April 7, 2014
Missouri State Game Notes
Missouri State Bears (13-15) at Missouri Tigers (14-16)
Date: Tuesday, April 8
First Pitch: 6 p.m.
Location: Columbia, Mo.
Site: Taylor Stadium (3,031)
Series History: Tied 23-23
TV: Mediacom MC-22 (Chris Gervino, Gene McArtor)
Radio: KBFL 1060 AM (Art Hains)
Live Audio: RadioSpringfield.com
Live Video: MUTigers.com
The Missouri State Bears (13-15) embark on a four-game road swing this week, beginning with the first of two meetings with the Missouri Tigers (14-16) Tuesday (April 8) evening at Taylor Stadium in Columbia. The Bears and Tigers will renew their rivalry with a 6 p.m. contest that will be aired live on Mediacom (MC-22).
Missouri State is coming off its lone bye weekend of the 2014 season after splitting a pair of midweek contests with Saint Louis and Oral Roberts last week. Mizzou salvaged the final game of its SEC series against Georgia on Sunday to stop a four-game slide.
Up next, MSU travels to Peoria for a three-game Missouri Valley Conference series with the Bradley Braves, beginning with a Noon contest Friday (April 11) at Dozer Park. The Bears and Tigers will square off again the following Tuesday (April 15) in a 6:35 p.m. game at Hammons Field.
♦ The Bears and Tigers have split their previous 46 games in a series that dates back to 1975; MSU is 11-13 all-time vs. MU in Columbia, but has won seven of the last nine meetings at Taylor Stadium since 2002
♦ MSU has averaged 8.6 runs per outing over its last nine games against the Tigers in Columbia dating back to 2002
♦ Despite ranking last in the Valley in team batting (.252), the Bears' 18 home runs is the second-highest total in the conference, while their average of 0.64 homers per game ranks 31st nationally
♦ Eric Cheray has reached base safely in each of his last nine plate appearances, going 5-for-5 with four walks over MSU's last three games
♦ Cheray is hitting .474 (9-for-19) with seven walks--good for a .615 on-base percentage--as well as three steals and eight runs scored over his current six-game hit streak
♦ Dylan Becker is a career .333 hitter in four previous games against Mizzou, including a 3-for-7 (.429) showing in the Bears' two contests with the Tigers last spring
♦ Clay Murphy is coming off the first combined shutout of his MSU career last Tuesday vs. Saint Louis; the fifth-year senior matched a career best with 11 strikeouts while allowing just two hits and a pair of walks in 8.0 innings
♦ Joey Hawkins leads the Valley in both sacrifices (6) and assists (97); the junior shortstop ranks third on the Bears' all-time SACs list with 20, trailing only Cheray (23) and former teammate Kevin Medrano (28)
♦ Conor Smith ranks sixth on MSU's career fielding percentage list with a .989 mark in 95 games as a Bear; the senior first baseman equaled a school record with 19 putouts vs. Southern Illinois on March 29
The Bears and Tigers have evenly split their previous 46 meetings in a series that dates back to 1975. MSU is 11-13 vs. Missouri on its home field, but has claimed seven of the last nine meetings at Taylor Stadium since 2002.
Last season, Mizzou pulled out a 5-4 victory in Springfield (April 9), before the Bears rode the pitching of Matt Hall and a two-run homer from Eric Cheray to a 4-2 win in Columbia (April 24). The Bears are 50-76 all-time against the current membership of the Southeastern Conference, including a 1-2 mark last year vs. SEC clubs.
Hooray for Cheray
Junior second baseman Eric Cheray enters the week swinging the Bears' hottest bat with hits in each of his last five official at-bats, as well as a streak of reaching base safely in nine-consecutive plate appearances. Cheray's extended streak is the second nine-gamer in as many seasons for a Bear, following a Koby Peebles hot streak that included hits in eight consecutive at-bats, March 19-29, 2012.
Cheray's recent streak is just one of many memorable stretches for the Topeka, Kan., native as a Bear, including a dominant all-around performance in Missouri State's 3-1 showing at the Lobo Invite in Albuquerque (Feb. 21-23). Cheray batted .529 (9-for-17) and slugged 1.235 with a pair of home runs and 9 RBIs in MSU's four games. Six of his nine hits went for extra bases, including an inside-the-park home run in an 11-0 win over Northern Illinois (Feb. 22) and a grand slam that sealed a 6-1 win over host New Mexico later that evening.
Reversal of Fortune
Missouri State reached the midway point of the regular season with just its second sub-.500 record in the last six years. The Bears have posted winning second halves in all but two of those same seasons, but have struggled over the last four years with just a .469 (53-60) cumulative record in the second half. That stretch follows two of the most successful finishes in school history, with the 2008 and 2009 MSU squads combining to go 40-15 (.727) in the second halves of those two campaigns.
Back in the Win Column
It took 725 days and multiple surgeries, but senior pitcher Clay Murphy put another notch in the win column Tuesday with his first combined shutout as a Bear in an 8-0 victory over Saint Louis. The right-hander matched a career high with 11 strikeouts, while limiting the Billikens to a pair of harmless singles and two walks over 8.0 innings to earn his first victory since a road win over Bradley on April 7, 2012. Murphy, who missed all of 2013 due to injury, held SLU hitless until the fifth inning and retired 12 of the final 14 batters he faced--including 10 straight at one point--before turning the ball over to his bullpen in the ninth.