Bears Close Homestand Against Saint Louis Tuesday
 
Brock Chaffin
 
Brock Chaffin
 

April 16, 2012

Missouri State Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Missouri State Bears (27-10) vs. Saint Louis Billikens (24-11)
Dates/Times:
Tuesday, April 17
First Pitch: 6:30 p.m.
Location: Springfield, Mo.
Site: Hammons Field (8,000)
TV: None
Radio: KBFL 1060 AM (Art Hains, Terry Clayton)
Live Audio and Video: Bears All-Access
Live Stats: MissouriStateBears.com

Leading Off
After going 3-0 last week to run their home win streak to 11 games, the Missouri State Bears (27-10) will close out a five-game homestand with a non-conference matchup Tuesday against the Saint Louis Billikens (24-11) at Hammons Field. Missouri State, which has not dropped a home game since a March 13 loss to nationally-ranked Purdue, shut out Kansas State on Wednesday, then swept Illinois State in a weather-shortened two-game series over the weekend.

Saint Louis enters Tuesday's game having won three of its last four games. The Billikens took two of three games from Xavier over the weekend.

Prime 9
♦ The Bears hold a commanding 43-11 advantage in their series with Saint Louis, including a 4-2 mark vs. the Billikens at Hammons Field
♦ Missouri State is 24-0 this season when leading after six innings
♦ MSU paces the MVC in total strikeouts and team ERA, ranking fourth in the nation in the latter category
♦ The Bears have won a Hammons Field record 11 straight home games--the fourth-longest home win streak in all of Division I baseball--and are 14-2 overall at home in 2012
♦ Junior OF/DH Keenen Maddox is hitting .419 (18-for-43) over the course of a career-best 11-game hit streak
♦ Senior OF Spiker Helms leads the MVC in doubles (17) and is hitting .541 (20-for-37) with runners in scoring position this season
♦ Senior 3B Brent Seifert leads MSU with a .377 (23-for-61) batting average in 16 home games this season
♦ Sophomore RHP Jake Powers has posted back-to-back nine-strikeout performances to match his career high in victories over Arkansas State (April 4) and Kansas State (April 11)
♦ Freshman LHP Tyler Burgess set the Missouri State freshman saves record Saturday vs. Illinois State, working a career-long 3.1 innings to secure a 10-4 victory and his eighth save of the season

Saint Louis Series
The Bears hold a commanding 43-11 lead in the series with the Billikens, including a 38-9 mark under head coach Keith Guttin. Additionally, the Bears have won four of the previous six games played by the two schools at Hammons Field.

Last year, the Bears won two of the three games played by the two clubs, including a 13-11 win at Hammons Field, in which Brent Seifert went 5-for-5 to lead MSU's 17-hit attack. All three meetings last year were decided by two runs or less, with the two teams combining to pound out 79 hits.

About the Bears
Following a disappointing end to an otherwise memorable bounceback 2011 season, Missouri State entered the new year as the preseason choice to capture the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title for the fourth time in the last 12 seasons under 30th-year head coach Keith Guttin.

After a rough start to opening weekend in Lubbock, Texas, the Bears rebounded to win 20 of their next 24 games to post their best start to a season in a decade. Junior outfielder Keenen Maddox brings a career-best 11-game hit streak and a team-high .345 batting mark into the series after hitting .438 with a pair of homers and eight runs batted in over his last eight games. Senior outfielder Spiker Helms (.315, 5-HR, 32-RBI) ranks among the MVC's top 10 performers in a number of different offensive categories, including a league-leading 17 doubles. Fellow senior Brock Chaffin (.311, 31-RBI) has 13 multi-hit games and at least one RBI in 21 contests, while junior catcher Luke Voit (.313, 4-HR, 29-RBI) has a team-high five game-winning RBIs and is hitting .373 at home this season. Senior second baseman Kevin Medrano (.307, 13-2B, 8-SB) has been hot at the plate lately after a sluggish start to move into the school's top five for career hits. Senior third baseman Brent Seifert (.309, 5-HR, 32-RBI) shares the club lead in homers and RBIs and has reached base safely in 35 of the Bears' 37 games. Finally, sophomore outfielder Trey Massenberg (.299, 2-HR, 13-RBI, 5-3B) has blossomed in his second season as a Bear. He has an MVC-leading five triples and has scored 14 times over MSU's last 14 contests.

