MSU Looks to Extend Early-Season Home Magic in Non-Conference Contest With Missouri
April 8, 2013
Missouri State Game Notes
Missouri State Bears (19-8) vs. Missouri Tigers (11-17)
Dates/Times: Tuesday, April 9 - 6:35 p.m.
Location: Springfield, Mo.
Site: Hammons Field (8,000)
Series History: Tied 22-22 (MU has won two straight)
TV: Mediacom MC-22 (Don West, Mike McClure)
Radio: KBFL 1060 AM (Art Hains, Terry Clayton)
Live Audio and Video: Bears All-Access
Tickets: (417) 836-7678
Promotions: Bears Bingo; T-Shirt Trade Up
The Missouri State Bears return to Hammons Field Tuesday (April 9) to renew their in-state rivalry with the Missouri Tigers in a 6:35 p.m. non-conference tilt. MSU will look to continue a hot start to its home season, with four straight wins and a 9-1 overall mark at Hammons to its credit.
The Bears (19-8, 4-2 MVC) dropped the first two games of their Missouri Valley Conference series with Illinois State this past weekend before recovering for an 8-3 win in the finale on Sunday. MSU is off to a 4-2 start in Valley play for the second year in a row thanks to a sweep of Indiana State over the opening weekend of conference play.
Missouri (11-17, 4-8 SEC) has recovered from an 0-6 start to its campaign, posting its first-ever SEC series win this past weekend with two wins in a three-game set vs. Georgia in Athens.
MSU returns to the road for the second straight weekend in conference play Friday (April 12) when it opens a three-game set against Southern Illinois in Carbondale.
♦Missouri State and Missouri have split their previous 44 meetings, with the Tigers claiming both games in the 2012 season series
♦The Bears are 9-1 at home in 2013 and 46-15 (.754) at Hammons Field since the beginning of the 2011 season
♦In each of the Bears' last seven wins, a freshman has recorded either a game-winning RBI or a pitching victory; Freshmen Matt Hall and Jon Harris are a combined 9-0 with a 1.51 ERA and 57 K's in 59.2 IP this season
♦Harris leads the MVC and ranks 13th in all of Division I baseball with six victories
♦MSU's pitching staff ranks 16th nationally with a 2.95 K-BB ratio and 20th in team ERA (2.76)
♦RHP Nick Petree leads the Valley and ranks ninth nationally in ERA (0.73)
♦SS Travis McComack has reached base safely in 15 straight games and has a team-high four GWRBI this year
♦OF Tate Matheny is second in the MVC in total hits (44) and ranks 70th among all Division I players with a .383 average; the St. Louis native batted .480 over the course of his career-best 11-game hit streak (March 12-31)
♦Matheny's current average of 1.630 hits per game is the highest mark for any freshman in MSU history
The Bears and Tigers have evenly split the first 44 meetings of their series. MU claimed both contests last spring, pulling out a 4-3 win in 11 innings April 25 at Hammons Field, despite a valiant 6.1-inning relief effort from Grant Gordon. The Tigers also overcame a 4-0 deficit in Columbia (May 9), scoring five times in their final two at-bats to snap a 5-5 tie.
MSU is 3-5 vs. Missouri in eight previous meetings at Hammons Field and 47-74 all-time against the current membership of the Southeastern Conference.
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 19 of its first 27 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 4-1 start with the best ERA in the MVC (0.73) through seven starts to pace a staff that has recorded a 2.76 team ERA through 27 games. Freshman right-hander Jon Harris has made a significant impact as well over his first six collegiate starts, claiming wins in each while posting a 1.77 ERA. Sophomore NCBWA National Stopper of the Year candidate Tyler Burgess has been strong out of the bullpen for MSU, logging three wins and 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 .292 batting mark ranks third 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 (.383), slugging percentage (.530), on-base percentage (.438), hits (44), home runs (3) and total bases (61). Senior shortstop Travis McComack has been hot at the plate lately, reaching base safely in each of his last 15 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 17 RBIs and 10 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 .297 batting average after a career day March 31 in which he went 4-for-4 and reached base safely in all six trips to the plate. Finally, junior first baseman Conor Smith has clubbed a pair of homers, slugging .446 to rank second on a squad that has posted a .268 team batting mark through 24 games.
