Bears Set to Begin Road Swing Wednesday Night at Missouri
Travis McComack
Travis McComack

April 23, 2013

Missouri State Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Missouri State Bears (24-11) at Missouri Tigers (13-22)
Wednesday, April 24
First Pitch: 6 p.m.
Location: Columbia, Mo.
Site: Taylor Stadium (3,031)
Series History: Missouri leads 23-22 (MU has won three straight)
Radio: KBFL 1060 AM (Art Hains, Terry Clayton)
Live Audio and Video: Bears All-Access
Twitter: @MSUBearBaseball

Leading Off
The Missouri State Bears will kick off a five-game road swing Wednesday (April 24) when they take on the Missouri Tigers in a 6 p.m. contest at Taylor Stadium in Columbia. MSU will be looking for its fourth-straight victory after completing a Missouri Valley Conference series sweep of Bradley over the weekend.

Missouri State, which saw its Tuesday game at Saint Louis wiped away due to weather, received complete performances in its sweep of Bradley, as the Bears pitching staff limited the Valley's top-hitting club to just four earned runs in the three games, while the MSU offense pounded out 31 hits in out-scoring the Braves by a 23-6 margin. As a result, the Bears moved into a tie with Wichita State for the top spot in the MVC standings with their sixth win in their last seven conference games.

Missouri, which brings a 13-22 overall mark into the week, salvaged the final game of its SEC series with Florida on Sunday after dropping the first two games to the Gators in Columbia.

MSU will continue its road trek Friday (April 26) when it travels to Evansville for a three-game MVC set against the Purple Aces before wrapping up the road trip with a Tuesday (April 30) game versus nationally-ranked Arkansas in Fayetteville.

Prime 9
♦Missouri holds a 23-22 edge in the series with the Bears and has won three straight meetings; MSU has taken six of the last eight games played by the two clubs in Columbia, however
♦RHP Grant Gordon has a career ERA of 0.96 in 9.1 innings over three career appearances vs. Missouri
♦In each of the Bears' last 12 wins, a freshman has recorded either a game-winning RBI or a pitching victory
♦SS Travis McComack moved up to fourth on the Bears' all-time fielding assists list over the weekend
♦Freshman RHP Jon Harris ranks sixth in all of Division I baseball with eight victories
♦With OF Keenen Maddox's first four-hit game as a Bear Saturday vs. Bradley, six different MSU players have recorded four hits in the Bears' last 15 contests dating back to March 27
♦C Luke Voit has reached base safely in 15 straight games and in 29 of his last 30 contests overall
♦Tyler Burgess claimed the third spot on the Bears' all-time saves list with the 14th of his MSU career Saturday
♦OF Tate Matheny's average of 1.629 hits per game is the highest mark for any freshman in MSU history

Series History
The Tigers gained the upper hand in the series with their 5-4 win in Springfield (April 9) -- their third straight over the Bears. MU, which holds a 23-22 all-time advantage over MSU, overcame a 4-0 deficit in the two clubs' last meeting in Columbia (May 9, 2012), scoring five times in their final two at-bats to snap a 5-5 tie.

MSU is 10-14 vs. Missouri on its home field, but has claimed six of the last eight meetings at Taylor Stadium since 2002. The Bears are 47-75 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 21 of its first 32 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 5-1 start with the best ERA in the MVC (1.12) through eight starts to pace a staff that has recorded a 3.15 team ERA. Freshman right-hander Jon Harris has made a significant impact as well over his first seven collegiate starts, claiming wins in each while posting a 2.68 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 five steals lead MSU, while his .298 batting mark ranks second and his 19 RBIs are third on the squad. Freshman outfielder Tate Matheny has been nothing short of outstanding in his first season of collegiate action, ranking among the Valley's top 10 in hitting (.355), slugging percentage (.500), hits (49), home runs (3) and total bases (69). Senior shortstop Travis McComack has been hot at the plate lately, reaching base safely in 19 of his last 20 games while driving in the game-winning RBI in four contests this year. Senior DH Koby Peebles has been one of the Bears' most consistent contributors, registering 22 RBIs and 10 doubles so far. Senior outfielder Keenen Maddox has been the Bears' hottest hitter of late, batting .529 last week and bringing an active streak of six consecutive multi-hit games into Wednesday's action. Finally, sophomore infielder Eric Cheray ranks among the Valley's leaders in walks and paces the Bears with a .430 on-base percentage to go along with a .294 batting mark.

