Feb. 15, 2012
Missouri State Game Notes
Missouri State Bears (0-0) at Red Raider Classic
Dates: Friday, Feb. 17 vs. Tennessee Tech (Noon)
Friday, Feb. 17 at Texas Tech (4 p.m.)
Saturday, Feb. 18 vs. Tennessee Tech (Noon)
Sunday, Feb. 19 at Texas Tech (2 p.m.)
Location: Lubbock, Texas
Site: Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park (3,867)
Live Audio and Video: TexasTech.com (subscription)
Live Stats: MissouriStateBears.com
The Missouri State Bears will open their 49th season of varsity baseball this weekend at the Red Raider Classic in Lubbock, Texas. MSU will plays two games against both Tennessee Tech and Texas Tech, beginning with single contests against each club Friday, followed by single games Saturday (Tennessee Tech) and Sunday (Texas Tech).
♦ For the fourth time in 10 years, the Bears are the preseason MVC favorite
♦ Missouri State enters the season ranked No. 31 in Collegiate Baseball's preseason poll
♦ MSU will be looking to snap a three-game skid in season openers Friday; the Bears are 18-11 in openers under head coach Keith Guttin and 30-18 overall
♦ The Bears will be opening the season in Texas for the 10th time in 12 years
♦ MSU returns to Lubbock for the first time since the 1997 NCAA Central Regional, where they finished as the runner-up to Rice
♦ Guttin needs eight victories to become the 46th Division I baseball coach to reach the 1,000 career win plateau
♦ Missouri State returns four All-MVC performers from 2011, including Medrano (first team), Petree (second), Luke Voit (second) and Brock Chaffin (second)
♦ Senior second baseman Kevin Medrano was a preseason honorable mention All-America pick by CollegeBaseballInsider.com
♦ Along with Medrano, sophomore right-hander Nick Petree was tabbed for the preseason All-MVC team
Tennessee Tech Series
Friday's season opener will mark the Bears' first meeting with Tennessee Tech out of the Ohio Valley Conference. The Bears do have an extensive history against the rest of the OVC, bringing a cumulative 116-73 (.614) overall mark against the league's membership into the season.
Texas Tech Series
MSU and Texas Tech have split two previous meetings, including a 4-2 Bears win over the 1997 Big 12 champion Red Raiders in their last trip to Lubbock as part of the NCAA Central Regional. The Red Raiders claimed the only other contest in the series, taking a 7-3 decision over MSU at the Fresno State Classic in March 1993. MSU enters the season with an overall record of 69-75 (.479) against the current membership of the Big 12 Conference, including a 6-2 mark against the circuit in 2011.
About the Bears
Following a disappointing end to an otherwise memorable bounceback 2011 season, Missouri State enters the new year as the preseason choice to capture the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title for the fourth time in the last 12 seasons. The 2012 season promises to be a milestone year for the Bears, who mark their 30th year as a Division I program. It will also be the 30th campaign for head coach Keith Guttin, who enters the season just eight wins shy of the 1,000 career win mark.
The Bears' strength is in numbers -- both in quality and quantity -- with seven regular position starters and six experienced seniors returning from last year's 33-23 squad that finished fourth in the Valley. MSU will turn to a trio of seniors to lead an offensive attack that posted a league-best .292 team batting mark in 2011. Second baseman Kevin Medrano (.325, 34 RBI, 13 SB), a preseason All-America choice and 14th-round draft choice last June, has been the Bears' most-consistent hitter since his freshman year and will have the chance to leave his mark on a number of MSU career offensive charts. He could also become the first four-time first-team All-MVC honoree in Valley history this spring. Third sacker Brent Seifert paced the club with 9 HR and 43 RBIs as a junior, and first-baseman/DH Brock Chaffin was a second-team all-conference selection after batting a team-high .344 and slugging .550 in 2011. Additionally, junior Luke Voit (.286, 6 HR, 35 RBI) will be called upon to duplicate the power numbers that earned him Second-Team All-MVC honors as a sophomore.
The Bears' mound corps will be led by 2011 MVC Freshman of the Year Nick Petree, who went 9-2 with a 2.81 ERA to garner Freshman All-America honors last spring. Junior right-hander Pierce Johnson (6-5, 4.76) blossomed late in 2011 and enters the season as Baseball America's top MVC prospect in the draft classes of 2012-13. Closing things out will be junior Grant Gordon (3-6, 4.26), who notched seven saves as a freshman before moving to the rotation last year.
