March 26, 2013
Missouri State Game Notes
Missouri State Bears (14-6) vs. SEMO Redhawks (12-13)
Dates/Times: Wednesday, March 27
First Pitch: 3:30 p.m.
Location: Springfield, Mo.
Site: Hammons Field (8,000)
Series History: Missouri State leads 62-38
Radio: KBFL 1060 AM (Art Hains, Terry Clayton)
Live Audio and Video: None
Tickets: (417) 836-7678
Promotions: Dollar Day-MSU student tickets $1 each
After an eight-day layoff since their last game action, the Missouri State Bears return home to open a four-game homestand Wednesday (March 27) with a 3:30 p.m. midweek contest against the SEMO Redhawks at Hammons Field. MSU will be seeking its third straight victory in the series and its ninth win in the last 12 meetings with SEMO.
The Bears (14-6), who will open Missouri Valley Conference play with a three-game home series against Indiana State this weekend, are coming off a doubleheader split with New Mexico last Tuesday in Albuquerque. MSU dropped a 6-5 decision in 11 innings in the first game before rebounding for a comfortable 8-2 victory in the nightcap.
SEMO (12-13) lost two out of three games against Morehead State over the weekend and will be looking to snap out of a recent slide that has seen it drop four out of its last five contests.
♦Missouri State holds a 62-38 all-time advantage in its series with SEMO and is 5-1 at home in 2013
♦Bears starting pitchers have recorded a 2.18 ERA and 109 strikeouts over 115.1 innings of work this season and have yet to yield a home run
♦With 1,046 wins as Bears head coach, Keith Guttin enters the week 14th on the NCAA's Division I active coaching victories list and 41st on the NCAA's all-time Division I victories list
♦OF Keenen Maddox is 6-for-14 (.429) with 5 RBIs in four career games against SEMO
♦DH Koby Peebles leads the MVC in doubles (9) and 3B Joey Hawkins ranks second in the league in triples (2)
♦OF Tate Matheny leads all MVC freshmen in hits (31), total bases (42), slugging (.519) and home runs (2)
♦Led by Matheny's .458 average, MSU has hit a collective .293 in six home games at Hammons Field this year
♦Matheny's 31 hits are the most on record for a Missouri State player through their first 20 collegiate games
♦MSU freshmen Andy Cheray, Matt Hall and Jonathan Harris have combined to strike out 44 batters, allowing just 11 earned runs over 48.1 innings pitched, good for an ERA of 2.05
The Redhawks have been the Bears' most-common opponent over the course of the 50-year history of the Missouri State program. MSU holds a 62-38 edge in the series, which dates back to 1964, the Bears' first year as a varsity program.
The Bears have taken eight of the last 11 meetings in the series over the last six years, including an 8-1 victory in Cape Girardeau last season.
About the Bears
Coming off a 40-22 campaign and their ninth NCAA Division I Regional appearance, Missouri State is once again on course to compete for the top spot in the Missouri Valley Conference with wins in 14 of its first 20 games this season. For the second straight year, head coach Keith Guttin's Bears were tabbed as the MVC's preseason favorite by the league's coaches, thanks largely to the return of 17 letterwinners, including the bulk of a pitching staff that led the nation in team earned run average last spring. Leading the way once again is 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 is off to a 3-0 start with the second-best ERA in the MVC (1.09) through five starts to pace a staff that has recorded a 2.73 team ERA through 20 games. Freshman righty Jonathan Harris has made a significant impact as well over his first four collegiate starts, claiming wins in each while posting a 1.80 ERA. Sophomore NCBWA National Stopper of the Year candidate Tyler Burgess has been strong out of the bullpen for MSU, logging three wins, a pair of saves and a 0.79 ERA thus far after earning Freshman All-America and MVC Freshman of the Year recognition in 2012.
In the field, the Bears return five regulars from last year's club, including senior catcher Luke Voit, a Johnny Bench Award candidate for the second consecutive season. Voit's .313 batting mark and 13 RBIs rank second on the Bears behind freshman outfielder Tate Matheny, who ranks among the Valley's top 10 in hitting (.383), slugging percentage (.519), on-base percentage (.452), hits (31), home runs (2), RBIs (14) and total bases (42). Infielders Travis McComack and Eric Cheray have driven in nine runs apiece while ranking among the league's leaders in sacrifices and walks, respectively. Senior DH Koby Peebles has been one of the Bears' most consistent contributors, registering 11 RBIs and an MVC-best nine doubles so far. Finally, junior first baseman Conor Smith shares the team lead with a pair of homers, slugging .511 to rank second on a squad that has posted a .265 team batting mark through 20 games.
About the Redhawks
SEMO returns 19 letterwinners from last year's club that went 23-36 and finished sixth in the Ohio Valley Conference. Interim head coach Steve Bieser's squad enters the week hitting .279 as a club, led by sophomore Ryan Barnes's .366 average. Junior Derek Gibson and freshman Clayton Evans have turned in strong starts to the season as well, with each hitting .333 through the Redhawks' first 25 games. Sophomore Andy Lennington enters Wednesday's game with a team-best 21 RBIs and a .525 slugging percentage, while junior Matt Tellor's five home runs leads the club. Finally, junior Cole Bieser has started all 25 contests for the Redhawks, posting a .297 batting mark while swiping a team-high seven bases.
