7-run eighth sparks St. Mary's at Minute Maid

Ninth-inning homer lifts Arkansas-Monticello in Game 2; St. Cloud wins after big first in Game 3

Game 1
St. Mary's 10, Henderson State 5

HOUSTON -- Zach Johnson tripled and doubled in St. Mary's seven-run eighth inning to propel the Rattlers to a win over Henderson State in the first of three games Saturday in the 2016 Houston Winter Invitational at Minute Maid Park.

St. Mary's, which pounded out 15 hits, broke open a tight game with seven hits in the eighth. The inning included a two-run single from Matt Smith, putting the Rattlers ahead, 6-2.

Smith collected three hits and three RBIs. Bryan Ramirez, who homered in the first, had two hits and scored twice for St. Mary's (3-2). Benefiting from the Rattlers' late-inning surge was Kyler Lambert (1-0), who earned the win in relief of starter Ty Miles, who allowed two runs and six hits in five innings.

Jordan Taylor, who had three of the Reddies' eight hits, blasted a three-run home run in the ninth into the Crawford Boxes in left field. Jay Hawley (0-1) took the loss.

Henderson State (2-3) scored a run in each of the first two innings to take a 2-1 lead. The Rattlers went ahead 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh on Jack Kaiser's single that scored A.J. Perez.

The Reddies threatened in the eighth, putting runners on first and second and one out in a 3-2 game. Then Oscar Sepulveda came in relief and struck out A.J. Kruzel and Tadarious Hawkins to end the threat.

St. Mary's also scored 10 runs on Friday in a 14-10 loss to St. Cloud State in the six-team NCAA Division II tournament, co-hosted by the Astros and Central Missouri, alma mater of Astros owner Jim Crane.

Game 2 
Arkansas-Monticello 5, Central Missouri 4

Brian Ray broke a tie with a two-run homer in the top of the ninth inning to lift Arkansas-Monticello past Central Missouri. Ray's blast to right field was a no-doubter, just inside the right-field foul pole, scoring Kevin Fitzpatrick and giving the Boll Weevils a 5-3 lead. Fitzpatrick led off the ninth by being hit by a pitch from Grant Gavin (0-2).

Central Missouri (0-2), which got three hits from Jake Alexander, didn't go down lightly. The Mules scored a run in the last of the ninth to pull within one. The game ended with Derek Cornell, who had two of the Mules' nine hits, being picked off first base on a 2-3-6 rundown.

The Boll Weevils (2-0), who managed only five hits, scored five runs over the last two innings in defeating the Mules, who received an outstanding performance from starting pitcher Tyler House.

House and Grant Black engaged in a pitchers' duel. House allowed no runs and one hit over six innings, striking out nine and walking two. Black got a no-decision, allowing two runs and five hits in 6 1/3 innings with eight strikeouts and two walks. Braden Chambers (1-0) earned the win in relief.

The Boll Weevils' three-run eighth inning, which erased a 2-0 deficit, included Nick Piraino's two-run single for a 3-2 lead.

Game 3
St. Cloud State 12, Tarleton State 3

St. Cloud State got off to a fantastic start, scoring eight first-inning runs and coasting to a 12-3 win over Tarleton State.

The Huskies' win concluded the second day of play in the Houston Winter Invitational, which features six Division II teams. The three-day event concludes on Sunday with three games.

The Huskies (2-0) have not trailed in their first two games at Minute Maid Park. On Friday, St. Cloud State defeated St. Mary's, 14-10.

On Saturday, Brandon Arnold led the onslaught with three RBIs for the Huskies, who scored their 12 runs over the first three innings. Beau Fandel, Kyle Liesser and Reese Gregory added two RBIs each. Ryan Diers (1-0) earned the win, going five innings.

One of the few mistakes Diers made was to Jake Hasbrough, who connected for a two-run home run in the top of the first inning.

Zach Freeman (1-1) took the loss for the Texans (2-3).

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