March 11, 2013
Missouri State Game Notes
Missouri State Bears (10-3) at Arkansas State Red Wolves (10-5)
Dates/Times: Tuesday, March 12 (6:30 p.m.)
Wednesday, March 13 (3 p.m.)
Location: Jonesboro, Ark.
Site: Tomlinson Stadium/Kell Field (1,200)
Series History: Missouri State leads 37-21
Live Audio and Video: AStateRedWolves.com
After a perfect 3-0 weekend to open the home portion of their schedule, the Missouri State Bears hit the road once again for a two-game midweek series against the Arkansas State Red Wolves in Jonesboro, Ark. The two teams will meet for a 6:30 p.m. contest Tuesday (March 12) then conclude the set the following afternoon at 3 p.m. at Kell Field.
The Bears completed a three-game sweep of Northwestern Sunday with their second walk-off victory of the weekend. MSU's 10-3 start matches their record through 13 games last year, when they ultimately went 40-22 and advanced to their eighth NCAA Regional.
Arkansas State is off to a 10-5 start that includes a three-game sweep of MVC foe Bradley. Wednesday's contest will conclude a six-game home stand for the Red Wolves, who will hit the road for nine of their final 12 games in the month of March.
♦The Bears' 10-3 mark matches nine other MSU teams for the third-best start to a season in the Division I era; the 1988 and 1995 Bears began their seasons with 11-2 records to tie for the best start through 13 games
♦MSU is 37-21 all-time vs. Arkansas State, including an 18-12 mark against the Red Wolves in Jonesboro
♦The Bears are 9-0 when out-hitting the opposition and 8-1 when scoring first in 2013
♦Missouri State has out-scored the opposition by a combined 18-2 margin over the first two innings this season
♦MSU has won nine of its last 10 regular-season weekend series or tournaments, but has dropped four consecutive mid-week contests dating back to April 2012
♦1B Conor Smith recorded hits in 6-of-8 at-bats over the weekend to help the Bears sweep Northwestern
♦C Luke Voit was named to the Johnny Bench Award watch list for the second straight year Monday; Voit batted .750 (6-for-8) with four runs scored in two games vs. Arkansas State last year
♦With 1,042 wins as Bears' head coach, Keith Guttin enters the weekend 14th on the NCAA's Division I active coaching victories list; he needs one more win to move up to 41st on the NCAA's all-time Division I victories list
♦OF Keenen Maddox is a career .474 hitter with two homers and six RBIs in five career games vs. ASU
The Bears and Red Wolves have met on 58 previous occasions in a series dating back to 1964, Missouri State's first year of varsity baseball. This season marks the 15th consecutive year the two teams will have met. The Bears have won eight of 12 games in Jonesboro over the same span. Overall, MSU has claimed 37 wins in the series, including two victories at Hammons Field last year. Keenen Maddox homered twice to lead the Bears to a 5-2 win (April 3) in the opener, before MSU erupted for 12 runs on 16 hits the following afternoon in a 12-5 victory to complete the two-game sweep.
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 Red Wolves
Arkansas State returns 25 letterwinners from last year's 34-23 team that finished second in the Sun Belt Conference. Head coach Tommy Raffo's club has won 10 of its first 15 games in 2013, pace by a pitching staff that has posted a 3.40 team ERA. The Red Wolves have received contributions across the board from LHP Chandler Hawkins (2-0, 0.57 ERA), RHP Seth McWilliams (2-3, 3.31 ERA), RHP Daniel Wright (2-1, 3.20 ERA) and RHP Bradley Wallace (2-0, 3.24). Each has posted a pair of wins while combining for 80 strikeouts over 74.0 innings. Additionally, RHP John Koch (1-1, 2.91 ERA) has fanned a team-high 26 hitters in just 21.2 innings.
At the plate the Red Wolves are led by senior 2B Alex Potts, who brings a team-high .381 batting mark into the series. Senior 1B Logan Uxa is also off to a hot start, with a club bests of 22 hits and 13 runs scored to go along with a .355 average and 10 runs batted-in. Finally, senior OF Ryan Emery (.277 BA, 13 RBIs) leads the team in RBIs and walks (18), while senior 3B Claude Johnson has hit .398 with a home run and seven RBIs over 14 games.
