HOUSTON (Javelina Athletics) - With dreams of making another leap forward as a program, the Texas A&M-Kingsville baseball team started the season on the right foot Friday afternoon 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 Kingsville's season a year 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 6 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. The transfer sent two down on strikes and walked one before giving way to Jeremy Flores in the ninth. Flores was perfect striking out the side for his 11th save of his career.
The Hoggie offense scored three runs in the top of the fourth. Joe Tallerine and Taylor Taska opened the frame with back-to-back singles. A perfect bunt by Chris Ballou followed loading 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 tallied on an error by UCM for the 3-0 lead.
Schuler lasted four innings in suffering the loss. He struck out eight Javelinas.
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 4-1/3 innings of work, Heissler allowed just those two hits with five strikeouts.
The Javelinas, who play Arkansas-Monticello at 10 a.m. tomorrow, had eight hits by seven players in the debut. Tallerine led the way with two.