April 1, 2013
Missouri State Game Notes
Missouri State Bears (18-6) at Oral Roberts Golden Eagles (9-18)
Date/Time: Tuesday, April 2 - 6:30 p.m.
Location: Tulsa, Okla.
Site: J.L. Johnson Stadium (2,418)
Series History: ORU leads 26-19 (MSU has won three straight)
Radio: KBFL 1060 AM (Art Hains, Terry Clayton)
Live Audio and Video: ORUGoldenEagles.com
After going 4-0 last week to earn their first Top 25 ranking in nearly a decade, the Missouri State Bears will look to extend their season-high five-game win streak Tuesday (April 2) when they travel to Tulsa, Okla., for a 6:30 p.m. contest against the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles at J.L. Johnson Stadium.
The Bears (18-6) swept Indiana State in a three-game series over the weekend to open Missouri Valley Conference play and cap their first unbeaten week this season. MSU turned in its best offensive week of the year, batting .347 in its four wins, while Bears hurlers held the opposition to a mere .203 average.
Oral Roberts (9-18) dropped two of three games to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi over the weekend after sweeping nationally-ranked Central Arkansas to open Southland Conference play the previous week.
MSU will conclude a four-game road swing with three MVC contests against Illinois State in Normal, Ill. The Bears and Redbirds will open their series at Duffy Bass Field Friday (April 5) at 6 p.m., before squaring off in single games Saturday (2 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.).
♦The Bears have won 11 of their last 12 games vs. ORU over the last five seasons, but the Golden Eagles still hold a 26-19 advantage in the series
♦Missouri State pitching 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 season
♦MSU is ranked No. 25 in this week's Perfect Game USA College Top 25 poll -- its first top 25 ranking since 2003
♦In each of the Bears' last six wins, a freshman has recorded either the game-winning RBI or a pitching victory
♦Freshmen Matt Hall and Jonathan Harris are a combined 8-0 with a 1.24 ERA and 50 K's in 50.2 IP this season
♦RHP Nick Petree leads the Valley and ranks seventh nationally in ERA (0.86)
♦OF Tate Matheny shares the Valley lead in total hits (41) and ranks 34th among all Division I players with a .406 average; the St. Louis native is hitting .480 (24-for-50) over the course of his career-best 11-game hit streak
♦Matheny's current average of 1.708 hits per game is the highest mark for any freshman in MSU history
♦DH Koby Peebles and OF Keenen Maddox share the MVC lead with nine doubles
The Bears hold a commanding 58-37 lead in their series with Indiana State after taking two of three meetings each of the last two seasons. MSU has been dominant in the series over the last five seasons, claiming 11 victories while dropping just four games. The Bears have posted a 5-1 mark against ISU at Hammons Field over the same span.
Last year, Indiana State won the first game of the series in Terre Haute to wrap up the MVC regular-season crown. But the Bears rebounded to pull out a 7-5 game-two win, before Pierce Johnson and Tyler Burgess combined on a five-hit shutout in the rubber game of the series.
About the Bears
Coming off a 40-22 campaign and their eighth 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 18 of its first 24 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 4-0 start with the second-best ERA in the MVC (0.86) through six starts to pace a staff that has recorded a 2.71 team ERA through 24 games. Freshman right-hander Jonathan Harris has made a significant impact as well over his first five collegiate starts, claiming wins in each while posting a 1.36 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 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 19 RBIs and five steals lead MSU, while his .306 batting mark ranks fourth on the squad. Freshman outfielder Tate Matheny has been nothing short of outstanding in his first month of collegiate action, ranking among the Valley's top 10 in hitting (.406), slugging percentage (.545), on-base percentage (.465), hits (41), home runs (2), RBIs (18) and total bases (55). Senior shortstop Travis McComack has been hot at the plate lately, reaching base safely in each of his last 12 games while driving in the game-winning RBI in a team-best four contests this year. Senior DH Koby Peebles has been one of the Bears' most consistent contributors, registering 13 RBIs and an MVC-best nine doubles so far. Sophomore Joey Hawkins has taken hold of the everyday third base job and established himself as an offensive threat as well. The Whitby, Ontario native is second on the club with a .321 batting average after a career day Sunday in which he went 4-for-4 and reached base safely in all six trips to the plate. Finally, junior first baseman Conor Smith shares the team lead with a pair of homers, slugging .509 to rank second on a squad that has posted a .279 team batting mark through 24 games.
