March 6, 2014
Missouri State Game Notes
Missouri State Bears (7-3) at UTA Hilton Invitational
Dates/Times: Friday, March 7 (11 a.m.) at Abilene Christian
Saturday, March 8 (3 p.m.) at UT Arlington
Sunday, March 9 (11 a.m.) vs. Utah
Location: Arlington, Texas
Site: Clay Gould Ballpark (1,600)
Series Histories: MSU leads ACU 1-0
MSU and UTA tied at 8-8
Utah leads MSU 2-0
Radio: KBFL 1060 AM (Rob Evans)
Live Audio: RadioSpringfield.com
Live Video: Bears All-Access
For the second consecutive weekend, the Missouri State Bears (7-3) head south to warmer weather in the Lone Star State, as they take part in the UTA Hilton Invitational at Clay Gould Ballpark in Arlington. The Bears will battle the Abilene Christian Wildcats at 11 a.m. Friday (March 7), before taking on the UT Arlington Mavericks at 3 p.m. Saturday, and the Utah Utes Sunday at 11 a.m.
Missouri State split its two games at the Bourland-Ardoin Classic in Abilene last weekend, defeating the same ACU squad it will face Friday (12-0) before dropping an 8-3 decision to Kansas State the following evening. The Bears saw their final game of the weekend vs. Grand Canyon called off due to weather, as well as both of their midweek home games vs. Arkansas State.
♦ Missouri State is off to a 7-3 start for the fourth consecutive season, marking the fifth time in the last seven years the Bears have won at least seven of their first 10 games
♦ MSU is 15-10 in eight previous trips to the UTA Invitational, including a 6-1 cumulative mark in their last two appearances in the tournament; the Bears are 18-14 all-time in Arlington and 42-46 in games played on Texas soil
♦ The Bears lead all of Division I baseball in doubles per game (3.1), while ranking ninth in triples (6) and 12th in slugging percentage (.455); the Bears also pace the MVC in team fielding (.972)
♦ MSU has recorded at least 12 hits in five of its 10 games after reaching the same mark just 10 times over the course of its 54-game 2013 schedule
♦ Cody Schumacher sits in third on the Bears' all-time win percentage (.857) list and ninth in career ERA (3.01)
♦ Schumacher has worked 16.1 consecutive scoreless innings dating back to opening day, while Jon Harris has posted 9.0 consecutive scoreless frames thanks to his complete-game shutout of Northern Illinois (Feb. 22)
♦ Eric Cheray leads the MVC and ranks 11th nationally in triples (2), while also ranking among the Valley's top 10 in slugging (2nd), total bases (2nd), hits (5th), home runs (5th), RBIs (6th), sac flies (6th) and batting (8th)
♦ MSU's bullpen has not allowed an earned run in its last 12.1 innings of work spanning four games
♦ Joey Hawkins is expected to make his 50th consecutive start on the Bears' infield Friday
The Bears enter the weekend with an 8-8 all-time mark against host UT Arlington, including an 8-7 record against the Mavericks on their home field. MSU has won three straight in the series, defeating UTA 9-4 two years ago in their last trip to Arlington. Additionally, the Bears hold a commanding edge against the current membership of the Sun Belt Conference, having compiled a 59-37 all-time record.
MSU's only previous meeting with Abilene Christian came last Friday in Abilene. The Bears are 4-1 against the Southland Conference this season, after taking two of three games against UCA to start the year and pulling out a 3-2 win at Oral Roberts (Feb. 25). MSU is 41-43 all-time against the league.
Utah has claimed its only two previous meetings with the Bears, both of which came in February 2006 at the Domino's Aggie Classic in College Station, Texas. MSU is just 3-9 all-time against the Pac-12 Conference, with their last victory vs. a league member coming at the 1996 NCAA Central I Regional in Austin, Texas.
What a Relief
It was a banner week for the Bears' bullpen, as six MSU relievers combined to hold the opposition to a .195 batting mark and a pair of unearned runs in 12.0 innings of work over three games, Feb. 25-March1. Junior lefty Tyler Burgess led the way, logging 5.0 scoreless frames, including a career-long 3.1-inning stint vs. Kansas State. Additionally, freshman Bryan Young turned in 2.1 shutout innings to earn his second victory of the season in a 3-2 road win over Oral Roberts, and sophomore Sam Perez worked 2.0 scoreless innings that included a career-high three strikeouts at Abilene Christian. Overall, the Bears bullpen has posted a 3.34 ERA and limited the opposition to a .258 batting mark through 10 games.
One thing has been certain for the Bears in 2014--with Cody Schumacher on the mound, MSU's chances for victory are outstanding. In each of Schumacher's three outings this season the Bears have claimed wins, thanks in large part to a string of 16 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings logged by the senior right-hander. In fact, Schumacher has been nearly unbeatable throughout his MSU career, with the Bears recording wins in 19 of his 25 appearances, allowing the Topeka, Kan., native to climb all the way to third on the school's all-time win percentage list for pitchers. Schumacher's 12-2 career mound mark gives him an .857 win percentage, which trails only Greg Reed (.909) and Darren Garrison (.870) among all MSU hurlers with at least 10 career victories.
Love the Drake
Bears senior outfielder Patrick Drake has been one of the clubs' biggest offensive contributors through the first three weeks of the season, slugging .500 with 6 RBIs to help fuel MSU's marked turnaround in the power department from a year ago. Drake's fast start has included a career-high six doubles in his first seven games of the season, which ranks as the 11th best total in all of Division I baseball and has more than doubled his career total. In fact, the Webb City, Mo., product has already surpassed his personal season high in RBIs and needs just four more hits to match his career high in that category.
Winter Weather Woes
Missouri State has seen six games affected by weather so far in 2014, including the postponement of the Bears' home opener on three different occasions over the last week. MSU, which has lost five home dates to weather, has rescheduled one of its two games against Arkansas State for March 26. As it stands currently, the Bears will play at least their first 14 games on the road (weather permitting), which would represent their longest stretch away from home to start any season in the 51-year history of the program.
Additionally, MSU's first home game, now slated for March 14 vs. Dallas Baptist, would mark the latest calendar date for a Bears' home opener since the 1980 season, which did not start until the third week of March. That Bears' squad opened at home against North Dakota on April 3, marking the second latest start to a home slate in school history. The only later start occurred in 1965, when MSU didn't play a home game until May 1.