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Astros to host D-II college tourney in February


HOUSTON -- The University of Central Missouri, the alma mater of Astros owner Jim Crane, will be among eight college baseball teams kicking off their season in the inaugural Astros in Action D-II Invitational, Feb. 1-4 at Minute Maid Park.

Central Missouri, formerly known as Central Missouri State, is serving, along with the Astros, as co-hosts of the tournament in which 15 games will be played in four days. The other teams participating are Texas schools Abilene Christian, Incarnate World, Tarleton State and Texas A&M Kingsville, along with Arkansas Monticello, Arkansas Tech and Emporia State from Kansas.

“This will be an annual premium Division-II invitational of nationally ranked baseball teams,” Crane said in a statement. “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.”

Crane, who helped organize the tournament, graduated from Central Missouri State 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.

“We appreciate the hospitality of Jim Crane and the Houston Astros organization for hosting this Division II tournament,” Central Missouri Athletic Director Jerry Hughes said in a statement. “It’s a chance of a lifetime for Division II baseball student-athletes to play in a Major League stadium like Minute Maid Park.”

Tickets, which are $10, allow entrance for all games on a given day for the Astros in Action D-II Invitational and are now available for sale at astros.com or by calling Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000. Tickets can be purchased at the Astros box office or by calling (713) 259-8333 beginning Saturday, as well as at Houston-area Ticketmaster locations.

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.

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

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