About the Tigers
Missouri brings an 11-17 overall record into Tuesday's contest, the first of two games to be played by the Bears and Tigers in 2013. Head coach Tim Jamieson's club boasts one of the top pitching staffs in the SEC, with a 2.96 team ERA over its last 22 contests. MU's projected starting pitcher for Tuesday's contest -- sophomore right-hander Jace James -- has been a key figure in the Tigers' mound success, turning in a 2-1 mark with a team-best 1.76 ERA over nine appearances. He's held the opposition to a .226 batting average and logged 30.2 innings, both of which rank third on the squad.
Junior lefty Jake Walsh has also been strong for MU out of the bullpen, working a team-high 15 appearances while posting a 2.16 ERA. Additionally, two-way threat Keaton Steele has a club-leading three wins to go along with a 2.43 ERA. The reigning SEC Player of the Week, Steele has also excelled at the dish, hitting .308 with 12 RBIs to date. Junior catcher Dylan Kelly leads the Tigers with a .347 batting mark and 17 runs batted-in, while senior outfielder Dane Opel (.330 BA) has driven in 15 runs and clubbed two of MU's five homers this season.
T-Shirt Trade Up Returns
For the second straight year the Missouri State Bears' matchup with Missouri will provide Bears fans the opportunity to upgrade their wardrobes. MSU's "T-Shirt Trade Up" will give the first 100 fans who turn in a shirt bearing the name or marks of any university to the BearWear trailer outside of the main gate at Hammons Field the chance to receive a free Missouri State t-shirt, courtesy of the MSU Bookstore.
In conjunction with the Missouri State Student Government Association, the bookstore will donate all traded t-shirts to the Convoy of Hope, a faith-based organization that has served more than 55 million people throughout the world through international children's feeding initiatives, community outreaches, disaster response and partner resourcing. Additionally, a limited number of BearWear t-shirts will be available for $5 to those fans not among the first 100 to trade up their shirts.
McComack Makes His Move
Senior shortstop Travis McComack has reached base in 15 straight games for the Bears, a season-high for a Missouri State player and just two games shy of his personal best string of 17 consecutive games reaching safely. McComack has hit .316 and posted a .406 on-base percentage over the course of his streak.
Bears Bats Look to Rebound
Just one week after posting its best offensive stretch of the season, Missouri State's offense was held to just three total hits over the first two games of its series at Illinois State. The Bears managed just one hit on Friday against ISU's Chris Razo, then recorded just two safeties the following day versus Redbird starter Dan Savas. The three hits represent an all-time low for the Bears in consecutive games in Valley play. Their previous two-game low came in a doubleheader at Creighton April 21, 1991, when they were held to seven hits by the Bluejays.
Missouri State has received a boost from its talented freshman class throughout the first eight weeks of the season, especially over the course of its season-best five-game win streak (March 19-31). Bears freshman have either driven in the game-winning run or posted a mound victory in each of MSU's last seven wins dating back to a March 16 decision over Western Illinois. Tate Matheny batted a combined .500 (14-for-28) in the six games as part of his own personal-best 11-game hit streak (March 12-31), over which he hit .480 (24-for-50). The St. Louis native recorded the first two game-winning RBIs of his MSU career in the Bears' sweep of Indiana State, then blasted his club-leading third home run of the season on the very first pitch of MSU's game at Illinois State to set the tone in an eventual 8-3 Bears win.
On the mound, left-hander Matt Hall has accounted for three wins in the last seven Missouri State victories. Additionally, right-hander Jon Harris continued his fast start with his sixth-straight win to begin his MSU career in Sunday's victory over ISU. Along with a third MSU freshman hurler, lefty Andy Cheray, the duo has combined to post six of MSU's last seven wins and went 4-0 with a 0.47 ERA over the Bears' five-game win streak.