HOUSTON - For a while, it looked as if neither team wanted to win. Then it looked as if neither Amory or Houston were going to give in.
In the end, Amory won for the fifth straight time Thursday night, a 12-10 win at Division 2-3A rival Houston.
It wasn't as easy as it sounds though.
The Panthers scored four runs in the top of the sixth inning, chasing Houston starter Landon Brister after taking a 5-1 lead on Wesley Boock's two-run single, a long single that hit the base of the leftcenter field wall.
Houston scored the next seven, all with two outs in the sixth, but Amory battled back for the next six, all with two outs in the seventh.
"We both had opportunities to shut the door at different times," said Houston coach John Ellison. "You've got to make the plays. It usually comes down to a mistake or two. We stranded some guys early and made some mistakes toward the end that cost us."
John Ryan Porter started the Houston rally with a two-run double. Latham Brister added a two-run home run. Wesley Smith's double ended the night for Amory starter Kyle Montet before Jacob Shempert's bloop double tied the game at 6-all. Landon Brtister reached on an infield single and Shempert scored on an existing error to put Houston back on top. Jacob Long's RBI single put the Toppers ahead by two and ended the night for reliever Stephen Otey.
Trailing 8-6 with one out to work with, the Panthers (11-6, 5-1) scored six times in the top of the seventh inning and went ahead 11-8 on Will Cox's two-RBI double.
"What I was most proud of, we found a way to score those two runs and it got contagious for us," Amory coach Chad Williams said. "Every guy stepped up and produced in some kind of way. When everybody's producing, that's big for our team."
Zack Randolph was hit by a Shempert pitch to load the bases. Otey hustled to first to beat out a grounder that was mishandled to pull Amory within a run. Montet then walked to tie the game on a 3-2 pitch. Boock's walk off new pitcher Latham Brister put Amory ahead 9-8 and Chandler Riggs' RBI single put the Panthers ahead by four.
Houston kept it interesting. With two outs and two on in the last of the seventh inning, Smith's two-run double pulled the Toppers within 12-10. Shempert singled and took second to put the winning run at the plate, but Will Cox got Landon Brister to ground out end the game.
"It's a huge win division-wise and it's a huge win against a very good opponent," said Amory coach Chad Williams. "They do a real good job and I thought their guys came ready to play today."
Shempert nearly escaped a jam in the seventh. With two on and no outs, he grabbed a liner off the bat of Drew Pickle and doubled Chandler Riggs at third base.
"You go from, you got the pitch you needed to close the door to you're in a tough situation again," said Ellison. "It's one extreme to the other. That's for sure."
Amory and South Pontotoc both have only one division loss. Amory's loss is to the Cougars.
Houston fell to 8-9-1 overall, 3-3 in division.
Boock and Shempert had three hits each.
Toppers down Tigers
The Toppers got a division win earlier in the week as they held a 4-1 lead over Nettleton through the top of the seventh inning. The Tigers tried for the late rally, but the Toppers stopped them at the plate and snagged the win, 4-2.
Latham Brister got the win on the mound and Landon Brister helped out with a single and a home run. Jacob Shempert had a double.
The Toppers were headed to Louisville on Tuesday and will host Winona on April 3.