Javelinas, Mules remain unbeaten at Minute Maid

Six-team Houston Winter Invitational concludes Sunday

HOUSTON -- Texas A&M-Kingsville came into the 2017 Houston Winter Invitational as the only unbeaten team among six NCAA Division II baseball teams competing over three days at Minute Maid Park in the Houston Winter Invitational

The Javelinas continued their fine play Saturday, winning for the second straight day at the Astros' home venue, beating Arkansas-Fort Smith, 6-1, behind six scoreless innings from starter Isaiah Lybarger in the first of three games played Saturday. In the second game, Central Missouri beat Tarleton State for its second win of the tournament, and in the finale, Chico State downed St. Mary's.

The fifth annual tournament, hosted by the Astros and owner Jim Crane's alma mater, Central Missouri, concludes with three games Sunday. Crane was a standout pitcher for the Mules from 1973-76, posting a 21-8 record and 2.42 ERA. He holds the Division II College World Series single-game record of 18 strikeouts. 

Houston Winter Invitational schedule

Game 2: Central Missouri 5, Tarleton State 4

Central Missouri benefited from several breaks Saturday, including designated hitter Erik Webb's walk-off double in the 10th inning.

Down by three runs, the Mules capitalized on six Tarleton State errors -- four in a three-run seventh inning that tied the game. The Mules won 5-4 on Webb's two-out hit to left field that scored Collin Nevil from first base.

On the strength of a three-run fourth inning, Tarleton State led 4-1 entering the last of the seventh. Texans starter Colby Fowler pitched five scoreless innings, allowing only a second-inning single to Blake Wilfong before departing.

Things unraveled quickly in the seventh for Tarleton State (6-2). Hunter Seales replaced Trevor Inman in right field to start the seventh. Seales made three errors in the inning, including two on one play.

By the time pitcher Eli McLane threw wildly to home plate, allowing Justin Graff-Rowe to score, the game was tied at 4.

With two outs in the last of the 10th inning, Nevil, who had two of the Mules' nine hits, singled to right field off Will Blanchard (0-1). On a 3-1 count, Webb doubled to left field and Nevil came around to score on a fielding error by left fielder Blake Adams.

Taylor Burns (1-0), who relieved starter Jesse Steinbring, allowed only one run and three hits over six solid innings for the win. Travis Stroup had two RBIs for Central Missouri (6-2), which is 2-0 in the three-day invitational.

Luis Rivas collected two of the Texans' six hits.

Game 1: Texas A&M-Kingsville 6, Arkansas-Fort Smith 1

Dallas Stefano, who had two of the Javelinas' nine hits, contributed to the 6-1 win with a solo home run.

Javelinas starter Lybarger exited after six innings with a 1-0 lead, having allowed only four hits. The right-hander struck out nine, walking two in getting a no-decision.

After the Lions (5-4) scored in the top of the seventh to tie the game, 1-1, the Javelinas (5-0) scored five runs in their final two at-bats to put the game out of reach. On Friday, the first day of the invitational, Texas A&M-Kingsville defeated Chico State, 4-1.

The Javelinas won on Saturday despite their pitchers hitting seven batters. The Lions scored their run in the seventh as a result of Hunter Lehman, who relieved Lybarger to start the inning, hitting four batters in his two-thirds of an inning. Lehman hit three batters in succession -- Logan Allen, Dion Williams and Kasey Cooper, to force home Jordany Santiago, who had been hit by a pitch from Lehman earlier in the frame. Cooper and Anthony Seminaris reached base twice apiece after being hit by pitches.

Sebi Palacios (1-0) was the beneficiary of Texas A&M-Kingsville's three-run seventh and two-run eighth, pitching one-third of an inning to gain the win. Dawson Floyd (0-1), who relieved Arkansas-Fort Smith starter Evan Dodd to begin the seventh, took the loss, allowing two runs in one-third of an inning. Dodd allowed one run and three hits while striking out seven and walking three in six innings.

For the Javelinas, Alex Gonzalez had two hits and scored twice, Hunter Perkins drove in two runs and Christian Caudle walked three times and scored once.

Game 3: Chico State 6, St. Mary's 3

A four-run third inning, highlighted by Jimbo Pernetti's home run to left-center, lifted Chico State over the St. Mary's Rattlers to conclude the second day of play.

Despite out-hitting the Wildcats 11-8, St. Mary's (4-5) joins Arkansas-Fort Smith as the only winless teams in the invitational featuring six NCAA Division II baseball teams.

Pernetti's second home run of the season, a shot off starter Holden Grounds (0-2), scored Josh Falco to give the Wildcats a 4-0 advantage. The Rattlers made all three of their errors in the third inning.

Chico State starter Casey Costello (2-0) threw six scoreless innings, allowing five hits and one walk with two strikeouts.

Pernetti, Andru Cardenas and Tyler Stofiel had two hits each for Chico State (7-3). Jerrett Maas scored two runs. For St. Mary's (4-5), James Gillean had three hits and Bryan Ramirez and Bryce Brandl collected two hits each.

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