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Missouri State Set to Begin MVC Series With Wichita State Friday
 
Kevin Medrano
 
Kevin Medrano
 

April 19, 2012

Missouri State Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Missouri State Bears (27-11, 6-2 MVC) at Wichita State Shockers (23-17, 5-4 MVC)
Dates (Times):
Friday, April 20 (6:37 p.m.)
Saturday, April 21 (2 p.m.)
Sunday, April 22 (1 p.m.)
Location: Wichita, Kan.
Site: Eck Stadium (7,851)
TV: None
Radio: KBFL 1060 AM (Art Hains, Terry Clayton)
Live Audio and Video: GoShockers.com
Live Stats: MissouriStateBears.com

Leading Off
After going 3-1 at home last week, the Missouri State Bears (27-11, 6-2 MVC) return to the road for a three-game Missouri Valley Conference series with the Wichita State Shockers (23-17, 5-4 MVC) this weekend at Eck Stadium.

The league-leading Bears swept a weather-shortened two-game set from Illinois State last weekend, before seeing their 11-game home win streak come to an end with a 1-0 setback to Saint Louis on Tuesday. Wichita State is coming off back-to-back wins over Oklahoma State and Evansville after dropping the first two games of its MVC series with the Purple Aces last weekend in Evansville.

Prime 9
♦ Wichita State is 58-32 all-time against the Bears, including a 37-10 mark on its home field
♦ Missouri State is 10-6 with a 2.04 ERA in 16 road games this season
♦ MSU paces the MVC in total strikeouts and team ERA, ranking fourth in the nation in the latter category
♦ Freshman LHP Tyler Burgess was named to the NCBWA's Stopper of the Year Award watch list on Thursday after moving to the top of the Bears' freshman saves chart last weekend with his eighth of the season
♦ Senior 1B Brock Chaffin is hitting a team-high .462 (12-for-26) in the month of April
♦ Senior 2B Kevin Medrano has hit .486 and clubbed three of his seven homers as a Bear in 10 career games against the Shockers; Medrano has three multi-hit performances in his last six road contests
♦ Junior OF/DH Keenen Maddox has hits in each of his last 10 games on the road, compiling a .412 (14-for-34) batting average
♦ Sophomore RHP Nick Petree leads the MVC and ranks seventh nationally in both victories and ERA; Petree has not allowed an earned run since March 2, a string of 43.1-consecutive innings over seven starts
♦ MSU has out-scored its MVC foes 55-19 in conference play, hitting .333 while posting a team 1.46 ERA; Senior 3B Brent Seifert has been the Bears' top hitter in MVC play, going 13-for-31 (.419)

Wichita State Series
Friday's opener will mark the 91st meeting in the series, with Wichita State holding a commanding 58-32 edge. Last year, the Bears took two of three from the Shockers in Springfield, sandwiching wins of 8-6 and 8-7 around a 3-1 loss. WSU has had a clear advantage on its home field over the years, claiming wins in seven of the last eight meetings at Eck Stadium and in 37 of the 47 games played overall in Wichita in the series.

The Bears will look to senior second baseman Kevin Medrano to continue an offensive hot streak in the series. Medrano has posted a .486 career average with three of his seven home runs as a Bear in 10 previous games against the Shockers.

