Winona State standout Tony Mueller has a future in professional baseball. His head coach, Kyle Poock, will tell you as much.


But first the junior pitcher has a little business to take care of as the Warriors are in the NCAA Division II national tournament for the first time in school history.

Mueller threw a complete game in the opening round against fourth-ranked Central Missouri and lifted Winona State to a 4-3 victory at the USA Baseball National Training Complex on Saturday afternoon in Cary, N.C.

“He is probably the most competitive player I have ever coached, and he definitely has a chance to play at the next level,” Poock said. “He will tell us if he can keep going in a game, and today he wanted to finish it. The big thing about it is that it saves our bullpen.”

Mueller stifled a potent Central Missouri offense, limiting the Mules to just five hits. He struck out six and walked three as he propelled the unranked Warriors (40-17) to the upset win. Ninety of his 140 pitches went for strikes.

Mueller came into the game with 3.27 ERA and 72 strikeouts on the season. Not only did he get the job done on the hill, but he also helped pace the offense. He tallied one hit, a single to lead off the first inning, drove in a run and scored a run.

Winona State took control early, jumping in front 3-0 after two innings of play. Seth Mcmullen knocked in a run in the second with a single to make the score 2-0 and Mueller had a sacrifice fly that pushed the Warriors in front 3-0.

Cody Strang paced the offense with two hits.

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“We knew we had to scratch out some runs early,” Poock said. “I felt like by doing that we were able to put the pressure on them. They seemed to get rattled by it.

Central Missouri scored two runs in the ninth to make things interesting but was unable to complete the comeback. Matt Lagree finished with two hits and belted a two-run home run with two outs in the ninth that cut the Winona State lead to one.

The Mules (49-9) had their 19-game win streak stopped in the setback.

Although it is only one game, it was a big one for the Warriors.

“It’s big to stay in the winner’s bracket,” Poock said. “It’s a big win for our program and a reward for all of the hard work our guys have put into the season.”