March 19, 2012
Missouri State Game Notes
Missouri State Bears (15-6) vs. SEMO Redhawks (7-14)
Dates: Tuesday, March 20
First Pitch: 4 p.m.
Location: Cape Girardeau, Mo.
Site: Capaha Field (2,000)
Live Video: KFVS12.com (Erik Sean, Jess Bolen)
Live Stats: MissouriStateBears.com
The Missouri State Bears (15-6) will look to continue their strong start to the 2012 season Tuesday (March 20) when they travel to Cape Girardeau for their final pre-conference tune-up against the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks (7-14). The Bears, who took three out of four games from ORU over the weekend, will renew their longest-standing rivalry with a 4 p.m. matchup at Capaha Field before coming home to open Missouri Valley Conference play with a three-game set against defending league champion Creighton.
♦ MSU is assured of bringing its best start into Valley play since 2008 when they opened the league slate with a 12-4 mark
♦ Tuesday's game will mark the 100th meeting between Missouri State and SEMO
♦ The Bears held ORU to six runs over 35.0 innings, including a string of 18.1-consecutive scoreless innings at one point during the two clubs' four-game series last weekend
♦ MSU ranks 20th nationally in team earned run average (2.71) entering the week
♦ The Missouri State bullpen has posted a 0.68 ERA over the Bears' last 13 games
♦ Sophomore RHP Nick Petree posted his second-straight combined shutout March 17 vs. ORU to run his streak of consecutive scoreless innings to a career-long 14.0
♦ Petree picked up his first MVC Pitcher of the Week honor Monday
♦ Junior RHP Pierce Johnson became the first pitcher in school history to record three-straight outings of 10 or more strikeouts March 15 when he matched a career high with 12 K's at ORU
♦Senior 3B Brent Seifert has hits in four of his last nine at-bats since seeing his streak of reaching base safely end at 22 games March 15 at ORU
The Redhawks have been the Bears' most-common opponent over the course of the 49-year history of the Missouri State program. MSU holds a 61-38 edge in the series, which dates back to 1964, the Bears' first year as a varsity program. The Bears have taken seven of the last 10 meetings in the series over the last five years. Last season, the clubs split two games in Springfield.
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 since 1995. Senior outfielder Spiker Helms (.349, 3-HR, 16-RBI) ranks among the MVC's top 10 performers in a number of different offensive categories, including a league-leading nine doubles. He recorded a career-best 11-game hit streak from Feb. 18-March 6. Fellow senior Brock Chaffin (.301, 18-RBI) has come on strong as of late, accounting for 15 RBIs over the Bears' last 15 games, while junior catcher Luke Voit (.271, 3-HR, 22-RBI) has five game-winning RBIs and 16 for his MSU career to rank ninth on the Bears' career list. Senior second baseman Kevin Medrano (.260, 6-2B) returned from an early three-game hiatus with hits in six straight trips to the plate (Feb. 26-29) to break into the Bears' top 10 for career hits. Additionally, his six doubles are tied for 10th in the Valley. Additionally, senior third baseman Brent Seifert (.269, 2-HR, 20-RBI) is second on the club in RBIs and has reached base safely in 20 of the Bears' 21 games.
The Bears' top three starting pitchers have been strong through the first five weeks of the season, combining to strike-out 122 batters through 112.1 innings of work. Nick Petree (4-1, 1.54), who went 9-2 with a 2.81 ERA to garner Freshman All-America honors last spring, picked up his fourth-straight victory Saturday and his second-consecutive combined shutout with MSU's 5-0 win over ORU. Junior right-hander Pierce Johnson (1-3, 2.41) has shown stretches of dominance in each of his five 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 three starts, fanning 35 over 23.1 innings to lead the MVC in strikeouts (50). Junior righty Clay Murphy (3-1, 1.80, 1 save) permitted just two earned runs over his first 25.1 innings this year and defeated Oklahoma State for the second time in seven days March 6. Murphy leads the MVC in innings pitched (40.0) and ranks third in strikeouts (40) and fifth in ERA (1.80). Junior right-hander Cody Schumacher (2-0, 5.84) rebounded from a rough first start to post back-to-back victories, including a seven shutout innings at Northwestern State (March 4). Finally, freshman lefty Tyler Burgess (3-0, 0.00, 4 saves) has been sensational in his MSU debut, notching a victory or a save in each of his seven appearances.
About the Redhawks
SEMO is off to a 7-14 start after going 34-22 and finishing second in the Ohio Valley Conference a year ago. The Redhawks, who have dropped four-straight games coming into Tuesday's tilt, return just 10 letterwinners from last year's squad, led by senior third baseman Trenton Moses (.473, 8-HR, 29-RBI). The pre-season All-America pick ranks among the nation's leaders in hitting, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, home runs, RBIs and total bases. Moses gets plenty of help from a lineup that has averaged 9.8 runs per game and brings a collective .295 batting mark into the week, including senior shortstop Kenton Parmley (.422, 3-HR, 15-RBI), senior outfielder Kody Campbell (.275, 4 HR, 16-RBI) and sophomore outfielder Cole Bieser (.311, 8-RBI).