The Bears' top three starting pitchers have been strong through the first nine weeks of the season, combining to strike out 184 batters through 172.2 innings of work, despite a pair of key injuries. Nick Petree (7-2, 0.84), who went 9-2 with a 2.81 ERA to garner Freshman All-America honors last spring, has won seven of his last eight decisions and leads the MVC in both wins and ERA. Junior right-hander Pierce Johnson (2-3, 2.01) has been dominant over his first seven starts of the season, bringing the nation's 10th-highest strikeout total into the week. However, forearm tightness plagued Johnson in his last start at Dallas Baptist and forced him to skip his last two Friday starts. Junior righty Clay Murphy (5-1, 1.37, 1 save) ranked among the MVC's leaders in a number of categories before an elbow injury ended his season prematurely in early April. Finally, the Bears' bullpen has been nearly as dominant as the rotation, fashioning a string of 18 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings over nine outings (March 13-25), and a 0.53 ERA over a 17-game span (Feb. 29-March 25). Freshman lefty Tyler Burgess (3-0, 1.25, 8 saves) has been sensational in his MSU debut to lead the group, notching a victory or a save in each of his first seven appearances as a Bear without allowing an earned run. Last week, Burgess posted his seventh and eighth saves of the season to climb to the top of the Missouri State freshman saves list.

About the Billikens
Saint Louis enters Tuesday's game with a 24-11 mark following a 29-26 season a year ago. Fifth-year head coach Darin Hendrickson's club reeled off 13-straight victories in March thanks to strong team performances both at the plate and on the mound. Leading the SLU offense has been the trio of Steve Fernanadez (.377, 2-HR, 31-RBI), Marco DiRoma (.343, 15-RBI, 10-SB) and Alex Kelly (.351, 3-HR, 25-RBI). Newcomers Grant Nelson (.308) and Mike Vigliarolo (.284) have also played key roles for the Billikens, combining for 43 RBIs to date.

The Billikens have gotten the job done on the mound as well and enter the week with a 3.27 team ERA. Alex Alemann (5-0, 2.29) has been the go-to arm for SLU, while Clay Smith (4-2, 2.24) has been just as effective as a weekend starter. Travis Parker (2-1, 0.00, 4 saves) has yet to allow an earned run in 23.1 innings over 15 appearances to lead the relief corps.

Home Cookin'
Missouri State's 3-0 week extended its home win streak to 11 games to establish a new Hammons Field record for consecutive wins. MSU posted 10-straight home wins on two previous occasions since moving into the facility in 2004, with the most recent streak occurring April 11-May 11, 2008. The Bears, who are 14-2 at home this season, are within striking distance of their best home mark at Hammons Field. MSU went 21-5 at home in 2008 to set the gold standard at Hammons, now in its ninth season as home of the Bears. MSU is hitting .293 as a team at home, while Bears pitchers have posted a 2.33 team ERA and held the opposition to a .219 average.

Poll Position
Missouri State made its second regular-season appearance of 2012 in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Divison I poll on Monday, coming in at No. 29.

Riding the crest of their longest win streak since 2009, the Bears secured their first regular-season top 30 rankings in nearly three years March 26, when they were tabbed 29th in both the Collegiate Baseball Top 30 and Perfect Game Top 50 polls. MSU also received votes in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers of America (NCBWA) Top 30 for the first time in 2012 and earned 30 votes in the USA Today/ESPN Top 25 Coaches' Poll, good for 30th among all Division I programs.

For the Bears, who were ranked 31st in Collegiate Baseball's preseason poll, the latest citations marked their first regular-season top 30 rankings since holding the No. 30 spot in the same poll the week of May 18, 2009.

On a Roll
The Bears' offense has picked up the pace over the last two weeks, posting double-digit run totals in four of Missouri State's last seven games. MSU has hit .341 as a team and averaged 7.9 runs and 12 hits per game over the stretch. Additionally, the Bears registered their first 20-hit effort in three years Friday in a 14-4 win over Illinois State. Brock Chaffin has led the way for MSU, hitting .500 (11-for-22), while Spiker Helms has driven in 10 runs and posted two of the Bears' three home runs over the seven-game stretch.

Double Trouble
Spiker Helms has kept the pressure on opposing pitchers with a Missouri Valley Conference-leading 17 doubles so far this season.

Helms, who recorded just six two-base hits all of last year, is currently just three doubles away from cracking the Missouri State single-season top 10 list, and just nine shy of the school record, held by Steve Meyer with 26 (1986).

The Washington, Mo., product's total for the year ranked seventh among all Division I players through Sunday's games. Additionally, Helms rated among the nation's leaders in walks (42nd) and runs scored (69th) coming into the week.

 

 

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