Henderson State remains unbeaten at Winter Invitational

Arkansas State, St. Mary's pick up victories at college showcase

HOUSTON -- Henderson State is playing the best baseball at the 2015 Houston Winter Invitational. In a battle of unbeaten teams on Saturday at Minute Maid Park, the Reddies dominated Tarleton State, 8-0.

Claude Johnson homered for the second straight game, leaving the Reddies (3-0) as the only unbeaten team in the four-day, six-team NCAA Division II event hosted by the Astros.

The right-handed-hitting Johnson's two-run home run in the eighth inning was the third baseman's third hit of the game and third RBI. In Friday's 8-3 win over Arkansas Tech, Johnson blasted a three-run homer.

In three games, Johnson has seven hits, six RBIs, two home runs and three doubles. Henderson State's final game of the invitational is on Sunday against Winona State.

Right fielder Conner Brackhahn collected four hits for the Reddies, who scored two runs in the top of the first and were never threatened. In three games, Brackhahn has nine hits. Hayden Lessenberry, Lance Fields and A.J. Kruzel added two hits each.

Cody Jones (1-0) pitched 6 1/3 innings of six-hit ball with no walks and three strikeouts. Three Henderson State pitchers silenced the Texans, who had scored a total of 23 runs over their first two games.

In the first of three games Saturday, the Reddies hit the ball well (15 hits) and received outstanding pitching behind Jones and relievers Jordan Taylor and Dylan McCain. The Reddies have hit the ball solid over the first three days of the invitational, scoring eight runs in each game.

Alec Humphreys, Brandon Villenueve and Jonathan Schmitz had two hits each for Tarleton State (2-1), which collected eight hits. Texans starter Blain Bagley (0-1), took the loss, allowing four runs (three earned) and six hits in 2 1/3 innings.

Arkansas Tech narrowly picks up first tourney win
Arkansas Tech 2, Central Missouri 0

After having a rough go of it in the first two days, Arkansas Tech got its first win at Minute Maid Park. And even that didn't come easy.

The Wonder Boys secured the win when reliever Randy Vallejo induced Central Missouri's Trevor Jones to ground out to third baseman Caleb McKinnon with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth to end the game. McKinnon's force at third gave the Wonder Boys a 2-0 win in the second of three games Saturday involving six NCAA Division II teams.

Arkansas Tech (3-4) is the only team to have played this season before participating in the invitational.

Arkansas Tech starter Cody Jones (2-0) allowed only four singles in his seven innings, with four strikeouts and three walks. Of the left-hander's 102 pitches, 65 were strikes.

The Wonder Boys' first three batters had doubles -- McKinnon, Collin O'Neil and Patrick Castleberry. McKinnon, who had two doubles, opened the game with a two-bagger and two batters later scored on Castleberry's double. Arkansas Tech added a run in the eighth when O'Neil scored from second, after his double, on a single by Bryan Heward, who had two stolen bases.

The Mules (1-2), who were outhit, 10-4, didn't mount a serious threat until the ninth. The Mules loaded the bases with two walks and a hit batsman by Vallejo, who drilled the first batter he faced, pinch-hitter Colin Frederick.

Vallejo had more success with his next batter, Trevor Jones. With Central Missouri supporters cheering, the left-handed Vallejo silenced Mules fans by getting the left-handed-hitting Jones to hit the ball at McKinnon at third base, ending the game.

Jones, Derek Cornell, Bennett Oliver and Billy Maloney all singled for Central Missouri. Mules starter Carlos D'Armas (0-1) took the loss, giving up one run and six hits in 4 2/3 innings.

Slam helps send St. Mary's to victory
St. Mary's 11, Winona State 3

Matt Smith had the biggest of the three home runs hit in Saturday's third game at Minute Maid Park.

Smith's grand slam propelled St. Mary's to an 11-3 win over Winona State (0-3). Smith's fourth-inning homer to left field gave the Rattlers (2-1) a 7-2 lead and they were well on their way to the win.

Andrew Geislinger and Tyler Nehring homered for the Warriors.

Smith had five RBIs and scored three runs. Mario Maldonado collected three of the Rattlers' 12 hits.

Drew Lamont (1-0) picked up the win. The right-hander allowed three runs and six hits in 7 1/3 innings. Will Lundquist (0-1) took the loss.

Winona State lost its first two games of the invitational, 15-2 to Tarleton State and 2-1 to Central Missouri. Earlier, St. Mary's had beaten Arkansas Tech, 10-5, and lost, 8-4, to Tarleton State.

The six-team, four-day invitational concludes with three games on Sunday at Minute Maid Park. St. Mary's plays Central Missouri in the first game, followed by Henderson State vs. Winona State, and concluding with Tarleton State playing Arkansas Tech.

Henderson State is the only team to win its first three games.

Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.