About the Golden Eagles
Oral Roberts brings a 9-18 mark into Tuesday's game after engaging seven ranked opponents in its first 27 games. First-year head coach Ryan Folmar welcomed back 19 letterwinners from last year's 38-25 squad that captured a conference title and an NCAA Regional berth. The Golden Eagles are led at the plate by senior infielder Nate Goro's .309 batting mark, while sophomore outfielder Logan Domenico (.297 BA, 14 RBIs) paces the squad with 19 runs scored and four stolen bases. Additionally, senior first baseman Chris Williams (.235, 11 RBIs) and sophomore infielder Jose Trevino (.210, 13 RBIs) have combined for six of ORU's 10 home runs on the year, and sophomore infielder Matt Brandy (.256) leads the team with 15 RBIs.
On the mound, ORU features junior right-hander Alex Gonzalez, whose three wins and 1.82 earned run average paces a staff that has posted a 4.31 team ERA to date. Senior right-hander Tim Zufall has been solid for the Golden Eagles as well, matching Gonzalez's three wins and logging a 2.93 ERA in seven overall appearances, including four starting assignments. Sophomore right-hander Nathan Garza (0-2, 3.06 ERA) has two of ORU's three saves and a team-high 13 appearances through the first 27 games of the season.
Bears Bring the `O' Against ORU
In winning 11 of the last 12 meetings in its series with the Golden Eagles, Missouri State has thrived at the plate. The Bears have scored 84 runs against ORU, or an average of 7.0 per game, over the last five seasons. Additionally, MSU has hit a collective .302 (127-for-420) with 14 homers against Golden Eagle pitching over the same span. Individually, Keenen Maddox is a .308 (8-for-26) hitter in seven career games against ORU, and Luke Voit went 6-for-14 (.429) with five RBIs to help the Bears claim three of four games from the Golden Eagles last season.
MSU's pitching staff enjoyed a strong 2012 showing against ORU as well, combining to hold the Golden Eagles to a .208 team batting mark and just six total runs in the four-game series.
The Bears' three wins versus Indiana State over the weekend marked the second-straight series sweep of a defending MVC regular-season champ on the opening weekend of Valley play for Missouri State. Nick Petree's two-hit, 3-0 shutout on Friday not only represented the Bears' eighth-consecutive opening-day win in MVC play, but also marked the second year in a row Missouri State has blanked the opposition in its conference opener. Last year, Pierce Johnson worked a five-hitter to beat 2011 league titlist Creighton by the same 3-0 score in the Bears' MVC lid-lifter. MSU went on to sweep the Bluejays, allowing just three runs in the entire series.
This year's sweep of Indiana State handed the Bears their seventh series win on opening weekend of conference play in the last eight years.
Riding the crest of a five-game win streak and a three-game sweep of ISU to kick off the Valley season, the Bears secured their first regular-season top 25 ranking in nearly a decade Monday, when they were tabbed for the No. 25 spot in Perfect Game USA's College Top 25 poll. MSU also received votes in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers of America (NCBWA) Top 30 for the first time during the 2013 regular season.
For Missouri State, which ranked 31st in Collegiate Baseball's preseason poll, this week's citation marks their first regular-season top 25 ranking since the final 2003 polls, in which the Bears peaked at No. 8 (Collegiate Baseball) following their College World Series appearance.
Reunited and It Feels So Good
Missouri State's weekend rotation got a much-welcomed boost Sunday with the return of senior right-hander Cody Schumacher, who made his first appearance since March 5 with eight shutout innings vs. Indiana State. Schumacher struck out seven and held the Sycamores to just three base-runners -- two singles and a walk -- and retired the final 11 batters he faced before handing the ball off to his bullpen with a four-run lead.
With Schumacher's effort Sunday, the Bears' three weekend starters -- Schumacher, Nick Petree and Jonathan Harris -- combined to strike out 22 batters while allowing just eight total hits and a single unearned run in 25.0 innings against ISU. On the year, the trio is now a combined 10-0 with a 1.11 ERA and 99 strikeouts over 97.0 innings.
Matheny, Petree Grab Valley Honors
On the heels of a perfect 4-0 week and a three-game sweep of Indiana State to open Missouri Valley Conference play, Tate Matheny and Nick Petree were tabbed MVC Player and Pitcher of the Week, respectively, the league office announced Monday. Petree improved to 4-0 on the season by fanning a season-high 10 hitters in his two-hit shutout of the Sycamores, while Matheny batted .500 for the week and stretched his career-best hit streak to 11 games in helping the Bears garner their first top 25 ranking in nearly a decade.
The duo joined MSU senior right-hander Cody Schumacher on the Bears' list of 2013 honorees. Schumacher was named MVC Pitcher of the Week on Feb. 18, after helping lead the Bears to a 2-1 start at the CenturyLink Bobcat Invitational. Schumacher matched a career high with nine strikeouts while allowing just one run on six hits in the Bears' 3-2 victory over Sam Houston State (Feb. 16).