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 saw his career-best 11-game hit streak come to an end Tuesday, but still brings a team-high .330 batting mark into the series after hitting .412 on the road since March 2. Senior outfielder Spiker Helms (.311, 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 (.316, 31-RBI) has 13 multi-hit games and at least one RBI in 21 contests, while junior catcher Luke Voit (.312, 4-HR, 29-RBI) has a team-high five game-winning RBIs and 16 for his MSU career to rank ninth all-time. Senior second baseman Kevin Medrano (.298, 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 (.300, 5-HR, 32-RBI) shares the club lead in homers and RBIs and has reached base safely in 35 of the Bears' 38 games. Finally, sophomore outfielder Trey Massenberg (.289, 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 15 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, 1.21, 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 Shockers
Wichita State enters the series with a 23-17 overall mark and a 5-4 record in MVC play, which is good for a third-place tie in the league standings. Now in his 35th season at the helm of the Shockers program, head coach Gene Stephenson welcomed back 19 letterwinners from last year's 39-26 squad that finished fourth in the Valley. Leading a balanced Shocker offense has been junior first baseman/designated hitter Johnny Coy (.331), who leads the MVC and ranks 10th nationally with 43 RBIs. Coy also paces WSU in hits, runs scored, doubles and slugging percentage. Freshman outfielder Taylor Doggett (.323) has turned in a solid debut campaign, bringing the Shockers' second-best batting mark, as well as 14 stolen bases into the weekend. Doggett, along with senior outfielders Don Lambert (.315, 13 SB) and Kevin Hall (.265, 16 SB), power WSU's potent running attack that leads the Valley and ranks 25th in all of Division I baseball with 66 stolen bases. Sophomore second baseman Dayne Parker (.321) and freshman first baseman Casey Gillaspie (.279, 27 RBI) give the Shockers added punch, with Gillaspie's eight homers ranking second in the conference.

On the mound, WSU brings a 3.46 team ERA into the series, thanks in large part to a deep bullpen led by sophomore right-handers Foster Vielock (0-1, 1.35 ERA, 1 save) and Cale Elam (3-3, 1.19 ERA, 7 saves). The weekend rotation is anchored by senior lefty Josh Smith (4-2, 2.87 ERA), who ranks among the MVC's leaders with 59 strikeouts in 59.2 innings pitched.

Home Cookin'
Missouri State finished off a 3-1 homestand with Tuesday's 1-0 setback to Saint Louis that snapped the Bears' 11-game Hammons Field win streak. 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 14-3 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 pitchers have posted a 2.25 team ERA and held the opposition to a .217 average.

Road Warriors
The Bears have held their own away from their home park as well through the first nine weeks of the season, posting 10 wins in 16 true road games. MSU made the most of its season-opening 12-game road swing, winning nine games--including six true road tilts. By contrast, it took the 2011 MSU squad until its 27th game on April 5 at Kansas to claim its sixth road win, and the 2010 Bears only won six road contests all season long.

The school record for single-season road wins is 20, established by the 2003 squad, and MSU's streak of six consecutive road wins (Feb. 19-March 4) represented its longest since May 2009.

Bear Watching
Freshman pitcher Tyler Burgess was one of 45 players named to the midseason watch list for the eighth annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award, given to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I baseball, as announced by the association Thursday.

Burgess's nomination gives the Bears their second addition to one of the NCBWA's 2012 awards watch lists, as catcher Luke Voit was named to the organization's Johnny Bench Award Watch List in March. Additionally, Burgess becomes the second MSU closer in as many years to be cited for the Stopper of the Year watch list following Dan Kickham's selection a year ago.

Burgess, who leads the Missouri Valley Conference with eight saves on the season, was one of just three Division I freshman selected for the list. The Webb City, Mo., product has already claimed the Missouri State freshman saves record and needs just one more save to climb into a tie with Chris Krawczyk (2006) for third on the Bears' single-season chart. Burgess brings a 3-0 record and 1.21 ERA over 14 outings into play this weekend, after becoming the first MSU pitcher on record to register either a win or save in his first seven outings as a Bear.

Voit was one of 43 Division I catchers named to the initial Johnny Bench Award watch list on March 7. Additional nominations for the award, which honors the top Division I player who serves as a team's starting catcher in at least 75% of its games, will be considered until May 7, with semifinalists announced on May 16, and finalists revealed on June 4. The award will be presented June 28, in Wichita.

Voit currently leads the Bears in hits (48) and ranks eighth in the conference. The 2011 All-MVC second-teamer is also third on the team with six stolen bases and has a .986 fielding percentage while throwing out nearly 45 percent of all would-be base-stealers on the season.

 

 

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