ASU is hitting .274 as a team and has out-scored the opposition by a 92-56 margin to date. The Red Wolves have been solid in the field, logging a sparkling .986 team fielding percentage with just eight team errors in 15 games.
A Flair for the Dramatic
Just 13 games into the 2013 season, the Bears have already established a tendency to take their time in deciding the outcomes of contests. MSU has already taken three games into extra frames this season after playing just four extra-inning games all of last year. The Bears set the tone in their season opener, needing 11 innings to pull out a 3-2 win at Texas State. They have also played 10-inning games against Oklahoma State (March 5) and Northwestern (March 8), posting wins in two of the three games.
Additionally, the Bears have recorded walk-off wins in three games (Feb. 24 vs. Eastern Illinois and March 8 and 10 vs. Northwestern) and have claimed victories with scoring rallies in their last at-bat in a total of four contests (Feb. 15 at Texas State) to date. MSU also lost in walk-off fashion March 5 at No. 27 Oklahoma State, dropping a 5-4 decision on a walk-off, bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the 10th inning.
In Rare Company
Head coach Keith Guttin moved into a tie for 42nd on the NCAA Division I all-time coaching victories list with the Bears' two wins on opening weekend. He moved past Temple's James Wilson with MSU's win over Alcorn (Feb. 22) for his 1,035th career victory and now needs one more victory to catch Mark Johnson (Texas A&M, Sam Houston State) for the 41st spot on the list. Guttin, who enters the week with a career record of 1,042-655 (.614), also ranks 14th on the NCAA's Division I active coaching wins list.
Guttin became the 46th Division I baseball coach and the third Valley mentor to reach the 1,000 career-win mark with MSU's 3-2 victory at Northwestern State on March 3, 2012. He is the first coach at Missouri State in any sport to reach the milestone and the 20th Division I baseball coach to accomplish the feat while guiding just one school.
Voit Named to Bench Award Watch List
For the second straight year Missouri State senior Luke Voit has been named to the watch list for the Johnny Bench Award presented by BaseballSavings.com, the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission announced March 11. Voit is one of 48 Division I catchers under consideration for the award, which will be presented June 27, in Wichita.
The lone Missouri Valley Conference catcher named to this year's watch list, Voit is currently second on the Bears with a .345 batting average and nine runs batted-in. A preseason all-conference pick in 2013, Voit leads MSU with two stolen bases and has a .992 fielding percentage while starting 12 of the team's 13 games behind the plate. Last year, the Wildwood, Mo., product batted .298 with six home runs, a team-high 46 RBIs and a career-best nine steals to earn his second-straight All-MVC selection.
Additional nominations for the award, which honors the top Division I player who serves as a team's starting catcher in at least 75% of its games, will be considered until May 6, with semifinalists announced on May 16, and finalists revealed on June 4.
Off and Running
Missouri State's 10-3 start can be attributed to the collective performance of a starting rotation that has posted a minuscule 1.59 earned run average through the first 13 games of the season. Bears' starters are 6-1 and have combined to strike out 76 hitters, while allowing just 13 earned runs over 73.2 innings.
The MSU offense has also contributed to the strong start by outscoring the opposition by a combined 18-2 margin over the first two innings of games this season.
A Fine How-Do-You-Do
A pair of Missouri State freshmen saw notable streaks come to an end over the weekend, but not before making favorable first impressions in their debuts in front of the home crowd. Outfielder Tate Matheny drove in MSU's final five runs in Saturday's 7-5 victory over Northwestern, extending his hit streak to 10 games in the process. In the same game, right-hander Jon Harris struck out 10 Wildcats over 6.0 innings to improve to 3-0 on the season.
Before going 0-for-5 in Sunday's series finale, Matheny had posted a .425 (17-for-40) batting mark with a home run, four doubles and nine RBIs over his 10-game streak. The St. Louis native is hitting .333 for the season with a team-high 10 runs batted-in.
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 three starts as a Bear, including combining on MSU's first shutout of the season with a 5-0 win over Northwestern State (March 3). The Florissant, Mo., product struck out eight and allowed just five hits over six innings. In his most recent start, Harris held Northwestern scoreless for five innings to run his streak of consecutive innings without giving up an earned run to 17.0 before surrendering a pair of earned runs in his sixth and final frame of the 7-5 victory. 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 14 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.