No. 27 Tarleton State (21-7) scored three times in the bottom of the eighth inning to break a tie and defeat Division III Howard Payne (8-14) 5-2 on a damp, windy night at Cecil Ballow Baseball Complex Tuesday.
Pinch hitter Reagan Janda walked to lead off the eighth, then advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Zane Hensley and to third on a wild pitch.
Chris Cassaza walked to put runners on the corners, and Janda scored the winning run on an infield single by Tim Rainey.
Cassaza advanced to third on Rainey's single then scored on a double steal to make it 4-2.
Rainey was thrown out on the basepaths, but Nathan Hille, who walked and stole second, scored the final run on an RBI double to left by Andrew Wolfe.
The Texans needed the rally because Howard Payne erased a 2-0 deficit with runs in the fifth and seventh.
HPU got on the board when Alan Sailors scored on a Taylor Zambreski single to left in the fifth, then tied the game when Will Garlick doubled to left, advanced to third on a bunt and scored on a fielder's choice off the bat of designated hitter Carlton Brown.
Tarleton took an early lead when Chris Cassaza blasted his 10th home run of the season over the fence in left to lead off the second inning.
The Texans made it 2-0 later in the same inning when Rainey, who was hit by a pitch and advanced to second on an error and third on a sacrifice bunt, scored on another sac bunt, this one by Wolfe.
Wolfe was the only player with two RBIs. Rainey and Cassaza each had one.
Ryan Turner got the final four outs and the win on the hill for Tarleton. He is now 4-2 on the season to go with his six saves.
The Texans played musical chairs on the mound all night, as four pitchers, including starter Kenneth Stockton, worked one inning each.
Stockton issued the only two walks Tarleton handed out all night, but made it out of the first unscathed. Chuck Brown, Matt Shannon and Tanner Ross also pitched scoreless innings before Jake Sowell allowed a run in two innings of work.
Brandyn Greer gave up one run in 1.2 innings, and also recorded four of Tarleton's five strikeouts before turning the hill over to Turner.
HPU used four pitchers, starting with Jonathan Morris. He left after the third, trailing 2-0. Only one of the runs he allowed was earned.
Will Hood pitched four scoreless innings in relief for HPU, but Reed Klose gave up three runs in just 1/3 of a frame and took the loss. Corey Howie, an Eastland native, got the final two outs for the Yellow Jackets.
It was the fourth straight win for Tarleton after the Texans swept Angelo State in a Lone Star Conference series last weekend.
Tarleton hosts Texas-Permian Basin in a three-game non-conference series this weekend. Both Saturday's single game and Sunday's doubleheader are set for 1 p.m. at Cecil Ballow Baseball Complex.
The Texans resume LSC play April 8-9 with a three-game home series against Northeastern State.