LASSO IT UP

3 small-town Texas rodeos just a gallop from Houston

West of the Pecos Rodeo. West of the Pecos Rodeo/Facebook

This article originally appeared on CultureMap and was written by Cindy Brzostowski.

Football may seem like the lifeblood of Texas, but it's surprisingly not actually the official state sport. In fact, that honor goes to rodeo. When spring rolls around, over 2 million people head to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

While that big-time event has come and gone for 2019, but small towns around the state are lassoing up their own rodeos for the summer season. Break out those boots and take a road trip to one of these lesser-known rodeos.

Mesquite Championship Rodeo — 3.5 hours from Houston
What better place to enjoy the fun of rodeo than in the Rodeo Capital of Texas itself? That would be Mesquite, Texas, just 20 minutes east of Dallas. The Mesquite Championship Rodeo at the Mesquite Arena runs June 1-August 24 and kicks off opening day with musical guest Mark Chesnutt. Every Saturday there's an interactive fan experience from 6-7 pm and then a different event at 7:30 pm. Spectators will get the chance to see competitors from around the country compete in bull riding, steer wrestling, bareback bronc riding, saddleback bronc riding, barrel racing, tie-down roping, and team roping. Then, the whole rodeo wraps up with a close-out concert by Clay Walker.

Nearby attractions: While you're enjoying the state's rodeo capital, consider embracing another one of Mesquite's titles as a designated Tree City USA by the National Arbor Foundation with a trip to Trinity Forest Adventure Park. The park is less than 15 minutes from the rodeo and gives visitors the chance to tackle high ropes courses and obstacles of varying difficulty levels amid the treetops.

Big Spring Cowboy Reunion and Rodeo — 7 hours from Houston
Located between Midland and Abilene is the city of Big Spring, which holds its annual rodeo June 20-22 this year. The events include bareback bronc riding, barrels, bull riding, calf roping, mutton bustin', saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, and team roping. On top of the rodeo sport festivities, you can catch Jason Boland & the Stragglers perform on Friday evening and Wade Bowen on Saturday night.

Nearby attractions: Big Spring has two local museums: Heritage Museum of Big Spring and Hangar 25 Air Museum. The former is all about the local history of the city, as well as West Texas. The latter is in a restored World War II hangar and showcases the history of the Big Spring Army Air Force Bombardier School and Webb Air Force Base, where thousands of pilots were trained.

Continue reading on CultureMap to learn about the West of the Pecos Rodeo.

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After splitting the first two games of the series, including the extra-inning affair on Saturday, the Astros looked to defeat the Angels on Saturday to secure the series win and leave Los Angeles with a winning record. On the mound were two pitchers looking to shrug off bad debuts to the season. Here is how the game went on Sunday afternoon:

Final Score (11 innings): Astros 6, Angels 5.

Record: 5-4, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Blake Taylor (1-0, 0.00 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Jacob Barnes (0-2, 3.86 ERA).

James walks his way into trouble

After a disastrous start to his pitching season where he was unable to record an out, Shohei Ohtani was able to sit down the Astros 1-2-3 on just eight pitches in the top of the first. However, Houston would take advantage of his struggling command in the top of the second, working three straight walks to load the bases with no outs. They then would get two more walks with two outs to grab an early 2-0 lead and end Ohtani's day early yet again.

Meanwhile, on the mound for Houston was Josh James. He, too, allowed some walks but was able to work around them in the first two innings, erasing two in the bottom of the first and one in the second for two scoreless innings.

That changed in the third when he would walk the bases loaded with two outs before Albert Pujols continued his nearly twenty-year reign of being a thorn in Houston's side, hitting a grand slam, Los Angeles' first hit of the day, to put the Angels up 4-2. James would get the final out of the third, but that would conclude his day, making it two straight starts he would be unable to reach the fourth inning. His final line: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 6 BB, 4K, 1 HR.

Valdez impresses as Bregman makes it a one-run game in the seventh

Framber Valdez was first out of Houston' bullpen, likely to try and eat up several innings. He would accomplish that mission, getting through the next three innings scoreless, holding the 4-2 score. It remained locked on that score despite Houston getting runners on base in each of those innings, as they would struggle to turn players on base into runs yet again in this series.

Alex Bregman gave the Astros a spark in the top of the seventh, leading off the inning with a solo home run to straightaway center to make it a one-run game. Valdez returned for yet another inning, another scoreless frame to keep it 4-3 going to the eighth.

Reddick ties it in the ninth, Astros win in extras

Houston would threaten to tie in the top of the eighth, getting a pinch-hitting Carlos Correa to third base after a single to leadoff the inning, but would be unable to score him, leaving it at 4-3. Valdez would record another scoreless inning in the bottom of the eighth, giving the Astros one more chance to tie or go ahead in the top of the ninth.

Michael Brantley led off the inning with a double and was pinch-run by Myles Straw, who would score the tying run on an RBI-single by Josh Reddick, but the Angels would hold the Astros there. Valdez remained in the game trying to push extra innings and would do so, erasing a leadoff walk.

Kyle Tucker started the top of the tenth on second base and moved to third on a sac fly by Carlos Correa to start the inning before scoring on another sac fly, this time from pinch-hitting Garrett Stubbs to give Houston a 5-4 lead. Valdez, well above his comfortable pitch count, was still on the mound in the bottom of the tenth, and allowed his first run, though unearned, on a leadoff RBI-single to tie the game again at 5-5. He would get one more out before Houston moved to another reliever, bringing in Andre Scrubb.

After an intentional walk to Albert Pujols, Scrubb would walk the bases loaded before getting a popout, then Houston would turn to Blake Taylor. Taylor would come through, getting a big strikeout to send the game to the eleventh. Springer started on second in the top of the inning and would score and put the Astros back in front on a one-out RBI-single by Alex Bregman. In the bottom half, Taylor would get through the inning, giving Houston the win and series victory.

Up Next: The Astros will have a day off tomorrow before picking up a three-game set with the Diamondbacks in Arizona on Tuesday. The opening game of that series will be at 8:10 PM Central. While Arizona is expected to start Madison Bumgarner, the Astros will have to pivot as they had Framber Valdez slated for that start, who made a lengthy appearance out of the bullpen on Sunday.

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