 2A-4 District Tournament which begins in Lavaca next week.

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"It's pretty important to us. It's almost a straight shot into the regionals," Morris said. "We still have to win on Thursday to stay at that spot and get a win at the district tournament."

However, the game didn't start smoothly for Morris. His throw to first on a third-strike passed ball in the first inning went high and Lavaca was able to score two runs.

"We don't let a bad play stay around for long," Morris said. "We're good about talking each other up all the time, no matter what. I had a few errors early, but I came back to make up for it."

With the game tied 2-2, Morris threw the ball more to the outside and allowed Ryan Steinseik a better shot at catching and securing the first out. Later, Jetson Wagner tried to steal third but Morris made another the throw to end the inning. Not before Lavaca was able to reclaim the lead 3-2.

"He didn't get down on himself. He knows he has to wash that stuff off or it'll get worse throughout the day," Mountainburg coach Zach Pense said. "He's been behind the plate for three years, and he's our commander on the field."

Pense also lets Morris call the pitches when he's working with Isaac Cowlett, who picked up the win with one earned run, with 12 strikeouts and five hits.

"He does all the calling especially between him and Cowlett. I have a lot of confidence in him," Pense said. "They're good, smart baseball players so it makes my job a little easier.

"He's a tremendous catcher. It doesn't matter who's throwing. If they're throwing in the dirt, throwing inside or outside, it's going to be blocked, and we're not losing bases when he's behind the plate."

Morris leads Mountainburg in hits and steals (he added two against Lavaca). His dad, Cody, keeps the books for the Dragons and said his son is a fun person to be around on and off the field.

"Houston is laid back," the elder Morris said. "He's a good kid and doesn't get in trouble, but he's the life of the party. He's of that age that he's a little arrogant, but that's to be expected."

Morris also led off the bottom of the seventh. He was 0 for 2 with a strikeout and a hit by a pitch before he knocked a shot between second and third to get on base. Cowlett's RBI double tied the game and freshman Glavine McDonald provided the walk-off win.

"I think it took some pressure off the other guys and got them motivated," Morris said. "We've been down by one before. We just need get a base hit, and we can get after it."