April 24, 2014
Missouri State Game Notes
Missouri State Bears (18-19) at UT Martin Skyhawks (5-33)
Dates/Times: Friday, April 25 - 6 p.m.
Saturday, April 26 - 3 p.m.
Sunday, April 27 - 1 p.m.
Location: Martin, Tenn.
Site: Skyhawk Field (500)
Series History: MSU leads 5-1
Radio: KBFL 1060 AM (Art Hains)
Live Audio: RadioSpringfield.com
Live Video (Friday): OVC Digital Network
The Missouri State Bears (18-19) continue a four-game road swing with a three-game non-conference series against the UT Martin Skyhawks (5-33) this weekend in Martin, Tenn. The Bears and Skyhawks will open the series with a 6 p.m. contest Friday (April 25), followed by a 3 p.m game Saturday and a 1 p.m. tilt Sunday at Skyhawk Field.
MSU stopped a two-game slide Wednesday evening against Kansas, rallying for three runs in the ninth inning to overcome a late deficit for a 6-5 victory. The Bears enter the weekend with wins in three of their last four road games, including two straight. UT Martin has won two consecutive home games, including a 9-2 victory over Saint Louis on Tuesday.
Up next, the Bears take a break from the road with a Tuesday (April 29) match-up against Arkansas at Hammons Field.
♦ Missouri State holds a 5-1 edge in the series vs. UT Martin; the two clubs have not faced each other since the Bears took two of three games from the Skyhawks at Meador Park in February 1994
♦ The Bears are 123-77 all-time against Ohio Valley Conference clubs; this weekend will mark MSU's first three-game road series vs. an OVC team since 2004 when it dropped two of three games at SEMO
♦ Eric Cheray moved into sole possession of the No. 9 spot on the Bears' career walks list Wednesday at Kansas; he needs two more to match Kevin Medrano and Nick Kays in the seventh position on the chart with 91 walks
♦ Bears head coach Keith Guttin surpassed Hawaii's Les Murakami for the No. 37 spot on the NCAA Division I career coaching wins list with last Friday's 4-2 victory over Illinois State; MSU's 32nd year bench boss ranks 13th on the NCAA's active wins list
♦ The Bears rank 40th nationally and lead the MVC with a .974 team fielding percentage, which would establish a school single-season record for defensive excellence for the third consecutive season if the campaign ended today
♦ MSU has won three of its last four road games, totaling at least 10 hits in each outing
♦ MSU's pitching staff has logged an MVC-best four shutouts this season, good for 42nd among all Division I programs in 2014
♦ The Bears are 14-0 when scoring at least six runs this season, but just 4-19 when totaling five runs or less
♦ Tate Matheny brings a nine-game hit streak into this weekend's action; with a hit Friday, Matheny would have his fifth hit streak of at least 10 games in just his 89th career game
Missouri State has won five of its previous six meetings with UT Martin, including all three games played in Martin in February 1993. The Bears also won two of three from the Skyhawks in their last series at Meador Park in 1994.
The Bears have enjoyed their fair share of success against the Ohio Valley Conference, bringing a 123-77 cumulative mark against the current membership of the league into this weekend's action. MSU dropped a 6-5 decision to SEMO (March 11) in their only other meeting with an OVC squad this season.
Watch the Leather, Man
For the third consecutive season, the Bears are on pace to establish a new program standard for fielding excellence. MSU's current team fielding percentage of .974 not only leads the Missouri Valley Conference, but also ranks 40th nationally. Last year, the Bears' .972 team defensive mark eclipsed the previous Missouri State record of .971, which was set in 2012. MSU's 59 team errors in 2013 represented its lowest total since the 1977 season.
The Bears played error-free baseball in their three-game series with Illinois State last weekend and enter Friday's contest having handled 179 of their last 180 defensive chances without a miscue. In fact, the Bears have gone errorless in seven of their last 10 outings and have committed no more than one error in 11 of their last 12 games, compiling a .984 team average over the same span. Individually, shortstop Joey Hawkins ranks third among all Valley defenders with 119 assists on the year, while second baseman Eric Cheray is seventh with 106. Finally, first baseman Conor Smith has fielded at a .992 clip and ranks sixth all-time at MSU with a career .990 fielding percentage.
After being outscored by a 19-1 margin in the ninth inning over their first 19 games of the season, the Bears have turned the tables on the opposition over their last 18 contests. MSU has outscored their opponents by a 9-4 margin over the same stretch, pulling out victories in their final at-bat on four different occasions.
The Bears started their string of late rallies by scoring in the final frame of each of their last two games at Wichita State, March 22-23. Thanks to Matt Dezort's go-ahead pinch single in the ninth, MSU's 4-3 victory on March 23 turned the tide for the Bears, who dropped all three games with Dallas Baptist the previous weekend after the Patriots scored in the ninth to snap scoreless ties in each contest. MSU also pulled out a 6-5 win over Southern Illinois (March 30) in 10 innings, before rallying from ninth-inning deficits to beat both Bradley (April 11) and Kansas (April 23), also by matching 6-5 scores.
Road to Success
By taking two of three games from Bradley (April 11-13), the Bears picked up their first road series win since the opening weekend of the season at UCA (Feb. 14-16). MSU also reversed a recent trend versus the Braves, as its series triumph marked the first for a road team in the series since 2008. The home club had posted a remarkable 14-1 cumulative record over the past five regular-season matchups, including three-game sweeps in four of those years. This season, the Bears' offense has peaked on the road, logging a .274 team batting average and 12 of the clubs' 20 home runs in MSU's 24 road and neutral field contests.