HOUSTON — Texas A&M-Kingsville started its season on the right foot on Friday by upsetting fourth-ranked Central Missouri 4-1 on the opening day of the Astros in Action Division II Invitational at Minute Maid Park. The Mules ended the Javelinas’ season a year ago in the NCAA regionals.
The Javelinas (1-0) received a dominant pitching performance from a trio of pitchers. Dallas Ponder made the start and went six innings. He allowed one run on a solo home in the sixth inning but otherwise allowed just one other hit. He struck out seven batters and walked two.
Newcomer Matt Rhodes entered in the seventh and tossed two shutout innings. He struck out two batters and walked one before giving way to Jeremy Flores in the ninth. Flores struck out the side for his 11th save of his career.
The Texas A&M-Kingsville offense scored three runs in the top of the fourth. Joe Tallerine and Taylor Taska opened the frame with back-to-back singles. A bunt single by Chris Ballou followed and loaded the bases. Matt Perez doubled off Kurtis Schuyler in his first game back after missing all but six games a season ago to plate Tallerine and Taska. Ballou came home to score on an error by UCM for the 3-0 lead.
Schuler lasted four innings in the losing effort. He struck out eight.
The Mules jumped on the board in the sixth with a solo homer by Kyle Grieshaber.
Kingsville closed out the scoring in the ninth. James Black tripled off Jake Heissler and scored on a bunt single by Dustin Aguilar. In 4.1 innings of work, Heissler allowed just two hits with five strikeouts.