Bears Close Homestand Tuesday Against No. 28 Purdue
March 12, 2012
Missouri State Game Notes
Missouri State Bears (12-4) vs. No. 28 Purdue Boilermakers (11-1)
Date: Tuesday, March 13
First Pitch: 6:30 p.m.
Location: Springfield, Mo.
Site: Hammons Field (8,000)
Radio: KBFL AM 1060 (Art Hains)
Live Audio and Video: None
Live Stats: MissouriStateBears.com
The Missouri State Bears will wrap up their five-game homestand with a prime-time matchup against the 28th-ranked Purdue Boilermakers Tuesday evening at Hammons Field. After seeing their six-game win streak come to an end with a 3-1 loss in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader with SIU Edwardsville, the Bears responded with a 10-7 victory to claim the series from the Cougars. Purdue has won 11 of its 12 games, including a three-game road sweep of Murray State over the weekend, to claim its first top 25 ranking from Baseball America in 11 years.
♦ Missouri State ranked 47th in this week's Perfect Game Top 50 Poll and received five votes in last week's USA Today Coaches' Poll
♦ MSU brings a 48-30 overall mark against the Big Ten Conference into Tuesday's contest
♦ The Bears' bullpen has combined to limit the opposition to a .162 batting average while posting 42 strikeouts in 41.1 innings so far this season
♦ MSU's 11-3 start represented its best through 14 games since the 1995 season
♦ Sophomore RHP Nick Petree fanned eight and gave up just two hits over 6.0 innings Friday vs. SIUE, combining with freshman RHP Zach Merciez on his first shutout as a Bear
♦ Junior RHP Pierce Johnson has posted back-to-back starts of 7.0+ innings pitched and 10+ strikeouts and ranks fourth nationally with 38 punchouts on the season
♦ Senior 3B Brent Seifert hit .400 (6-for-15) last week and registered the game-winning RBI in each of MSU's three victories
♦ Junior Luke Voit was one of 43 Division I catchers named to the Johnny Bench Award watch list March 7
♦ Freshmen INF/OF Dylan Becker batted .400 (4-for-10) with three runs scored last week
The Bears and Boilermakers have met only twice before, with Purdue taking both meetings in March 2006 at Hammons Field. Missouri State has experience some success against the Big Ten Conference, bringing a 48-30 (.615) overall mark against the league into Tuesday's contest.
About the Bears
Following a disappointing end to an otherwise memorable bounceback 2011 season, Missouri State entered the new year as the preseason choice to capture the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title for the fourth time in the last 12 seasons.
After a rough start to opening weekend in Lubbock, Texas, the Bears rebounded to win 11 of their next 12 games to post their best start to a season through 14 games since the 1995 campaign. Senior outfielder Spiker Helms (.413, 3-HR, 16-RBI) ranks among the MVC's top 10 performers in 12 different offensive categories, including league-best totals for runs scored (22), doubles (9) and on-base percentage (.532). He recorded a career-best 11-game hit streak from Feb. 18-March 6. Fellow senior Brock Chaffin (.339, 15-RBI) has come on strong as of late, accounting for 12 RBIs over the Bears' last 10 games, while junior catcher Luke Voit (.239, 2-HR, 16-RBI) has three game-winning RBIs and 14 for his MSU career to rank 11th on the Bears' career list. Senior second baseman Kevin Medrano (.288, 5-2B) has returned from an early three-game hiatus by recording hits in six straight trips to the plate (Feb. 26-29) to break into the Bears' top 10 for career hits. Additionally, his five doubles rank seventh in the Valley. Additionally, senior third baseman Brent Seifert (.293, 2-HR, 20-RBI) leads the team in RBIs and has reached base safely in all 16 games and a career-high 21-straight contests dating back to last season.
The Bears' regular weekend rotation has been strong through the first four weeks, combining to strike-out 75 batters through 76 innings of work. Nick Petree (3-1, 2.00), who went 9-2 with a 2.81 ERA to garner Freshman All-America honors last spring, picked up his third-straight victory last Friday against SIU Edwardsville, striking-out eight hitters over six innings of a combined two-hit shutout. Junior right-hander Pierce Johnson (1-2, 2.76) has shown stretches of dominance in each of his four outings this season. On Feb. 25, he held UTA hitless through five innings before leaving after seven innings with a no-decision. He's been even stronger over his last two starts, fanning 23 over 15.1 innings to claim a share of the MVC lead in strikeouts (38). Junior right-hander Cody Schumacher (2-0, 5.95) rebounded from a rough first start to post back-to-back victories, including a seven shutout innings at Northwestern State (March 4). Junior righty Clay Murphy (2-0, 0.71, 1 save) has permitted just two earned runs in 25.1 innings this year and defeated Oklahoma State for the second time in seven days March 6. Finally, freshman lefty Tyler Burgess (3-0, 0.00, 3 saves) has been sensational in his MSU debut, notching a victory or a save in each of his six appearances without allowing a run over 11.1 innings pitched.
About the Boilermakers
Off to its best start in over 50 years, Purdue brings an 11-1 record and a No. 28 ranking (NCBWA) into Tuesday's game. Head coach Doug Schreiber's club was the preseason pick to win the Big Ten and, bolstered by a red-hot offense, the Boilermakers have ran roughshod over the opposition so far in 2012. Senior second baseman Eric Charles (.481, 14-RBI, 5-SB) leads Purdue in hitting and steals, while returning all-conference performers Cameron Perkins (.426) and Kevin Plawecki (.404, 3-HR) have combined to drive in 37 runs through the first 12 games of the year. Three additional Boilermakers--Stephen Talbott (.442), Tyler Spillner (.404) and Barrett Serrato (.400)--are hitting .400 or better to anchor a lineup that has posted the top batting average (.376) in the nation.
On the hill, Purdue has relied on the starting trio of Lance Breedlove (2-1, 3.68), Calvin Gunter (2-0, 4.82) and Joe Haase (1-0, 5.12) to do the heavy lifting. The Boilermakers' bullpen has been solid as well, with junior right-hander Nick Wittgren (0-0, 1.23, 3 saves) and senior lefty Blake Mascarello (3-0, 1.56) leading carrying the load for a staff that has posted a 3.80 earned run average over the first month of the season.