On the mound, SEMO relies on a deep bullpen led by senior Bobby Hurst, who has posted an 0.84 ERA while picking up a pair of wins and three saves in 11 appearances. Another senior right-hander, Michael Patman, has been nearly perfect for the Redhawks with seven scoreless innings over five outings thus far, while freshman Alex Siddle has yielded just one run in eight appearances. Senior right-handers Tony Zerrusen and Trevor Kill have been the workhorses for SEMO, completing 41.0 innings over 24 combined appearances to help the Redhawks post a 4.65 team ERA to date.
A comparison of the Bears' performance over their last 10 games compared to their first 10 contests this season yields a model of consistency, with MSU going 7-3 over each half of the season to date. Two notable developments can be observed with a closer examination, however. First, MSU's offensive numbers have improved slightly, with the Bears hitting .277 and slugging .371 as a team over the last 10 games, versus a .251 average and .332 slugging percentage in their first 10 outings. Second, the Bears' defense has been solid as of late with a .971 fielding percentage compared to just a .960 team mark in the first 10 games of the season.
On the flip side, MSU pitchers have remained in mid-season form with a 2.99 team ERA over the last 10 contests, after the Bears began the year with a stellar 2.46 mark over their first 10 games.
What Little Difference a Year Makes
While the Bears' performance has been remarkably even throughout the new season, a look back at their numbers through 20 games of the 2012 season reveals an even stronger base of consistency over the last two years. The 2012 Bears posted a .264 (180-for-683) team batting average and outscored the opposition 102-66 to claim 14 wins in their first 20 contests. This year's squad has tallied 106 runs versus 72 for the opposition, while batting .265 (184-for-695) as a unit to notch an identical 14-6 season mark. The biggest offensive disparity between the two clubs lies in the power numbers, with last year's team hitting nine homers and slugging .372 through 20 games, versus the 2013 Bears' five long balls and .353 team slugging percentage. This year's lineup has drawn a league-best 104 walks, while the Bears coaxed only 86 free passes to this point in the 2012 season.
On the defensive side, the 2012 club got off to a blazing-hot start in the field, posting a .973 team fielding percentage with just 21 errors over its first 20 contests en route to a Missouri State record .969 season fielding mark by year's end. This year's team started slowly, but has improved dramatically over the last 10 games to lift its season figure to .965, with 28 total team errors to this point.
Where the comparison gets especially eerie is in examining the pitching numbers of the two clubs. Last year's staff, which went on to record a Bears record and Division I-low 2.57 team ERA, logged a 2.75 team mark through 20 games, as well as 174 strikeouts versus 59 walks over 177.0 innings. This season, Bears hurlers have recorded 179 strikeouts versus 64 bases-on-balls in 184.2 innings pitched, as well as a team ERA of 2.73. Furthermore, MSU pitchers this season have held their opponents to a .239 batting average -- two points lower than the .241 opponent average through 20 games of the 2012 season.
Prior to a game-tying, seventh-inning home run by New Mexico's D.J. Peterson in the first game of last Tuesday's doubleheader in Albuquerque, Missouri State pitchers had turned in 172.0 straight innings without yielding a long ball in 2013.
Furthermore, Bears starting pitchers still have not given up a gopher ball in MSU's last 22 games--a span of 137.1 consecutive innings--dating back to last year's NCAA Regional.
The string of homer-less innings is the second notable streak in as many years for Bears pitchers. Last spring, MSU pitchers combined to keep the opposition in the yard for 15 straight games, April 1-27. The Bears did not allow a home run at Hammons Field over a span of 12 consecutive home games, and MSU starters did not yield any long balls over a stretch of 722 straight opponent at-bats spanning 23 games. Over Missouri State's last 60 games dating back to March 20, 2012, Bears starting pitchers have given up just three homers in a total of 385.1 innings, or nearly 1,600 opponent at-bats.
A Fine How-Do-You-Do
Freshman outfielder Tate Matheny has wasted little time in establishing himself as one of the Bears' top all-around performers over the first month of the season. The St. Louis native is hitting a club-best .383 for the year with team highs of two homers, 14 runs batted-in and 12 multi-hit efforts while starting all 20 games as the Bears' centerfielder. He also posted a 10-game hit streak (Feb. 17-March 9) and his 31 hits are the most on record for any Missouri State player through their first 20 collegiate games in the 50-year history of the program.
Harris Hot as Well
With Matheny leaving his mark on the MSU offense, fellow freshman Jonathan Harris has enjoyed immediate success on the mound for the Bears as well. With his 10-4 decision over Western Illinois (March 16), the right-hander became the first MSU pitcher on record to log victories in each of his first four starts as a Bear.
The Florissant, Mo., product held the opposition without an earned run for 17.0 straight innings Feb. 22-March 9, becoming 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 after Tyler Burgess accomplished the feat in 2012. Harris currently ranks third in the Valley in ERA (1.80) and eighth in strikeouts (26), trailing only Nick Petree for the team lead after fanning at total of 24 batters in 19.0 innings over his last three starts. Harris also combined on MSU's lone shutout of the season, a 5-0 win over Northwestern State (March 3).