About the Golden Eagles
Tennessee Tech enters the 2012 season with an experienced roster that includes 16 letterwinners and eight regular starters returning from last year's 25-29 squad. Picked third in the Ohio Valley Conference's preseason poll, head coach Matt Bragga's team will rely on the bat of sophomore first baseman Zach Stephens. As a freshman, Stephens hit .310 and posted club highs of 10 home runs and 49 RBIs en route to earning Freshman All-America honors from Collegiate Baseball.
On the mound , TTU's top starter is back in the form of junior Tristan Archer. The right-hander returns after posting a 7-4 mark and striking out 67 batters in 88.2 innings of work. The Golden Eagles top arm out of the bullpen, senior Cullen Park (3-3, 4.27, 4 saves), is also back.
About the Red Raiders
Texas Tech welcomes back 19 letterwinners and five position starters from a club that went 33-25 and finished seventh in the Big 12 a year ago. Head coach Dan Spencer's squad was picked to once again finish seventh by the league's coaches in their annual preseason poll. Powering the Red Raider offense will be junior All-America candidate Barrett Barnes, a first-team All-Big 12 pick a year ago after batting .290 with 10 homers and 38 runs batted-in. A talented infield returns for TTU, as junior Jamodrick McGruder and seniors Stephen Hagen and Reid Redman will be looking to build on solid 2011 seasons. McGruder ranked third in the Big 12 in steals a year ago while hitting .293. Hagen drove in 42 runs, while Redman batted .320 and recorded 64 hits. Finally, sophomore outfielder David Paiz (.284, 2 HR, 27 RBI) will attempt to duplicate a rookie season that landed him a Lousiville Slugger Freshman All-America nod last spring.
Senior All-American John Neely will once again anchor the Red Raider bullpen after posting seven saves and a 2.97 ERA in 2011. Sophomores Trey Masek (5-4, 4.70) and Duke von Schamann (5-0, 3.92) represent the Raiders most-effective returning starters from last year.
Lifting the Lid
Missouri State is 18-11 in season openers under head coach Keith Guttin and 30-18 overall. MSU has dropped its last three openers, falling to Air Force, 7-2, in San Marcos, Texas, to christen the 2011 campaign.
Additionally, this weekend's action marks the 10th time in the last 12 years the Bears have opened a season in Texas.
For the fourth time in the last decade, Missouri State has been tabbed to capture the Missouri Valley Conference title in a preseason poll of the league's coaches. The Bears have fulfilled their preseason promise in each of the previous three instances in which they were chosen as the league favorite over the last decade, bringing home crowns in 2002, 2003 and 2009.
MSU has garnered some national attention as well, earning the No. 31 spot in Collegiate Baseball's Preseason Top 40, and garnering the pole position in Baseball America's preseason MVC forecast as well.
Individually, senior second baseman Kevin Medrano and sophomore right-hander Nick Petree were selected preseason All-MVC, while Medrano was an honorable mention All-America selection by CollegeBaseballInsider.com. Finally, junior right-hander Pierce Johnson was named the top MVC prospect in the 2012-13 draft classes.
Guttin Approaching Milestone
Missouri State head coach Keith Guttin (Missouri-St. Louis, 1978) begins his 30th season as head coach of the baseball Bears with a career record of 992-630 (.612). With eight more victories, Guttin will become either the 46th or 47th Division I baseball coach to reach the 1,000 career-win mark. Georgia Tech's Danny Hall is nipping at Guttin's heels with 987 career victories entering the 2012 season.
Guttin, who enters the season 17th among active Division I head coaches in career victories, became the first coach at Missouri State in any sport to reach the 900-win mark with the Bears' May 11, 2008, win over Middle Tennessee at Hammons Field. During his tenure, 114 Bears have signed professional contracts, including 12 Major Leaguers. Additionally, MSU has made seven Division I NCAA Tournament appearances -- six in the last 17 years. In 2003, Guttin led the Bears to the NCAA Division I College World Series for the first time in school history. Guttin has been a conference Coach of the Year 10 times with four of those coming in the Valley and six coming during the Bears' years in the Mid-Continent Conference.