Feb. 28, 2013
Missouri State Game Notes
Missouri State Bears (5-1) vs. Northwestern State Demons (5-4)
Dates: Friday, March 1 (1 p.m.)
Saturday, March 2 (7 p.m.)
Sunday, March 3 (9:30 a.m.)
Location: Conway, Ark.
Site: Bear Stadium (1,000)
Series History: MSU leads 5-2 (won four straight)
Live Audio and Video: None
Live Stats: MissouriStateBears.com
Despite a wave of winter weather forcing a shift in scenery, the Missouri State Bears will attempt to build on their best start to a season in five years this weekend when they meet the Northwestern State Demons for a three-game series at the University of Central Arkansas' Bear Stadium in Conway, Ark. The Bears and Demons will play a 1 p.m. contest Friday (March 1), followed by a 7 p.m. .tilt Saturday (March 2) and a 9:30 a.m. game Sunday (March 3).
Missouri State, which swept its three-game slate at last weekend's Southern Miss Invitational, saw its Tuesday road contest with Kansas wiped out by inclement weather in Lawrence. With additional winter weather in the forecast for southwest Missouri over the weekend, the Bears moved their scheduled home-opening series with Northwestern State to UCA's facility. After a Tuesday (March 5) road trip to Stillwater, Okla., to take on Oklahoma State, the Bears will now initiate its home schedule next Friday (March 8), when they open a three-game set with Northwestern at Hammons Field.
♦The Bears' 5-1 start is their best since 2008; additionally, MSU's 5-1 win at No. 28 Southern Miss marks its second straight road win vs. a ranked opponent (Miami - June 2, 2012)
♦Missouri State is 3-1 in neutral-site contests, 3-0 in one-run games and 4-0 when out-hitting the opposition in 2013
♦The Bears have won four straight in their series with Northwestern State and are 5-2 all-time vs. the Demons
♦MSU hit .305 as a team in its sweep of NSU last March in Natchitoches, out-scoring the Demons by a 20-6 margin
♦3B Eric Cheray ended an 0-for-9 start at the plate by hitting .600 (6-for-10) at last weekend's Southern Miss Invitational, establishing a career high with three hits in a 5-4 win over Eastern Illinois on Sunday
♦With 1,037 wins as Bears' head coach, Keith Guttin enters Friday's action 14th on the NCAA's Division I active coaching victories list; he needs six more wins to move up to 41st on the NCAA's all-time Division I victories list
♦Seven Bears have started all six contests in 2013, but Guttin has employed six different lineups to date
♦RHP Nick Petree moved into the Bears' career top 10 for pitching victories with his 20th MSU win last Saturday
♦OF Tate Matheny has a four-game hit streak, including three multi-hit games in the Bears' last four outings, and DH Koby Peebles has at least one hit and one RBI in four consecutive contests
The Bears hold a 5-2 edge in the series with Northwestern State following last year's three-game sweep of the Demons in Natchitoches. MSU and NSU split their first four meetings, but the Bears recorded outscored the Demons 20-6 and recorded double-digit hit totals in each of the clubs' three games in 2013 to complete the sweep at Brown-Stroud Field.
MSU enters the weekend with an overall record of 43-40 (.518) against the current membership of the Southland Conference, including a 9-1 cumulative mark against the circuit since the beginning of the 2012 campaign.
About the Bears
Coming off a 40-22 season and their first NCAA Regional appearance since 2003, Missouri State will welcome back 17 letterwinners, including seven members of its 2012 pitching staff that posted the lowest team earned run average (2.57) in all of Division I baseball last spring. Leading the way once again will be junior hurler Nick Petree, who was named Louisville Slugger National Player of the Year by Collegiate Baseball last year after going 10-4 with a Division I-best 1.01 ERA and 114 strikeouts in 115.1 innings pitched. The right-hander will be backed by a host of veteran returners, including senior weekend starter Cody Schumacher, who went 8-1 with a 3.71 ERA in a school-record 17 starts in his first season with the Bears, senior right-hander Grant Gordon and sophomore lefty Tyler Burgess. Burgess went 5-2 with a 2.08 ERA and 11 saves to lead the Bears' relief corps, notching a victory or a save in each of his first seven appearances without allowing an earned run to earn Freshman All-America and First-Team All-MVC honors, as well as NCBWA National Stopper of the Year consideration. The Webb City, Mo., product served as the linchpin of the Bears' bullpen throughout his freshman season, setting unprecedented standards for MSU rookie pitchers in the process while ranking second in the Valley and 30th nationally in saves.
