Bears Look to Build on Hot Start Tuesday at Oral Roberts
Eric Cheray
Eric Cheray

Feb. 24, 2014

Missouri State Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Missouri State Bears (5-2) at Oral Roberts Golden Eagles (1-5)
Tuesday, Feb. 25
First Pitch: 3 p.m.
Location: Tulsa, Okla.
Site: J.L. Johnson Stadium (2,418)
Series History: ORU leads 28-19
Radio: KBFL 1060 AM (Rob Evans)
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Twitter: @MSUBearBaseball

Leading Off
The Missouri State Bears (5-2) conclude their eight-game road swing to start the 2014 season Tuesday afternoon when they travel to Tulsa, Okla. to take on the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles (1-5) in a 3 p.m. contest at J.L. Johnson Stadium.

Missouri State is coming off a solid performance at the Lobo Invite in Albuquerque last weekend, as the Bears claimed wins in three of their four outings against Northern Illinois and New Mexico. ORU dropped three games at Texas Tech over the weekend following a pair of losses in a three-game series with SEMO to begin the season.

Prime 9
♦ Missouri State has hit .299 and slugged .486 as a team with 33 extra-base hits and has scored at least three runs in a single inning eight times over its first seven games of the season
♦ The Bears have recorded at least 13 hits in four of their seven games after reaching the same mark just eight times over the course of their 54-game 2013 schedule
♦ In last Saturday's 11-0 win over Northern Illinois, MSU legged out eight doubles as a club--it's best single-game total since April 11, 2004
♦ ORU leads the overall series with the Bears 28-19, but MSU has claimed 11 of the last 14 meetings with ORU, including four of the last five contests played in Tulsa
♦ Sophomore RHP Jon Harris earned Missouri Valley Conference Pitcher of the Week recognition Monday after tossing his first complete-game shutout as a Bear with Saturday's win over Northern Illinois
♦ Senior first baseman Conor Smith leads the Bears with a .367 batting mark and has reached base safely in each of his last 17 games dating back to last May
Cody Schumacher climbed to No. 3 on the Bears' all-time win percentage chart for pitchers with his 11th career victory last Friday vs. NIU; the senior right-hander retired the first 15 hitters of the game and worked 6.0 hitless innings overall, allowing just two baserunners and striking out five Huskies; LHP Matt Hall also came up big for MSU, beating New Mexico on its home turf for the second consecutive season with 7.0 strong innings Saturday
♦ Missouri State put together a strong weekend in Albuquerque despite being without the services of two key cogs in its everyday lineup; Tate Matheny and Patrick Drake, who had combined to make every start in center and right field, respectively, this season, collided in right-center field in Friday's game vs. NIU and missed the Bears' three remaining games at the Lobo Invite
Alex Jefferson filled in nicely for Matheny in center field Saturday, going 2-for-5 with four walks, an RBI and four runs scored to help the Bears sweep a twin bill against NIU and host New Mexico

Series History
In a series that dates back to 1979, ORU brings a 28-19 all-time advantage versus the Bears into Tuesday's game. MSU has gotten the better of the Golden Eagles over the last six seasons, however, winning 11 of the two clubs' 14 meetings. The Bears split a pair of games with the Golden Eagles two years ago at J.L. Johnson Stadium and have taken four of the last five road meetings dating back to the 2010 season. MSU is just 8-19 all-time against ORU in Tulsa, however. Last year, the Golden Eagles took both meetings in Springfield, edging the Bears by scores of 4-1 and 5-3 to stop a seven-game road losing streak in the series.

Land of Enchantment
With a 3-1 weekend at the Lobo Invite in Albuquerque, the Bears continued a remarkable history of success in New Mexico over the past four and a half decades. Missouri State has racked up a 39-18-1 overall mark in 58 games played in Albuquerque dating back to its first visit to `The Duke City' in 1979, including a 31-7-1 record against all opponents other than the host Lobos for an eye-popping .808 win percentage. 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 (Wichita), including eight of the primary Valley cities since MSU joined the league in 1991.Additionally, No other road city has seen more MSU victories than Albuquerque.

Harris Tabbed MVC Pitcher of the Week
Sophomore hurler Jon Harris earned Missouri Valley Conference Pitcher of the Week Monday after turning in the first complete-game shutout of his Missouri State career Saturday at the Lobo Invite. Harris tossed a five-hit shutout to lift the Bears to an 11-0 victory over Northern Illinois Saturday as part of a 3-1 weekend for MSU in Albuquerque. He needed just 94 pitches to finish the first nine-inning shutout of his MSU career, fanning four and walking just one NIU batter in a contest that took only two hours and seven minutes to complete. The Florissant, Mo., native permitted just five singles and only three baserunners after the second inning. Harris wrapped up his ninth career victory by retiring the last eight NIU batters he faced in the first complete-game shutout for a Bears pitcher since Nick Petree's two-hit blanking of Indiana State on March 29, 2013.

The weekly Valley honor is the first for Harris, who earned Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America recognition in 2013, and the first for a Missouri State pitcher since Petree claimed the same honor last. Through two starts this season, the right-hander is 1-0 with a 0.66 earned run average after yielding just one run through 13.2 innings.

Getting Offensive
After hitting just 13 home runs and slugging .346 as a team all of last season, the Bears have broken from the gates with an offensive surge over the first two weekends of the 2014 campaign, hitting five homers and totaling 33 extra-base hits for a .486 team slugging percentage. MSU pounded out 33 hits in its two wins over Northern Illinois to open play at the Lobo Invite (Feb. 21-22). The Bears logged 19 safeties in Friday's win, then battered the Huskies for 14 hits in Saturday's 11-0 pasting. The Bears recorded six extra-base hits Friday, and 10 on Saturday to finish with 28 total bases--their best single-game total since registering 33 bases in an 11-inning game against Bradley at the 2012 MVC Tournament. MSU's eight doubles Saturday vs. NIU also represented their best single-game total in nearly a decade, with their last eight-double outburst coming April 11, 2004 vs. UNI.

So far in 2014, the Bears have recorded at least six extra-base hits on four different occasions, just one year removed from an offense that accomplished the feat just once over the course of the entire 54-game 2013 season. MSU has also reached the 13-hit mark four times in seven outings on the heels of a 2013 offense that hit the same mark only eight times all year.

Hooray for Cheray
Junior second baseman Eric Cheray turned in a memorable all-around performance in Missouri State's 3-1 showing at the Lobo Invite in Albuquerque this past weekend, hitting .529 (9-for-17) and slugging 1.235 with a pair of home runs and 9 RBIs. In all, six of Cheray's nine hits went for extra bases, including an inside-the-park home run in Saturday's 11-0 win over Northern Illinois and a grand slam that sealed a 6-1 win over host New Mexico later that evening.

Cheray started his weekend by matching a career high with four hits to go along with three RBIs in a 9-8 victory over NIU Friday. The Topeka, Kan., product doubled and tripled twice to help the Bears rack up 28 total bases. In game one Saturday, he scored three runs with a double and his first home run of the season, then delivered a another two-hit game and a career-best 4 RBIs in the nightcap against the Lobos with his fifth-inning grand slam that turned a 2-1 lead into a five-run advantage. In Sunday's tournament finale, Cheray added another hit in four trips to the plate against UNM, and finished the week with a perfect fielding percentage in 22 defensive chances, including three double plays.



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