MSU Has Won Five of Last Seven Games Entering Wednesday's Non-Conference Tilt in Tulsa
April 2, 2014
Missouri State Game Notes
Missouri State Bears (13-14) at Oral Roberts Golden Eagles (12-14)
Date: Wednesday, April 2
First Pitch: 6:30 p.m.
Location: Tulsa, Okla.
Site: J.L. Johnson Stadium (2,418)
Series History: ORU leads 28-20
Radio: KBFL 1060 AM (Art Hains)
Live Audio: RadioSpringfield.com
Live Video: ORUGoldenEagles.com
After blasting Saint Louis by an 8-0 margin to complete a five-game homestand Tuesday, the Missouri State Bears (13-14) will travel to Tulsa for the second of three games in their season series with the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles (12-14) Wednesday (April 2) at 6:30 p.m. at J.L. Johnson Stadium.
Missouri State is riding the momentum from a 4-1 homestand, entering play Wednesday having won five of its last seven games. The Bears struck for a pair of first-inning runs against the visiting Billikens Tuesday and never looked back, as Clay Murphy tossed 8.0 innings of two-hit ball and matched a career high with 11 strikeouts, while the MSU offense connected on a season-best three home runs to defeat SLU for the 31st time in 35 meetings in Springfield.
This weekend offers the lone break in the Bears' 2014 schedule, with no additional games on the docket until next Tuesday's (April 8) rivalry game with Missouri at Taylor Stadium in Columbia.
♦ ORU leads the overall series with the Bears 28-20, but MSU has claimed 12 of the last 15 meetings with the Golden Eagles, including five of the last six contests played in Tulsa
♦ After going eight games without scoring at least five runs, MSU has reached the same mark in five straight games, going 4-1 over its recently completed homestand
♦ MSU ranks second in the MVC in team home runs (17), as well as in team fielding percentage (.969); the Bears have accounted for seven home runs over their past five contests after going homerless in their previous eight games
♦ Tate Matheny delivered his first multi-homer game as a Bear Sunday to help MSU surpass its 2013 season total (13) for team home runs in just its 26th game of 2014; the sophomore shares the MVC lead with five homers
♦ Matheny is a career .417 hitter in three previous games against Oral Roberts
♦ Led by Sam Perez's first two collegiate victories and 11.1 innings of solid relief, the Bears' bullpen combined to post a 1.35 ERA while holding the opposition to a .164 batting mark on its 4-1 homestand; for the season, MSU's relief corps has logged a 2.83 ERA to go along with a 6-4 record and four saves
♦ Eric Cheray has an active five-game hit streak and has either scored twice or driven in at least two runs in each of the Bears' last four games
♦ Conor Smith matched a Missouri State single-game record with 19 putouts Saturday vs. Southern Illinois; the senior first baseman ranks sixth on the Bears' career fielding percentage chart (.9889)
♦ The Bears' bench contributed in a big way during its recent homestand, as MSU reserves combined to hit .421 with two home runs over the five-game stretch
In a series that dates back to 1979, ORU brings a 28-20 all-time advantage versus the Bears into Wednesday¡¦s game. MSU has gotten the better of the Golden Eagles over the last seven seasons, however, winning 12 of the two clubs¡¦ 15 meetings, including a 3-2 road victory in 10 innings in the two clubs¡¦ first meeting this season on Feb. 25. The Bears have taken five of the last six road meetings overall in the series dating back to the 2010 season, but are just 9-19 all-time against ORU in Tulsa.
A March of Madness
The Bears' 6-5 win over Southern Illinois Sunday provided a happy ending to an otherwise frustrating month of March, which has traditionally been MSU most successful month over its five-decade history as a varsity program. Entering the 2014 campaign with an all-time .636 winning percentage in March, the Bears suffered through a 5-12 month this season that included the second-longest losing streak in school history, as well as a 58-inning scoreless drought and five one-run setbacks. That mark represents MSU's worst March since 1993 when it went just 4-15, and is just the second sub-.500 month overall for the Bears over their last 14 regular-season calendar months spanning three seasons. The 1993 Bears did rebound to go 16-4 in April of that season--their best mark in a single month over the last 24 seasons in which they played at least 20 games--and finished the year 32-23 overall.
Sam's the Man
Bears right-hander Sam Perez continued his standout start to the 2014 campaign this week, allowing just one run on six hits while striking out nine and walking none in two relief appearances spanning 11.1 innings to earn his first two collegiate victories. He logged a personal-best 8 1/3 innings to earn his first win as a Bear Wednesday vs. Arkansas State before topping off MSU's MVC series win over Southern Illinois with three shutout innings to notch a second victory. The Branson, Mo., product fanned six batters while walking none and allowing just four hits and three hit batsmen vs. ASU in the longest relief outing for a Missouri State pitcher since Matt Hall's 8.1-inning stint vs. Wichita State last May. Perez, a sophomore who made just two relief appearances for MSU as a rookie last spring, posted another strong showing to help MSU claim the rubber match in its series with SIU, fanning three and allowing just two singles in his three innings of work. For the season, Perez has limited the opposition to a mere .152 batting mark and struck out 19 batters while issuing just two walks and giving up three runs on 10 hits over 18.2 innings, good for an ERA of 1.45.
Putting the `Tate' in Tater
Tate Matheny powered the Bears to an MVC series win over Southern Illinois last weekend, batting .500 (6-for-12) with three home runs, six RBIs and five runs scored in the Bears' three league games vs. the Salukis. Overall, Matheny batted .300 for the week to help MSU claim three of its five contests, but the sophomore center fielder saved his best work for the Bears' first home conference series. After going hitless in his first eight at-bats on the week, Matheny reached base safely in 10 of his final 14 plate appearances vs. SIU to help the Bears take two of the three contests. He went 1-for-3 with a pair of walks, an RBI and a steal in Friday's 8-3 victory before totaling three hits in five plate appearances--including a home run and two runs scored in Saturday's game--to begin a stretch that would see the St. Louis native belt three long balls in five official at-bats.
In Sunday's series-clinching victory, Matheny blasted a pair of two-run homers, going deep in the first inning to stake the Bears to an early lead, before erasing a two-run deficit with another circuit clout with two out in the seventh inning. Matheny's first career two-homer game allowed MSU to surpass its 2013 season home run total (13) in just the 26th game of the season. It also marked the first multi-tater effort by a Bear since Keenen Maddox accomplished the feat against Arkansas State on April 3, 2012. It also represents the 144th multi-homer game in school history, but just the 16th over the last decade.