In the field, the Bears return five regulars from last year's club, including senior outfielder Keenen Maddox, who led MSU with eight homers en route to earning team MVP honors in 2012. Additionally, senior catcher Luke Voit should once again backstop the Bears' infield, following a strong junior campaign in which he drove in a team-high 46 runs. Junior Trey Massenberg returns to patrol the Bears' outfield after a breakthrough sophomore year in which he established career-best numbers in nearly every offensive category. Two versatile sophomores in Dylan Becker and Eric Cheray also return after seeing significant time in the Bears' lineup as rookies last spring. MSU also regains the services of three-year starter Travis McComack at shortstop, after the senior missed the 2012 season as a redshirt.
About the Demons
Northwestern State enters the weekend 5-4 on the year after dropping a pair of midweek games at nationally-ranked Texas A&M. Under first-year head coach Lane Burroughs, the Demons' roster has a different look from the last time the two clubs met, with just 10 letterwinners returning from a 19-32 squad in 2012. NSU was picked to finish ninth in the Southland Conference, and two returners were tabbed for the league's preseason all-conference teams. Will Watson led the club with a .335 batting average and 23 stolen bases in 2012. The senior outfielder has picked up right where he left off, bringing a team-best .353 average and a .500 on-base percentage into the weekend. Senior catcher Nick Purdy, a second-team preseason All-Southland pick, shares the team lead with a .353 batting mark, 12 hits and six runs scored. Additionally, senior outfielder Matt Baca (.259 BA) and junior transfer Toby Cornejo (.280 BA, 5 RBI, 2 SB) have been key cogs in an NSU attack that has produced a .245 team batting average and scored an average of nearly six runs per game thus far in 2013.
On the mound, the Demons have gotten strong contributions from newcomers Robert Baker and Joey Parrack in the rotation and Steven Spann in the bullpen. Baker is 1-0 with a 1.80 earned run average over his first two starts for NSU, while Parrack is 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA and 11 strikeouts in just 7.0 innings of work. Spann, meanwhile, is 1-0 with a 2.79 ERA over four appearances for a staff that has posted a 4.13 team ERA to date.
Matheny Makes His Mark
Freshman outfielder Tate Matheny has adjusted quickly to life at the Division I level. The St. Louis native will bring a four-game hit streak -- including three multi-hit games -- and a team-high .333 batting average into the weekend. Matheny has started all six games in centerfield for the Bears and became the first MSU freshman since Kevin Medrano in 2009 to start his collegiate career with at least two hits in three of his first six games with his 2-for-3 effort in Sunday's 5-4 win over Eastern Illinois. Since starting his career 0-for-7 at the plate, Matheny has hits in seven of his last 14 at-bats over his four-game hit streak and has reached base safely in five of MSU's six contests.
Petree Cracks Career Wins List
Junior right-hander Nick Petree, notched his 20th win as a Bear with MSU's 5-1 victory at Southern Miss (Feb. 23). Petree moved into a tie for eighth place on the Bears' career victories list, matching the MSU win totals of Steve Anderson (1978-81), Darren Garrison (1986-89), Jarrod Mays (1994-96) and Wade Palmer (1973-76). The Clinton, Mo., product would move into a tie for fifth on the list with his next victory, and needs just three more wins to climb to third on the chart. Brad Ziegler (2000-03) heads the list with 32 victories.
Petree also moved up to eighth place on MSU's career win percentage list (.769) with the win at Southern Miss. He needs to record eight more strikeouts (207) and one more inning (223.1) to move into the school's all-time top 10 in those two categories.
The Peebles Choice
Bears DH Koby Peebles has been arguably MSU's most consistent offensive performer over the first two weeks of the season. The switch-hitting senior has at least one hit and one RBI in four consecutive games (Feb. 17-24), in addition to driving in the game-winning run in three of the Bears' five victories thus far. With a team-high six runs batted in, Peebles has already surpassed his 2012 season total for RBIs (4), and needs just two more hits to match his hit (8) total from a year ago.
Thanks to uncooperative weather, the Bears will unexpectedly continue their early road swing this weekend in Arkansas. But life on the road has been good to the Maroon and White in recent years. The Bears' 2-0 road start marks the second time in three seasons they have won at least their first two true road games. Additionally, the Bears' 5-1 win at No. 28 Southern Miss (Feb. 23) marked their second consecutive victory over a ranked (NCBWA) opponent, including their win over Miami (No. 22) in last year's NCAA Regional. The victory was MSU's first regular-season win against a ranked opponent since March 15, 2009, when it upended No. 23 Oregon State in Portland. MSU started 3-0 on the road in 2011, then began last season with six straight road wins after an opening-day setback at Texas Tech.