Astros to host 4th annual D-II tournament

Central Missouri, alma mater of owner Crane, among 6 to play at Minute Maid Park

HOUSTON -- Several of the nation's top Division II baseball teams will be on hand at Minute Maid Park from Feb. 5-7 for the fourth annual Houston Winter Invitational tournament.

The tournament will feature six teams playing nine games over three days. The list of teams participating includes Texas schools St. Mary's (San Antonio) and Tarleton State, as well as the University of Central Missouri, which will serve as co-host of the tournament with the Astros.

The Winter Invitational also features Arkansas-Monticello, Henderson State (Ark.) and St. Cloud State (Minn.). Among tournament participants, St. Cloud State enters with the highest ranking in Collegiate Baseball's 2016 Preseason Poll, coming in at No. 6, while St. Mary's (No. 12) and Henderson State (No. 16) both rank in the top 25.

Central Missouri, which has co-hosted the tournament since its inception, is the alma mater of Astros owner Jim Crane, who was a standout baseball player in his college career. He played for the Mules from 1973-76, posting a 21-8 record with a career 2.42 ERA.

Crane still ranks atop the Central Missouri career leaderboards in complete games (23) and shutouts (7), and he ranks third in strikeouts (215). He still holds the Mules single-game strikeout record of 18, which is also a D-II College World Series record. In 1997, Crane was inducted into the University of Central Missouri Athletic Hall of Fame.

Daily admission tickets are now available and can be purchased for $15 for adults, $8 for students and $5 for youth. Children 3 years old and younger can enter for free when accompanied by a ticketed adult. To purchase tickets or for more information, please visit

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.