Friday's baseball season opener was anything but smooth as Tarleton was in a glass case of emotions that ranged from cruising by eight in the bottom of the eighth to tied up headed into extra innings before finally locking up an 11-9 win in 10 innings to open the Winter Invitational.

Tarleton's offense came to play early and often, beginning in the top of the second when Dylan Lemons led off the inning with his 13th career home run.

After Henderson State answered back with one in the second, the game stayed knotted at 1-1 until the top of the fifth when the Texan offense surged to life. Ruben Rodriguez got the inning started with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt before Blake Adams drove him in with a go-ahead RBI double to left. Adams stole third and walked across the plate when the throw down sailed into left field to put the Texans up 3-1. Tarleton added one more in the sixth when Jake Hasbrouck led off the inning with a home run to right field.

Henderson State tried to start a rally in the sixth with a pair of base runners and nobody out, but Connor Flanagan came on in relief and got a double-play grounder and fly ball to right to keep the Reddies off the board again.

"I thought Flanny came in and did a really nice job," said head coach Bryan Conger. "He's a consistent kid. You know exactly what you're going to get from him day in and day out. I thought he did well today.

Tarleton followed up with its biggest inning of the day when Francisco Rodriguez drove in Ruben Rodriguez with an RBI double and then Lemons went yard one more time for a 3-run shot to left and an 8-1 Tarleton lead. The Texans tacked on another in the top of the eighth with back-to-back doubles from Adams and Francisco Rodriguez for a 9-1 lead.

Then the Reddies started to chip away.

Henderson State scored two runs on three hits in the eighth and then tied things up with six runs on one hit and one error in the ninth. Conner Fletcher came out of the pen and stopped the bleeding by getting three ground balls to keep the game even.

The Texan offense would not be denied, however, as Stacy Heinatz got extras started with a double into left. Jake Shelbyfollowed up by grooving a full-count pitch into left center for a single before Blake Adams drove them both home with a game-winning, two-run double down the left field line.

Fletcher went back to the bump and went three-up, three-down to earn his first win of the season.

"I'm very pleased with the way the kids handled the adversity," said Conger. "They did a really good job of responding. Their ability to control their response is something I was really proud of today. In the 10th inning, they showed a lot of toughness. It was a good day one, offensively. They stuck to their approach and offensively we handled adversity. You don't see a lot of teams come back and put up two runs after giving up a six spot in the ninth.

"I thought Fletch was tremendous," he continued. "He did exactly what he's done since he's been here, which is compete. He has a calming presence on the mound. You feel like the team calmed down a little when he got out there. Then, after we took the lead back in the 10th, he came in and pounded the zone with strike one. He was phenomenal. I'm proud of him."

Evan Pontley got the opening day nod on the hill for Tarleton and twirled five impressive innings of two-hit baseball with seven strikeouts. The only run to his credit was unearned in the second inning.

Tarleton got a combined 10 hits and 10 RBI from the 2-3-4-5 spots in the batting order, including three-hit efforts from Blake Adamsand Jake Hasbrouck. Ruben Rodriguez also had three hits and a pair of runs scored in his Tarleton debut. Francisco Rodriguez and Dylan Lemons had two hits each while Jared McCarver, Luis Rivas, Heinatz and Shelby rounded out Tarleton's 17-hit attack.

The Texans will take the field for game two of the Winter Invitational tomorrow at 10 a.m. against Colorado Mines.