Dates: Tuesday, Mar. 23, 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Mar. 24, 3 p.m.
Site: Hammons Field
Location: Springfield, Mo.
Radio: KBFL 99.9 FM (Tuesday); KBFL 1060 AM (Wednesday)
Live Audio: www.RadioSpringfield.com
Live Stats: www.MissouriStateBears.com
Live Video: None
Live Chat: www.MissouriStateBears.com
What's On Tap
The Missouri State baseball team (5-13) opens a five-game homestand Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. with the first of two games against Central Arkansas (7-12). The Bears host UCA again at 3 p.m. Wednesday before opening Missouri Valley Conference play Friday against Evansville (10-11).
Central Arkansas is 7-12 overall and 2-4 in Southland Conference play this season. The Bears have played three games against MVC competition this season, losing 3-2 to Creighton and falling twice at Wichita State, 14-2 and 8-2.
UCA hits .275 as a team with four regulars above the .300 mark. Zack Dickson leads the club with a .341 average, and Blake Roberts tops the Bears with four homers and 16 RBIs.
The Central Arkansas pitching staff has a 7.53 ERA and allows opponents to hit .325. The Bears will likely throw Jeremy Brewer (0-0, 7.82 ERA, 12.2 IP) on Tuesday and Chase Huchingson (1-0, 5.40, 1.2) on Wednesday.
UCA has a .964 team fielding percentage with 24 errors in 19 games.
Missouri State is 2-3 all-time against Central Arkansas, with the first meeting coming in 2008. The Bears split a four-game set with UCA that year and lost 4-3 in 10 innings last season in Springfield.
Coach Keith Guttin
Missouri State head coach Keith Guttin (Missouri-St. Louis, 1978) is in his 28th season as head coach of the baseball Bears and has a career record of 942-584 (.617). Guttin became the first coach at Missouri State (in any sport) to reach the 900-win mark with the May 11, 2008, win over Middle Tennessee at Hammons Field. In 2003, Guttin led the Bears to the NCAA Division I College World Series for the first time in school history. Guttin has been a conference Coach of the Year 10 times with four of those coming in the Valley and six coming during the Bears’ years in the Mid-Continent Conference. During Guttin’s tenure, the Bears have made seven Division I NCAA Tournament appearances -- six in the last 14 years.
Last Time Out
Missouri State played two games in Stillwater, Okla., on Friday before snow cancelled the remainder of the weekend.
Against Wright State, the Bears fell behind 3-0 in the first after the Raiders opened the game with five consecutive singles. Beau Stoker hit a two-run homer to account for MSU's offense in the 8-2 loss.
In the second game, Keenen Maddox hit an RBI triple in the first inning to put the Bears ahead 1-0 and Pat Doyle held Oklahoma State to one hit through three frames until the Cowboys scored four in the fourth to go ahead for good, eventually winning 8-2.
• Missouri State pitchers have struck out 152 batters in 156 innings this season, an average of 8.77 strikeouts per nine innings.
As a comparison, that figure would have ranked among the nation's top 25 last season.
• Aaron Meade, Pat Doyle, Grant Gordon, Mike Kickham and Pierce Johnson have each struck out at least eight batters in a game this season.
• Five Bears - Meade, Kickham, Gordon, J.C. Casey and Tyler Ryun - have posted a pitching performance of at least seven scoreless innings in their careers.
• Missouri State's team ERA has stayed level or dropped following 13 of the last 16 games.
• The MSU pitching staff has a 4.02 ERA and .289 opponent average over the last 16 games.
• Missouri State started the season 0-4 for the fourth time in school history and 0-5 for just the second time since the program's inception in 1964.
The slow start is not necessarily a bad thing, as the Bears rebounded from an 0-5 start in 1997 to make the NCAA Tournament, and an 0-4 start in 2009 to win the MVC title.
The other 0-4 start came in 1964, the program's first season of existence.
• MSU has dropped five consecutive extra inning games dating to a 13-inning win over Middle Tennessee on May 11, 2008.
The Missouri State and UT Arlington pitching staffs combined to set an NCAA record with 43 strikeouts in their Feb. 26 game in Arlington. The previous mark was set at 41 in a 1994 game between Arkansas and Auburn.
Four separate pitchers struck out at least eight hitters in the 14-inning contest, and UTA also tied an NCAA all-division record by tossing 26 strikeouts as a staff.
Strength of Schedule
Missouri State's 2010 opponents are a combined 211-174 (.548) through March 21.
Bears on TV
Missouri State will have three games this season televised live on Mediacom Connection Channel 22 in Springfield. Mediacom will broadcast games against Missouri (April 14, 6:30 p.m.), Illinois State (May 7, 6:30 p.m.) and Southern Illinois (May 22, 2 p.m.).
Players of the Week
Grant Gordon was the first Bear of the season honored with an MVC weekly award when he was named the league's pitcher of the week on March 1. Gordon pitched seven innings of scoreless relief and struck out eight batters in MSU's 14-inning game at UT Arlington the on Feb. 26.
The Bears swept the league's weekly awards March 8 with Christian Overstreet winning Player of the Week and Mike Kickham being honored as the league's top pitcher.
Overstreet batted .727 (8-for-11), slugged 1.455 and reached base safely 14 times in 17 trips to the plate. He hit two homers, two doubles, drove in six runs and scored seven while adding a stolen base, five walks, one HBP and an outfield assist.
Kickham pitched seven scoreless innings and struck out 10 against five hits to defeat North Dakota State. He took a one-hitter through five innings and fanned seven Bison hitters over his last three frames.
MissouriStateBears.com will have a live chat for most home games, offering updates and giving fans a chance to make comments or questions during the game.
Check the Bears Live or baseball schedule pages for the listing and chat icons to participate.
MSU baseball broadcasts again air on KBFL this season, with a total of 43 regular season games and all postseason action. Art Hains and Rob Evans will describe the action.
As a general rule, night games will be broadcast on 99.9 FM and day games on 1060 AM.
All broadcasts can be heard live over the internet by visiting www.RadioSpringfield.com.
Up-to-date schedule and station assignments, as well as links to listen live, can be found on the baseball schedule page of www.MissouriStateBears.com.
New Tourney Format
The 2010 State Farm MVC Tournament will have a new look, welcoming all eight league members to Wichita the final week of May.
This year's version will divide the eight teams into two pods based on regular season finish. Each four-team bracket will be a double-elimination format, with the winners squaring off in a one-game championship on Saturday evening.
Three Bears made the preseason all-MVC team while Aaron Meade was honored as a preseason third-team All-American by Ping!Baseball.
Joining Meade on the all-conference squad are junior outfielder Aaron Conway and 2009 MVC Freshman of the Year Kevin Medrano at second base.