Bears Open Home Slate, Three-Game Series Against Northwestern Friday
Tyler Burgess
Tyler Burgess

March 7, 2013

Missouri State Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Missouri State Bears (7-3) vs. Northwestern Wildcats (4-2)
Friday, March 8 (3 p.m.)
Saturday, March 9 (2 p.m.)
Sunday, March 10 (1 p.m.)
Location: Springfield, Mo.
Site: Hammons Field (8,000)
Series History: Missouri State leads 1-0
Radio: None
Live Audio and Video: None
Live Stats:
Twitter: MSUBearBaseball
Tickets: (417) 836-7678 or (417) 836-3302
Promotions: Dollar Day (Friday) for MSU students

Leading Off
After completing a 10-game road swing to begin the season, the Missouri State Bears return to the friendly confines of Hammons Field for the first time in 2013 this weekend when they welcome the Northwestern Wildcats to Springfield for a three-game series. The Bears and Wildcats will square off at 3 p.m. Friday (March 8) and again Saturday (March 9) and Sunday (March 10) at 2 p.m. and 1 p.m., respectively.

The Bears are coming off a 5-4 loss in 10 innings at No. 27 Oklahoma State on Tuesday, but their 7-3 start to the season matches their record through 10 games to begin the 2012 campaign, which culminated in a 40-22 season and the program's eighth NCAA Regional appearance.

Northwestern (4-2) split games with Miami (Ohio) and Michigan State on opening weekend, then won three of four contests in week two. Friday's game will be the Wildcats' first since Feb. 24, as weather forced the cancellation of their scheduled three-game series against Missouri in Columbia last weekend.

Prime 9
♦The Bears are off to their third-straight 7-3 start, marking the 27th time in 50 years the program has won at least seven of its first 10 games in a season
♦MSU is 5-4 in home openers at Hammons Field and 147-82 (.634) overall in its nine seasons at the facility
♦Tuesday's loss at No. 27 Oklahoma State marked just the fourth time since the beginning of the 2011 season the Bears failed to win a game they have led after seven innings of play
♦Missouri State claimed the only previous meeting in its series with Northwestern, an 8-0 decision on Feb. 24, 2001, in Lake Charles, La.; the Bears are 49-31 all-time vs. the Big Ten Conference
♦MSU has won eight of its last nine weekend series or tournament openers dating back to April 2012
♦OF Tate Matheny has hit .433 over his current eight-game hit streak that includes five multi-hit games
♦RHP Jon Harris has tossed 12.0 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run to start his MSU career
♦With 1,039 wins as Bears' head coach, Keith Guttin enters the weekend 14th on the NCAA's Division I active coaching victories list; he needs four more wins to move up to 41st on the NCAA's all-time Division I victories list
♦RHP Nick Petree needs three more strikeouts to move into MSU's top 10 for career K's

Series History
The Bears and Wildcats have met on one previous occasion, an 8-0 Missouri State victory in 2001 on a neutral field in Lake Charles, La. John Rheinecker struck out eight in a seven-hit shutout, while Greg Mathis powered the Bears' 12-hit attack with a 2-for-4, two-RBI day at the plate.

MSU brings a cumulative 49-31 (.613) all-time mark against Big Ten programs into the series.

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 Wildcats
Northwestern enters the series with a 4-2 season mark, but hasn't taken the field in two weeks after seeing its three-game set with Missouri lost to winter elements last weekend. Head coach Paul Stevens's squad returns 20 letterwinners from last year's 18-36 club that finished last in the Big Ten. Leading the charge for NU is senior two-way standout Zach Morton, who enters the series with a .304 batting average and team-high seven RBIs, as well as a 2-0 record as a starting pitcher. Senior first baseman Jack Havey has also gotten off to a strong start in 2013, logging a club-best .381 batting mark through NU's first six games. Additionally, sophomore outfielders Walker Moses (.346 BA) and Luke Dauch (.333 BA) have been key cogs in the Wildcat attack, which has registered a .292 team batting average to date.

On the mound, Morton has posted a 1.29 earned run average over 14.0 innings this season, while fellow senior right-hander Luke Farrell (1-0) has fanned 12 batters in six innings and has yet to surrender an earned run. The third member of the Wildcats weekend rotation, sophomore right-hander Brandon Magallones, brings a 1-1 mark and a 4.63 ERA over 11.2 innings of work into the series. As a club, Northwestern has posted a respectable 3.91 team ERA, while holding the opposition to a minuscule .203 batting average.

Bears and The Big Ten
This weekend's series represents the Bears' lone meeting with a Big Ten foe in 2013, and just their second since 2008, when they swept Iowa in a three-game series. MSU dropped a 4-2 decision to Purdue last March in their first contest against a Big Ten opponent in four years. Prior to the 2009 season, the Bears had squared off against at least one Big Ten squad in eight consecutive seasons dating back to 2001. MSU has compiled a 49-31 record against the current membership of the league, including a 16-10 mark over the last 10 seasons.

Hello, Hammons!
After 10 games in three weeks away from home, the Bears will open their 10th season at Hammons Field this weekend. MSU will also be looking for its third-straight win in a home opener and its sixth opening-day victory at Hammons. Last year, the Bears clipped Oklahoma State, 5-2, in their home opener, after taking a 9-8 decision from North Dakota in their first home game of 2011.

Missouri State has been hard to beat at home throughout its occupancy at Hammons Field, especially over the last two seasons. The Bears have gone a combined 37-14 (.725) at home in 2011-12, registering an 18-5 mark two years ago, before wrapping the 2012 season with a 19-9 mark. The Bears' record in their first home series has been equally as impressive, as MSU has gone a combined 12-3 over the last five seasons in their initial home set.

Overall, the Bears have compiled a 147-82 (.634) home record in nine years at Hammons Field.

Freshmen Keep Streaking
A pair of Missouri State freshmen has posted noteworthy streaks to begin their collegiate careers, as outfielder Tate Matheny and pitcher Jon Harris have adjusted quickly to life at the Division I level. Matheny will bring an eight-game hit streak -- including five multi-hit games -- and a team-high .351 batting average into the weekend. The St. Louis native has started all 10 games in centerfield for the Bears and is 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 a 5-4 win over Eastern Illinois (Feb. 24). Since starting his career 0-for-7 at the plate, Matheny has hits in 13 of his last 30 at-bats (.433) over the course of his streak and has reached base safely in each of the last nine contests.

Matheny joins several current Bears on a list of notable freshman hit streaks in recent years, including Eric Cheray (2012) and Luke Voit (2010), who each posted eight-game streaks as rookies.

With Matheny leaving his mark on the MSU offense, Harris has enjoyed immediate success on the mound for the Bears. The right-hander has earned victories in each of his first two starts as a Bear, including combining on MSU's first shutout of the season with last Sunday's 5-0 win over Northwestern State. The Florissant, Mo., product struck out eight and allowed just five hits over six innings to run his streak of consecutive innings without giving up an earned run to 12. He allowed one unearned run on just two hits over six innings in his MSU debut on Feb. 22, an 8-1 victory over Alcorn State. Harris is the second MSU freshman in as many years to start his career with a string of at least 12 innings without allowing an earned run. Last year, Tyler Burgess worked 14.0 straight scoreless innings over nine outings to begin his freshman campaign for the Bears.

Missouri State has been dominant in series openers over the last 11 months, registering a Friday (or series-opening) victory in eight of its last nine regular-season series or weekend tournaments since a 14-4 win over Illinois State on April 14, 2012. The Bears have gone on to claim eight of the nine series, posting a 19-7 overall mark in weekend series or tournaments over the same span.



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