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Ark-Monticello, St. Cloud St. shine at Houston Winter Invitational

Henderson State edges Central Missouri to wrap first day
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Game 1

Arkansas-Monticello 10, Tarleton State 6

Game 1

Arkansas-Monticello 10, Tarleton State 6

HOUSTON -- Travis Steinke hit a go-ahead, two-run single during a four-run ninth inning to lift Arkansas-Monticello past Tarleton State, 10-6, on Friday in the opening game of the fourth annual Houston Winter Invitational at Minute Maid Park, home of the Astros.

Steinke's two-run, one-out single past third base scored Kevin Fitzpatrick, who opened the inning with a triple, and Brian Ray, breaking a 6-6 tie.

The tournament features six NCAA Division II baseball teams, playing three games each over three days. Co-hosting the event with the Astros is Central Missouri, where Astros owner Jim Crane pitched from 1973-76, compiling a 21-8 record and 2.42 ERA.

Evan Comeau had three RBIs and two of Arkansas-Monticello's 12 hits, including a two-run home run in their three-run fifth that erased a 4-3 deficit. The Boll Weevils scored three runs in the top of the first, taking advantage of three walks off Tarleton State starter Blain Bagley.

Steinke, Fitzpatrick, Nick Piraino, Jake Bever and C.J. Womack had two hits each, and Corey Wood walked three times for Arkansas-Monticello, which opened its season on Friday. Ben Aldridge earned the win with 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, during which he struck out four.

Hunter Seales had three hits, including a triple and double, for Tarleton State (2-2), which scored two runs in each of the second and third innings to gain an early 4-3 lead, later adding two more in the sixth to make it 6-6. Seales, Alec Humphreys and Dalton Richardson, who tripled, had the Texans' three RBIs.

Callaway Kirkpatrick (0-1), the fourth of five Texans pitchers, took the loss.

Game 2

St. Cloud State 14, St. Mary's (Texas) 10

Brandon Arnold was the catalyst for St. Cloud State's offensive eruption, collecting four hits, including a three-run home run, in the Huskies' 14-10 win over St. Mary's in the second of three games on Friday at the 2016 Houston Winter Invitational at Minute Maid Park.

The Huskies, who never trailed, accumulated 17 hits in their season opener with six extra-base hits. Zach Hoffmann also had a big game for the Huskies with three hits and four RBIs. Karl Sorensen scored three runs with three RBIs and two hits and Kyle Lieser tripled among his two hits.

Arnold scored three runs and drove in three while Jackson Goplen scored three runs on two hits. The offensive support helped make a winner out of starter Reese Gregory, who allowed four runs and seven hits over five innings with five strikeouts and five walks.

St. Mary's, which trailed 10-2 after four innings following Arnold's homer, scored four runs in the seventh to close out the game's scoring. Bryan Ramirez had four RBIs and three hits - two doubles -- for the Rattlers (2-2), who collected 13 hits, but stranded 10 runners. Matt Smith added three RBIs and three hits. 

Rattlers starter Jaryd Hodgson (1-1) took the loss, lasting 3 1/2 innings. 

Game 3

Henderson State 6, Central Missouri 5

Henderson State took advantage of 14 walks from Central Missouri pitching to defeat the Mules, 6-5, to conclude the first of three days of the Houston Winter Invitational at Minute Maid Park.

Central Missouri tied the game, 4-4, in the bottom of the seventh on a homer from Bennett Oliver to open the inning and Blake Wilfong's two-run shot.

The Reddies (2-2) scored twice in the eighth and withstood a ninth-inning run from the Mules to give Jordan Taylor (1-0), who threw only one pitch in relief of starter Chris Hunt, the win. Hunt allowed four runs and five hits over 6 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts and one walk.

Taylor had two RBIs and Hunter Mayall had two of Henderson State's five hits. The Reddies' Jared Gage and Jake Gaul both walked three times.

Oliver, Wilfong and Derek Cornell had two hits each for Central Missouri (0-1), which collected eight in all. Grant Gavin (0-1), the fourth of six Mules pitchers, took the loss.

Richard Dean is a contributor to

Houston Astros