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College stars take stage at Minute Maid Park

Astros' annual Division II showcase loaded with action on Day 1

HOUSTON -- Henderson State, St. Mary's and Tarleton State were winners on Day 1 of the 2015 Houston Winter Invitational at Minute Maid Park on Thursday, but Central Missouri, Arkansas Tech and Winona State will have their chances to battle back as the annual college baseball showcase continues through Sunday.

Henderson State tops Central Missouri in Day 1 finale
Henderson State 8, Central Missouri 3

Henderson State received a strong pitching performance from starter Colton Lorance and went on to defeat Central Missouri, 8-3. The win by the Reddies concluded the first day of the four-day tournament.

The left-handed Lorance allowed only one hit and one run in six innings, picking up the win. He struck out four with one walk in the season opener for both teams. Jay Hawley pitched the final three innings, earning the save.

Hunter Mayall collected three of Henderson State's 13 hits with two RBIs. Hayden Lessenberry, Conner Brackhahn and Matt Evans had two hits each for the Reddies, who scored two runs in the first inning and increased their lead to 8-1 with a four-run seventh.

Tony Sandifer had all three RBIs for the Mules, who collected only three hits. Dylan Farrell scored twice. Sandifer's two-run single in the eighth inning scored Farrell and Derek Cornell. Farrell and Cornell pulled off double steals in the sixth and eighth innings.

Mules starter Ricky Rivera took the loss, allowing three runs (two earned) on nine hits in four innings.

St. Mary's Orton lights up Minute Maid Park
St. Mary's 10, Arkansas Tech 5

Leadoff hitter Brooks Orton provided the power as St. Mary's opened its season with a bang. Orton hit a two-run homer run in the sixth inning and a two-run single in the ninth to lift the Rattlers past Arkansas Tech, 10-5, on Thursday.

Orton's homer to right field highlighted the second of three games on the day. Orton's blast off Zach Skelton hit the facing of the second deck, scoring pinch-runner Jacob Marler to give the Rattlers a 4-1 lead. Orton had five RBIs.

St. Mary's added one more run in the top of the sixth to widen its lead to 5-1. But the Wonder Boys (2-3), playing their fifth game of the season, scored four runs in their half of the sixth to tie the score 5-5.

The Rattlers scored single runs in the seventh and eighth, and three in the ninth to pull away in its season opener.

St. Mary's starting pitcher Kris Gardner earned the win, allowing five runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings. Oscar Sepulveda got the save.

Bryson Morris (0-1) took the loss in relief of Skelton, who allowed five runs (three earned) and six hits in 5 2/3 innings.

Orton and Mario Maldonado each had three of St. Mary's 15 hits. Getting two hits each were A.J. Perez, Derek Hamilton, Matt Smith and Nathan Schwertner.

Collin O'Neil and Kris Ayers had two hits each for Arkansas Tech, whose first four batters in the lineup each scored -- O'Neil, Marcus Wilson, Patrick Castleberry and Ayers.

Tarleton State wins Houston Winter Invitational opener
Tarleton State 15, Winona State 2

Tarleton State's bats were considerable hotter than the weather, with temperatures in the high 40s inside Minute Maid Park on Thursday morning.

In a 12-hit attack, the Texans blasted Winona State, 15-2, in the opening game of the four-day college baseball showcase. It was both teams' season opener.

The 10 a.m. CT start with an open roof didn't seem to affect the Texans, who also took advantage of 10 walks from five Winona State pitchers. That was more than enough to make a winner out of Texans starter Matt Herrick, who allowed two runs over his five innings in a game that went only seven innings because of the 10-run rule.

Kevin Meredith had a team-high five RBIs and three hits for the Texans, who broke the game open with a seven-run fifth to go ahead 10-2. In that inning, the visitors managed only one hit with six walks and a hit batsman. The hit was a two-run double by Meredith, who scored twice.

Jonathan Schmitz added three hits and scored three times for Tarleton State, which scored three runs in each of the third and six innings and two runs in the seventh. Texans left fielder Matt Olive reached base five times with only one hit. Herrick struck out four with two walks and five hits allowed. Eythan Lenz and Troyal Yosko pitched a scoreless inning each for the Texans.

Designated hitter Jordan Plamann had two of Winona State's five hits. Plamann and Paul Mutch had the RBIs for the Warriors, with Travis Evanson and Jesus Cazares scoring in the fourth. Winona State starter Chase Blazier allowed three runs in three innings to take the loss.

Richard Dean is a contributor to
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