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Outfielder pitches for win at Winter Invitational

Four-day event features seven NCAA Division II teams at Minute Maid Park

HOUSTON -- Joseph Kubera started his game Saturday as a center fielder, but he ended it as the winning pitcher. The right-hander threw two scoreless innings for Winona State, getting critical outs in the eighth inning of the Warriors' 3-2 win over Henderson State in Game 2 of the 2014 Houston Winter Invitational at Minute Maid Park.

Winona State, which trailed by 2-0 after three innings, scored the go-ahead run with two outs in the seventh inning. Travis Evanson doubled down the third-base line off Steven Brooks (0-1), scoring Ryan Nyhagen, who had entered the game at center field when Kubera came in to pitch the seventh.

Kubera (1-0) came up big for the Warriors, who like the Reddies ended the game with eight hits. None of those came on Kubera's watch.

Kubera retired the side in the top of the seventh, but it was in the eighth that he displayed his mettle. Kubera got out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam by striking out Matt Evans swinging and getting Conner Brackhahn to pop up to second base, preserving the one-run lead.

Despite picking up the loss, Brooks pitched well. The left-hander inherited runners at first and second with no outs in the sixth and promptly retired the next three batters.

Jonathan Nelson had two hits for Winona State (1-0), while Tyler Nehring and Brett Young tallied RBIs. Joseph Gary and Lance Fields drove in runs for Henderson State (0-1), which also got two hits from Tadarius Hawkins.

Arkansas-Monticello 7, Arkansas Tech 2

HOUSTON -- The 2014 Houston Winter Invitational began Saturday with Arkansas-Monticello cruising past Arkansas Tech, 7-2, in the opener of the four-day event featuring seven NCAA Division II teams at Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros.

Corey Wood, Austin Braddock and Bronson Gillam provided the power for the Boll Weevils, who opened their season with a 10-hit, seven-walk attack. Wood homered and Braddock had three hits and two RBIs. Adding two RBIs on two hits was Gillam, who went deep twice in a game last year at this event.

Wood's homer off Wonder Boys reliever Trent Armstrong came on the first pitch of the fifth inning, giving the Boll Weevils a 4-1 lead. Wood's blast landed in the home team's bullpen in right-center, carrying past the 373-foot sign.

Arkansas-Monticello put the game away with a three-run eighth inning that included doubles from Evan Comeau, who had two hits, Ben Agredano, who scored twice, and Braddock.

Boll Weevils starter Josh Mingura (1-0) earned the win. The right-hander allowed two runs (one earned) and six hits in five innings with no walks and two strikeouts. Gavin Johnston relieved Mingura with three shutout innings, and Jeff Harvill pitched a scoreless ninth.

Arkansas Tech starter Ryan Taylor (0-1) took the loss in a 3 2/3-inning stint, allowing three runs on four hits and five walks with four strikeouts.

Sage Boehner and Mike Kattula had two hits apiece among the Wonder Boys' seven knocks. Kattula and Zac Johnson had an RBI each, with Jay Johnson and James Sharp scoring.

St. Mary's 5, Central Missouri 4

HOUSTON -- Mario Maldonado homered to open the scoring in the second inning, and he closed out the game to get the win on the mound as St. Mary's (Texas) edged Central Missouri, 5-4.

The game was the last of three played on Saturday at Minute Maid Park in the 2014 Houston Winter Invitational. It was both teams' season opener.

The right-handed-throwing Maldonado (1-0), who started the game at second base and scored the go-ahead run, got Trevor Jones to fly out to center field for the game's final out. Pinch-runner Victor Brancato was stranded at second base as the potential tying run.

St. Mary's, which blew a four-run lead after 3 1/2 innings and stranded 13, scored the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth inning. No. 9 hitter Keith Funk singled off Kyle Gehrs, scoring Maldonado from second base with one out. Gehrs (0-1) was the last of six pitchers for the Mules.

St. Mary's starter Rene Solis threw 131 pitches in his six innings. The left-hander allowed two runs on three hits with four strikeouts and one walks. Mules starter Andres Gimeno allowed four runs (three earned) in three-plus innings. Zak Anstine, who relieved Gimeno, pitched three innings of hitless ball.

Maldonado went 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI. Miles Orscheln had two of Central Missouri's six hits, scoring once. Brad Wilson and Kevin Gratza scored a run and had an RBI each for the Mules, who scored twice in the bottom of the eighth inning to tie the game at 4.

Richard Dean is a contributor to
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