April 10, 2014
Missouri State Game Notes
Missouri State Bears (13-16, 3-3 MVC) at Bradley Braves (17-11, 3-6 MVC)
Dates/Game Times: Friday, April 11 - Noon
Saturday, April 12 - 6 p.m.
Sunday, April 13 - 5 p.m.
Location: Peoria, Ill.
Site: Dozer Park (7,500)
Series History: MSU leads 53-33
Radio: KBFL 1060 AM (Art Hains)
Live Audio: RadioSpringfield.com
Live Video: BradleyBraves.com
After taking a break from conference play last weekend, the Missouri State Bears (13-16, 3-3 MVC) return to MVC action this week when they travel to Peoria, Ill., to take on the Bradley Braves (17-11, 3-6 MVC). The Bears and Braves kick off their three-game set beginning with a noon contest Friday (April 11) at Dozer Park, before meeting again Saturday at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m.
MSU is coming off back-to-back non-conference losses, including a 9-4 setback at Missouri on Tuesday. The Bears have still won five of their last nine contests since snapping a nine-game slide March 23, while BU has dropped six of its last 10 games. The Braves did capture their Valley series with Southern Illinois last weekend, claiming two of the three contests in Carbondale.
Up next for the Bears will be game two of their home-and-home season series with Mizzou Tuesday (April 15) evening at Hammons Field. The game, which is scheduled for a 6:35 p.m. start, will be televised live on Mediacom (MC-22) in southwest Missouri.
♦ Missouri State holds a 53-33 advantage over Bradley dating back the two clubs' first meeting in 1982; BU has won 19 of the previous 37 meetings on its home turf, including five of the last six games played in Peoria since 2010
♦ MSU has fielded at a .987 clip as a team over its last four games, handling 150 of 152 defensive chances cleanly
♦ The Bears are 10-0 when scoring at least six runs this season, but just 3-16 when totaling five runs or less
♦ Eric Cheray is hitting .455 (10-for-22) with seven walks--good for a .567 on-base percentage--as well as three steals and eight runs scored over his current seven-game hit streak
♦ With 84 career walks entering the weekend, Cheray needs just three more bases on balls to catch Ryan Howard in the No. 10 spot on the Bears' all-time chart
♦ Tyler Burgess ranks second among all active Division I pitchers on the NCAA's career list for fewest hits allowed per nine innings (5.67), trailing only UCLA's James Kaprielian (5.31); Burgess also ranks 47th on the NCAA's active ERA chart (2.35)
♦ MSU's projected weekend rotation of Cody Schumacher, Jon Harris and Clay Murphy has combined to post a 2-0 mound mark and 0.83 ERA in 21.2 innings spanning four career appearances vs. Bradley
♦ Murphy is expected to make his first Valley start in over two years Sunday on the same mound from which he made his last on April 7, 2012--a 12-2 win over the Braves at Dozer Park, then known as O'Brien Field
♦ Tate Matheny brings a .615 career batting mark vs. BU into the series after battering the Braves by going 8-for-13 with five runs scored in the Bears' three-game sweep last April in Springfield
Missouri State holds a commanding lead over the Braves in the two clubs all-time series, bringing a 53-33 record against BU into this year's match-up. The Bears have won four straight in the series, thanks to a three-game sweep last year in Springfield. MSU battered BU pitching, hitting .313 as a club and outscoring the Braves by a 23-6 margin in the series. The Bears got the job done on the mound as well, limiting the Braves to a collective .219 batting average and just four earned runs for the weekend.
Bradley has enjoyed more than its fair share of success at home against the Bears in recent years, with wins in five of the last six games played in Peoria. BU, which is 19-18 at home vs. MSU since 1992, took two of three from the Bears in 2012 after sweeping the two clubs' 2010 three-game Valley set.
Feeling The Braves
Missouri State has turned in some of its best offensive work of the last two seasons against Bradley. The Bears have outscored the Braves by a 53-27 margin in the eight games staged between the two clubs, hitting a combined .321 (94-for-293) overall.
As a result, several Bears have put up career numbers versus the Braves, led by Tate Matheny's 8-for-13 (.615) onslaught in MSU's three-game sweep last April at Hammons Field. Dylan Becker, a career .667 hitters against BU, came off the bench in game two of last year's series to record hits in three consecutive at-bats, including a game-ending grand slam in the bottom of the eighth that sealed the Bears' 12-2 victory. Additionally, Eric Cheray has hit .320 and scored six times in his eight career games vs. Bradley.
MSU's pitching staff has carried its share of the load against BU as well, posting a combined ERA of 1.75 over 72.0 innings. Furthermore, Bears hurlers have recorded an impressive strikeout-to-walk ratio of 60 to 11 over the last two seasons. The Bears' Saturday and Sunday starters, Jon Harris and Clay Murphy, are a combined 2-0 and have yet to surrender an earned run over 15.2 combined innings in their careers vs. the Braves.
Moving On Up
Several Bears have been steadily ascending MSU career charts this season. On the mound, senior Cody Schumacher rates fifth in career earned run average (2.96) and eighth in career win percentage (.824), while junior reliever Tyler Burgess already ranks third on MSU's all-time saves list with 14--just four shy of Matt Frevert's school record. The lefty is also on the cusp of cracking the top 10 for career mound appearances with 56 over his three-year career. He needs just two more to catch Matt Gilmer and Mike Whitley, who are currently tied for the No. 9 spot on the chart.
Additionally, Eric Cheray enters the weekend with 23 sacrifice bunts for his MSU career, good for second on the Bears' career list, only five behind Kevin Medrano in the top spot. Joey Hawkins is right on Cheray's tail with 20 SACs in his three-year career. Cheray also has 84 career walks, which is just three away from Ryan Howard in the 10th spot on the Bears' all-time list, as well as 378 defensive assists, good for eighth all-time at MSU. Also on the defensive side, senior first baseman Conor Smith's career fielding percentage of .989 is the sixth-best all-time among players with at least 150 defensive chances for the Bears.
Hooray For Cheray
Junior second baseman Eric Cheray enters the weekend swinging the Bears' hottest bat with at least one hit in each of his last seven games. Cheray, who logged a hit in five consecutive official at-bats, as well as a streak of reaching base safely in nine-consecutive plate appearances, needs a hit Friday to match his longest hit streak as a Bear, which occurred Feb. 21-March 7 of this season, which included 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. In all, the Topeka, Kan., product hit .548 (17-for-31) over his eight-game hit streak.