About the Tigers
Missouri brings a 13-22 overall record into Wednesday's contest, including a 5-4 win over the Bears in Springfield on April 9. Head coach Tim Jamieson's club relies on a pitching staff that has posted a 4.24 team ERA through its first 35 contests. Friday starter Rob Zastryzny has just two wins on the year, but paces the staff with 53 strikeouts over 59.2 innings, logging a 4.22 ERA in the process. Sophomore right-hander Jace James bested the Bears in Springfield last week and has been a key figure in the Tigers' mound success, turning in a 3-1 mark with a team-best 2.17 ERA over 13 appearances. He's held the opposition to a team-leading .241 batting average and logged 37.1 innings, which ranks fourth on the squad. Junior lefty Jake Walsh has also been strong for MU out of the bullpen, working a team-high 21 appearances while posting a 3.38 ERA. Additionally, two-way threat Keaton Steele has a club-leading three wins and 42 strikeouts on the mound while hitting .278 with 16 RBIs to date. Junior catcher Dylan Kelly leads the Tigers with a .328 batting mark while driving in 20 runs, and senior outfielder Dane Opel (.320 BA) brings team highs of three homers and 21 RBIs into Wednesday's game.

Voit Joins 200-Hit Club
Senior catcher Luke Voit became just the 20th Missouri State player to join the exclusive 200-hit club with his 1-for-4 performance vs. Oklahoma State on April 16. Voit, who recorded hits in each of the Bears' three wins over the weekend, moved past Mark Garrett and Chad Lakin into the No. 18 spot on MSU's career hits list with 203.

Voit's movement up the chart has been fueled by a string of 15 straight games reaching base safely. Furthermore, the Wildwood, Mo., product has reached via a hit, walk or hit by pitch in 29 of his last 30 games dating back to Feb. 24.

Petree Reaches Quarter-Century Mark
Junior right-hander Nick Petree, notched his 25th win as a Bear in Missouri State's 5-2 win over Bradley on Friday. Petree moved into a tie for second place on MSU's all-time wins list, matching Kirby Cannon's (1977-80) four-year career total. Brad Ziegler (2000-03) heads the list with 32 victories.

Petree also moved up to second on the Bears' career top 10 list for strikeouts (264) and sits in fourth on MSU's career innings pitched chart (274.1). Ziegler heads the career K's list as well with 330 for his Bears career.

Maddox Keeps Mashing
Keenen Maddox has continued to swing a hot bat for Missouri State, keying the Bears' 12-2 win over Bradley on Saturday with a career-best 4-for-5 effort at the plate. The senior drove in three runs to match a season high and finished the week with a .412 batting mark in four games after running his streak of consecutive multi-hit games to six in a row. That figure represented the longest such streak for a Bear since the 2010 season, when Kevin Medrano accomplished the feat. Since March 13, Maddox has hit .381 and slugged .488 to pace an MSU offense that has batted .292.

Red-Hot Rookies
Missouri State has received a boost from its talented freshman class throughout the first half of the season, especially since the start of Missouri Valley Conference play. Bears freshmen have either driven in the game-winning run or posted a mound victory in each of MSU's last 12 wins dating back to March 16, including each of MSU's nine Valley wins in 2013. In particular, Tate Matheny has accounted for five game-winning RBIs in conference play, while Jon Harris is a perfect 4-0 on the mound in MVC play.

Harris Stays Hot
Freshman right-hander Jon Harris kept his perfect Missouri State record intact last Saturday with his eighth win in as many starts for the Bears, who topped Bradley by a 12-2 score en route to a three-game sweep. The Florissant, Mo., product held the Braves to just two unearned runs on three hits over seven innings to become the first Bears freshman hurler to go 8-0 in eight starts. Harris, who ranks sixth in the nation in wins entering the week, has completed at least six innings in every start this season.



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