The Houston Astros will kick off baseball season at Minute Maid Park with the eight-team inaugural Astros in Action D-II Invitational, held at the stadium from Feb. 1-4. The tournament will feature eight NCAA Division-II Universities, which will square off in 15 games across the four days.
The teams participating in the inaugural Astros in Action D-II Invitational are the University of Central Missouri (MO), which will serve as a co-host with the Astros, Abilene Christian (TX), Arkansas Monticello (AR), Arkansas Tech (AR), Emporia State (KS), Incarnate Word (TX), Tarleton State (TX) and Texas A&M Kingsville (TX).
The University of Central Missouri (formerly known as Central Missouri State) is the alma-mater of Astros Owner and Chairman Jim Crane, who was instrumental in organizing the Invitational. Crane graduated from the University of Central Missouri with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Safety in 1976, while also starring on the diamond as a standout pitcher for the Mules.
Central Missouri opens the season as the No. 4 ranked D-II program in the country, according to Collegiate Baseball Magazine.
"This will be an annual premium Division-II invitational of nationally ranked baseball teams," said Crane. "It will be a great experience for the schools and the student athletes to compete in a Major League facility and be out of the weather. In addition to the Astros in Action College Classic and Major League Baseball's Urban Invitational, we're happy to give Astros fans the opportunity to see high caliber college baseball this spring."
Tickets, which allow entrance for all games on a given day, for the Astros in Action D-II Invitational are now available for sale at www.astros.com/tix/aiainvitational or by calling Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000. Beginning on Saturday, Jan. 26, tickets can also be purchased in-person at the Astros Box Office or by calling the Box Office at (713) 259-8333. Any of the regular greater Houston-area Ticketmaster outlets also have tickets for sale. Tickets are available for $10, while parking in the Astros controlled lots will be sold for $10 (Diamond Lot) and $5 (Lot A).
The University of Central Missouri Mules, who finished 48-9 last season, will co-host the tournament with the Astros and participated heavily with the planning process for the Invitational.
"We appreciate the hospitality of Jim Crane and the Houston Astros organization for hosting this Division-II tournament," said Central Missouri Athletic Director Jerry Hughes. "It's a chance of a lifetime for Division-II baseball student athletes to play in a Major League stadium like Minute Maid Park."
The Astros in Action D-II Invitational is the first of three college baseball tournaments to be held at Minute Maid Park this spring. The Astros will also host Major League Baseball's Urban Invitational from Feb. 22-24 and the 13th annual Astros in Action Houston College Classic from March 1-3. More information on both of these tournaments will be released at a later date.
2013 Astros in Action D-II Invitational Schedule*
Fri., Feb. 1
Arkansas Monticello vs. Abilene Christian - 10 a.m.
Texas A&M Kingsville vs. Central Missouri - 1 p.m.
Incarnate Word vs. Emporia State - 4 p.m.
Arkansas Tech vs. Tarleton State - p.m.
Sat., Feb. 2
Emporia State vs. Texas A&M Kingsville 10 a.m.
Incarnate Word vs. Arkansas Tech 1 p.m.
Arkansas Monticello vs. Tarleton State 4 p.m.
Abilene Christian vs. Central Missouri 7 p.m.
Sun., Feb. 3
Tarleton State vs. Emporia State 10 a.m.
Abilene Christian vs. Incarnate Word 1 p.m.
Arkansas Tech vs. Central Missouri 4 p.m.
Texas A&M Kingsville vs. Arkansas Monticello 7 p.m.
Mon., Feb. 4
Arkansas Tech vs. Emporia State 10 a.m.
Arkansas Monticello vs. Central Missouri 1 p.m.
Abilene Christian vs. Texas A&M Kingsville 4 p.m.
(home teams listed second)
* - times subject to change; games after 10 a.m. could begin up to 30 minutes prior to scheduled start time