Baseball Bears travel to Wichita for key MVC series
The Missouri State baseball team (17-8, 4-2 Missouri Valley Conference) will travel to preseason conference favorite Wichita State (22-3, 3-0) this weekend and try to put a stop to WSU's 19-game win streak during a three-game series at Eck Stadium in Wichita. The series will pit the top two hitting teams in the MVC against each other, and each game can be heard on KBFL radio in Springfield.
Wichita State is 22-3 on the season and has won 19 consecutive games. The Shockers are 18-0 this season at Eck Stadium and are ranked 12th or higher in all of college baseball's major polls. In fact, all three of WSU's losses came at Long Beach State the second weekend of the season.
WSU leads the Valley in hitting with a .321 average, and junior third baseman Conor Gillaspie tops the individual list with a .430 average. Seven Shocker regulars hit above .300, and the team has swiped 47 bases in 54 attempts.
The WSU pitching staff leads the league with a 3.10 ERA and .226 average against.
Weekend starters Rob Musgrave (4-0, 2.13 ERA), Aaron Shafer (4-1, 2.23) and Anthony Capra (4-0, 1.17) pose a formidable challenge for any offense.
Wichita State leads the all-time series 50-25 and had beaten the Bears 16 straight times before MSU upset the Shockers in the first round of last season's MVC Tournament at Hammons Field.
LIVE STATS INFORMATION
Live stats for most Missouri State baseball games will be available at www.missouristatebears.com. Click "Live Stats" on the left side of the page and select the appropriate game.
COACH KEITH GUTTIN
Missouri State head coach Keith Guttin (Missouri-St. Louis, 1978) is in his 26th season as head coach of the baseball Bears and has a career record of 881-544 (.618). Guttin became the first coach at Missouri State (in any sport) to reach the 800-win mark with the May 11, 2005, win over Kansas 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 nine times with three 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 13 years.
LAST TIME OUT
Missouri State entered the seventh inning of Tuesday's game with Arkansas trailing 3-0 but scored three runs to tie it and another two in the eighth to go ahead 5-3 entering the ninth. Arkansas responded with three in the top of the ninth, but Brayden Drake had the answer for the Bears with a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the frame.
UA again scored in the 10th, and MSU put a runner on second with no outs and advanced him to third with one out, but failed to score the tying run, falling 7-6 to the visiting Razorbacks.
Opposing starters have an ERA of 8.06 against Missouri State this season while allowing the Bears to hit .340 against them.
In the last 12 games, opponents have stolen just four bases against the Bears in six attempts, while MSU is 20-for-24 over the same span.
The stolen base discrepancy is also large in six league contests, with MSU going a perfect 13-for-13 on the basepaths and opponents checking in at 0-for-1.
The MSU pitching staff has a 4.15 ERA in the last 13 contests, and opponents are hitting .245 over that time.
The Bears are 8-2 this season in games decided by three runs or less, and 12-0 when limiting opponents to five runs or fewer.
Missouri State has been hot offensively in the final two innings this year, scoring 46 total runs and batting .355.
The Bears are outscoring their opposition 46-20 in the eighth and ninth frames.
MSU has been even more impressive in the third inning, hitting .400 as a team. Throw in its .339 average in the fourth, and the offense is outscoring opponents 62-32 in those two innings.
Ben Woodbury has hit safely in 23 of 25 games in 2008, notching multiple hits 13 times and is averaging 1.72 hits per game.
Brayden Drake has also hit safely in 23 contests this seasons. His only two hitless showings came in games when he had fewer than three at bats.
Seven different Bears have recorded hit streaks of at least seven games this year, and four of those streaks have extended to at least nine games.
Seven different players have had a four-RBI game this season.
MSU is hitting .362 as a team with runners in scoring position. Brayden Drake already has 48 at-bats in that situation, coming through with 20 hits for a .417 average.
Drake batted .435 with 20 RBIs during his 15-game hit streak that lasted from Feb 29 to Mar. 23.
The Bears have scored in the first inning in 12 of 25 games this season.
Nolan Keane (22nd-18), Brayden Drake (27th-15) and Ben Carlson (30th-12) each rank among the top 30 home run hitters in school history.
Drake's six-RBI performance March 9 against Iowa represented the highest total for a Bear in a game since Shaun Marcum drove in six against Bradley in 2002.
All six of Drake's RBIs came in the third inning of that game.
Senior Ben Woodbury ranks as the 27th most difficult batter to strike out in the country this season in the NCAA statistics released for games through March 30.
He has gone down on strikes six times this year in 102 at bats, a 17.0 average, upping his career average to one strikeout every 14.6 at bats.
Woodbury finished 2007 ranked 49th with a 13.8 average, and went 83 at bats and 100 total plate appearances without striking out midway through the season.
Ben Carlson slugged two home runs in the season opener at Dallas Baptist, the 135th multi-homer game in school history.
It was the second multiple home run game in his career, making him the 26th player at MSU to record more than one multi-homer game.
Aaron Meade is allowing opponents to hit just .204 (11-54) against him with runners on base and .189 (7-37) with two outs.
Meade is not the only Bear hurler to have success with runners on this season as Tim Clubb (.171, 13-76) and Sean Toler (.150, 3-20) are also holding opponents to well under .200 hitting in that situation.
The MSU pitching staff is allowing teams to hit only .245 with two outs.
Missouri State is 15-3 in Friday, Saturday and Sunday games.