The Redhawks have struggled in the pitching department, allowing an average of 8.5 runs per outing while posting a team ERA of 7.56 to date. Sophomore lefty Christian Hill (2-2, 5.62) and junior right-hander Shae Simmons have been SEMO's most-effective starters so far in 2012. Junior righty Bobby Hurst (0-2, 6.17) leads the Redhawks relief corps with a pair of saves over nine outings.
New Blood Delivers New Life
The Bears' mound corps has received a boost from its newest members, particularly in the bullpen. Freshmen Tyler Burgess and Zach Merciez, and junior transfer Erik Shannahan have been nearly unhittable over the first five weeks of the season. The trio has combined for two saves, while allowing just one run on seven hits over 14.2 innings spanning 11 outings, good for a miniscule 0.61 ERA. Merciez teamed up with sophomore right-hander Nick Petree on the teams' first shutout of the season March 9 vs. SIU Edwardsville, and Burgess combined with Petree on his second-straight shutout, March 17 vs. ORU. Additionally, junior transfer Cody Schumacher gave the Bears a lift with seven shutout innings March 4 at Northwestern State to earn his second-straight victory and complete a three-game road sweep of the Demons. Burgess and Shannahan are a combined 3-0 with five saves and have yet to allow a run in 13 combined outings, spanning 18.1 innings to begin their MSU careers.
Petree Picks Up Valley Honor
After claiming his fourth-straight victory to help Missouri State take three of four games from Oral Roberts over the weekend, sophomore pitcher Nick Petree has been selected State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Pitcher of the Week for the period March 12-18, the league office announced Monday.
The weekly Valley honor is the first for Petree, who notched his second-consecutive combined shutout Saturday with a 5-0 blanking of ORU. The Clinton, Mo., product scattered six hits over eight innings, fanning a season-high nine hitters to run his streak of consecutive scoreless innings to 14.0 (March 9-17). Petree struck-out five hitters while facing the minimum through the first three innings en route to improving to 4-1 on the year. The right-hander needed just 94 pitches to complete eight- inning stint, before handing the ball to freshman lefty Tyler Burgess, who worked a scoreless ninth to register his eighth-consecutive scoreless outing.
Petree's effort Saturday followed six shutout innings in his previous start against SIU Edwardsville (March 9), over which he punched-out eight batters while allowing just two hits in a 3-0 Bears' victory.
On the year, Petree owns a share of the MVC lead with his four wins, while recording the third-lowest ERA (1.54) in the circuit and ranking fifth in strikeouts (35) and sixth in innings pitched (35.0). He becomes the second Bear to be honored by the MVC as one of its weekly award winners in 2012, joining Brent Seifert who was tabbed MVC Player of the Week on March 5.
Through the first five weeks of the season, Missouri State has already posted seven wins in nine true road games. The Bears made the most of their season-opening 12-game road swing, winning nine games--including six true road tilts. By contrast, it took the 2011 MSU squad until its 27th game on April 5 at Kansas to claim its sixth road win, and the 2010 Bears only won six road contests all season long. The school record for single-season road wins is 20, established by the 2003 squad, and MSU's streak of six consecutive road wins (Feb. 19-March 4) represented its longest since May 2009.
Pitching and Defense
Missouri State pitching combined to hold ORU scoreless for 18 1/3 straight and struck-out 41 Golden Eagles while allowing just six runs total over 35.0 IP innings during the two clubs' four-game series this past weekend. The Bears limited the Golden Eagles to a miniscule .208 batting average, while MSU was flawless in the field in 148 chances. Over their last 13 games, the Bears have posted a 1.71 ERA while fielding at a .976 clip to go 10-3.
Johnson Keeps Firing
Junior right-hander Pierce Johnson turned in his third-straight double-digit strikeout performance in a tough-luck, 1-0 setback at Oral Roberts March 15. Johnson matched a career high with 12 strikeouts and allowed just four hits in the complete-game effort, in which he became the first pitcher in the 49-year history of the Missouri State program to record three-consecutive outings of 10 or more strikeouts. He fanned 12 at Northwestern State (March 3) and 11 vs. SIU Edwardsville (March 10) in his last two starts. Johnson's two 12-strikeout games matched 13 previous performances for the 22nd-highest single-game total in school history and the most for a Bears' hurler since Mike Kickham fanned 14 Illinois State hitters on May 7, 2010. Johnson ranked third nationally in total strikeouts coming into the week.