Feb. 19, 2014
Missouri State Game Notes
Missouri State Bears (2-1) at Lobo Invite
Dates/Times: Friday, Feb. 21 (1 p.m.) vs. Northern Illinois Huskies (0-3)
Saturday, Feb. 22 (1 p.m.) vs. Northern Illinois Huskies
Saturday, Feb. 22 (5 p.m.) at New Mexico Lobos (2-2)
Sunday, Feb. 23 (11 a.m.) at New Mexico Lobos
Location: Albuquerque, N.M.
Site: Lobo Field (1,000)
Series Histories: New Mexico leads MSU 11-8; MSU leads Northern Illinois 3-0
Radio: KBFL 1060 AM (Rob Evans)
Live Audio: RadioSpringfield.com
Live Video: None
After a strong start to the 2014 season, the Missouri State Bears will look to keep their momentum going at the Lobo Invite at Lobo Field in Albuquerque, N.M. The Bears will face the Northern Illinois Huskies and the host New Mexico Lobos in a pair of two-game sets.
This tournament gets underway for Missouri State Friday (Feb. 21) afternoon with a 1 p.m (CST) tilt against Northern Illinois, followed by a double-header Saturday, including another 1 p.m. contest against the Huskies, followed by a 5 p.m. match-up against the Lobos. MSU wraps up its weekend with an 11 a.m. game Sunday against New Mexico.
♦ Missouri State pounded out 28 hits in its two wins at UCA, marking its top total through the first two games of a season since the Bears hammered UT Martin for 30 hits in a pair of wins to open the 1993 campaign
Â?♦ Coming off a 31-23 season in 2013, the Bears will be seeking their fourth 30+ win campaign in a row this spring under Keith Guttin, who ranks 13th among all active Division I head coaches with 1,065 career wins
♦ The Bears are 8-11 all-time against the host Lobos after splitting a doubleheader in Albuquerque last March
♦ MSU has taken all three previous meetings from NIU and is 10-2-1 all-time vs. MAC schools
♦ Missouri State has compiled a 37-16-1 all-time mark in seven previous trips to Albuquerque, giving it more wins in `The Duke City' than in any other outside of Springfield
♦ In last weekend's season-opening series win at UCA, Conor Smith hit a team-high .467 with a home run, three doubles and four RBIs while extending his streak of reaching base safely to 13 straight games
♦ Patrick Drake matched a MSU single-game record with three doubles in last Friday's season opener, marking the 18th time a Bear has achieved the milestone
♦ Joey Hawkins moved into the Bears' top 10 for sacrifice hits with the 15th and 16th of his career last weekend, while Eric Cheray (No. 2 on the list) moved to within five sac bunts of MSU's career leader, Kevin Medrano (28)
♦ Matt Fultz recorded a pair of two-hit games in his first two starts as a Bear last weekend, both MSU wins
The home-standing Lobos hold an 11-8 edge over MSU, including a 10-7 mark on their home field. The Bears have fared much better against the rest of the current makeup of the Mountain West Conference, going 4-2 against the remaining six baseball-playing league members.
Despite sharing proximal geography, Missouri State has far less history with both Northern Illinois and its conference, the Mid-American. The Bears have claimed all three previous meetings with the Huskies, outscoring NIU by a combined 27-10 margin. The two clubs have not met since March 16, 1997, when the Bears posted an 8-7 victory in Springfield. MSU brings a 10-2-1 overall record against the MAC into the season, including the only tie in the 51-year history of the Bears program, which, coincidentally, occured in Albuquerque vs. Toledo on March 22, 1982.
After hitting just 13 home runs and slugging .346 as a team all of last season, the Bears broke from the gates with an offensive surge last weekend, hitting three long balls and totaling 11 doubles for a .477 team slugging percentage against UCA. Becker got the power surge started in Friday's opener, belting a long home run in the fifth inning to put MSU on top for good, and sophomore Tyler Harris made his first hit as a Bear count in Sunday's series finale, unloading on a long two-run shot in just his sixth collegiate at-bat. Finally, senior Conor Smith blasted a solo shot in the fifth inning Sunday to give MSU a 4-2 lead. In comparison, it took the 2013 Bears 12 games to hit their first three home runs of the season and eight games to collect 11 doubles.
While the Bears opening series win featured the return of a pair of MSU hurlers from injuries, several newcomers played starring roles as well. While senior right-hander Cody Schumacher earned the win with 4.0 innings of solid relief in Friday's opener after missing the last half of 2013 with a shoulder injury, it was a pair of new arms who locked down the 6-4 MSU win in game two. Freshman Bryan Young was credited with the win after turning in an impressive 3.1 inning relief stint, and junior transfer Adam Anawalt recorded the one-pitch save by rolling a 4-6-3 double play ball. Additionally, sophomore catcher Matt Fultz posted back-to-back two-hit games in the two MSU wins, while freshman Aaron Meyer started all three games in left field and hit .400 for the weekend thanks to a three-hit effort in Saturday's victory. In all, seven different Bears made their MSU debuts over the weekend, hitting a combined .400 at the plate and going 1-0 with a save on the mound as a group.
Land of Enchantment
This year's trip to Albuquerque marks the Bears' eighth visit to the Lobos' home turf and their second in as many years. Prior to splitting a brief two-game series with UNM at Isotopes Park last March, the Bears visited Albuquerque five straight years from 1979 to 1983, and again in 1987, with substantial success. Missouri State brings a 36-17-1 overall mark in 54 previous games played in Albuquerque into the weekend, including a 29-7-1 record against all opponents other than the host Lobos.
For the sake of comparison, the Bears have played more games in Albuquerque over the years than they have in all but one other city outside of Springfield, including eight of the primary Valley cities since MSU joined the league in 1991, as well as in-state hubs Cape Girardeau (52), St. Louis (39), Rolla (31), Joplin (30), Warrensburg (26), Bolivar (26) and Columbia (24) and traditional rival homes in Fayetteville (43), Tulsa (36) and Jonesboro (31). Only Wichita (91) has hosted more Missouri State baseball games, with the Bears going 12-38 in true road games against the Shockers and 21-20 vs. the rest of the Valley in MVC Tournament games at Eck Stadium. No other road city has seen more MSU victories than Albuquerque.