Bears Conclude Road Swing Tuesday Evening at No. 16 Arkansas
MSU Set to Take on Nationally-Ranked Razorbacks in 6:35 p.m. Contest
April 29, 2013
Missouri State Game Notes
Missouri State Bears (27-12) at No. 16 Arkansas Razorbacks (29-15)
Date: Tuesday, April 30
First Pitch: 6:35 p.m.
Location: Springfield, Mo.
Site: Baum Stadium (10,737)
Series History: Arkansas leads 49-22 (UA has won eight straight)
Radio: KBFL 1060 AM (Art Hains, Terry Clayton)
Live Audio and Video: RazorVision
Live Stats: ArkansasRazorbacks.com
After claiming wins in three of their four games last week, the Missouri State Bears will wrap up a five-game road swing with a Tuesday (April 30) game versus the 16th-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville. MSU will be looking to snap an eight-game skid in its series with Arkansas, while building momentum heading into the final month of the regular season.
The Bears are coming off a Missouri Valley Conference series win in Evansville over the weekend. MSU claimed a 9-5 win behind a balanced offensive attack and the pitching of Nick Petree in the opener, then bounced back from a one-run heartbreaker in game two with a 2-1 win over the Aces on Keenen Maddox's two-out homer in the eighth inning Sunday.
Arkansas has won its last four contests to counter the effects of a four-game losing streak earlier this month. The Razorbacks claimed both games of a weather-shortened SEC series against Georgia over the weekend.
Following Tuesday's contest, the Bears return to Hammons Field to open an eight-game homestand and a critical MVC series with Wichita State Friday (May 3) evening at 6:35 p.m.
♦Missouri State is just 4-5 in midweek games this season, including a 2-4 mark on Tuesdays
♦Arkansas brings a 49-22 all-time advantage vs. MSU and an eight-game series win streak into Tuesday's game
♦The Bears are 10-2 vs. left-handed starting pitchers and 19-3 when scoring five runs or more in 2013
♦C Luke Voit has reached base safely in 19 straight games and in 33 of his last 34 contests dating back to Feb. 24
♦Tuesday's expected starting pitcher, LHP Matt Hall, has combined with fellow MSU freshmen Andy Cheray and Jon Harris to post 13 of the Bears' 27 victories this season
♦OF Tate Matheny ranks among the MVC's individual leaders in six different offensive categories
♦IF Eric Cheray is 17-for-35 (.486) at the plate with 11 walks and a .617 OBP over his last 11 games
♦OF Keenen Maddox's eighth-inning homer Sunday marked the sixth time in his MSU career that he has driven in a game-winning run with a long ball
♦Maddox has hit .455 with 15 RBIs in his last 13 games, totaling at least two hits in nine of those outings
Arkansas leads the all-time series 49-22 and has won the last eight meetings. MSU's last victories came in 2006, when the Bears swept the season home-and-home series with a 4-2 win in Springfield and a 10-5 victory over the then-No. 12 Razorbacks in Fayetteville.
The Razorbacks claimed a 2-1 win in the two clubs' last meeting on April 12, 2011 in Springfield. Arkansas also earned a one-run win vs. the Bears in their last trip to Baum Stadium, a 5-4 decision on April 28, 2010.
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 27 of its first 39 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 7-1 start with the second-best ERA in the MVC (1.52) through 10 starts to pace a staff that has recorded a 2.88 team ERA. Freshman right-hander Jon Harris has made a significant impact in his first collegiate season, claiming wins in each of his first eight starts while posting a 2.21 ERA. Sophomore NCBWA National Stopper of the Year candidate Tyler Burgess has been strong out of the bullpen for MSU, logging three wins and three saves thus far after earning Freshman All-America 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 seven steals lead MSU, while his .281 batting mark and 22 RBIs rank fourth 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 (.363), slugging percentage (.500), runs scored (32), hits (61), home runs (4) and total bases (84). Senior shortstop Travis McComack has been hot at the plate lately, reaching base safely in 25 of his last 27 games while driving in the game-winning RBI in five contests this year. Senior DH Koby Peebles has been one of the Bears' most consistent contributors, registering 25 RBIs and 11 doubles so far. Senior outfielder Keenen Maddox has been the Bears' hottest hitter of late, batting .455 with 15 RBIs over MSU's last 13 games. Finally, sophomore infielder Eric Cheray ranks among the Valley's leaders in walks and paces the Bears with a .471 on-base percentage to go along with a .321 batting mark.
About the Razorbacks
The preseason No. 1 in three of the four major Division I polls, Arkansas has recovered from a rocky first month of the season to put itself back in contention for a strong finish with a 29-15 overall record entering the week. Head coach Dave Van Horn has 17 letterwinners back from last year's team that came within one victory of reaching the College World Series championship series. This year's club relies heavily on a pitching staff that boasts the top team earned run average (1.75) and hits allowed per nine innings (6.39) mark in the nation. Weekend anchors Ryne Stanek (5-2, 1.60 ERA, 55 K's) and Barrett Astin (3-2, 2.02 ERA) have turned in dominant stretches for the Razorbacks, while Tuesday's expected starter, LHP Randall Fant is enjoying a career year with a 3-1 mark to go along with a 2.23 ERA and a .213 batting average against.
Closer Colby Suggs gives Arkansas a reliable stopper with a 2.03 ERA and seven saves on the year, while a notable nine different Razorback hurlers who have made at least six appearances bring earned run averages of 1.93 or better into Tuesday's contest.
On the offensive side, the Razorbacks lean on sophomore infielder/outfielder Brian Anderson, who paces the squad with a .322 batting average and 32 runs scored. Redshirt freshman Tyler Spoon has proved to be a reliable power source in his first collegiate season, with team highs of seven steals, three home runs and 38 runs batted-in to his credit. Senior infielder Jacob Mahan and sophomore outfielder Joe Serrano have been key contributors for Arkansas as well. Mahan has clubbed a pair of homers and posted the second-best batting average (.300) and on-base percentage (.413) among the Razorback regulars. Serrano enters the week just a shade under the .300 mark (.299) with 41 hits and 24 runs scored to help charge an offense that is hitting .264 as a group.
Gordon Nearing Milestone
Senior reliever Grant Gordon enters Tuesday's game with 199 career strikeouts, just one punch-out shy of becoming the 15th Missouri State pitcher to reach the 200-K plateau. The Salem, Mo., product would match Tim Clubb (2007-09) for the No. 14 spot on the Bears' career strikeouts list with his next one. Gordon is within four strikeouts of Jeff Gray (2001-04) in the 13th spot and just five short of Ken Watkins (1967-70) and John Hardin (1996-00) in the No. 12 position.
A Flair for the Dramatic
Keenen Maddox clubbed his first home run of the season Sunday at Evansville, crushing a two-out bomb to snap a 1-1 tie in the eighth inning, propelling the Bears to an eventual 2-1, series-clinching win over the Purple Aces. The game-winning clout marked the sixth time in Maddox's MSU career that the senior has driven in the go-ahead run in a Bears victory with a home run. The Ballwin, Mo., native has hit two walk-off winners -- a two-run shot to beat Missouri on April 15, 2010, and solo blast to take down Southern Illinois on April 27, 2012.
Maddox has continued to swing a hot bat for MSU, keying the Bears' 12-2 win over Bradley on April 20 with a career-best 4-for-5 effort at the plate. The senior has a pair of three-RBI games in MSU's last two conference series, as well as a streak of consecutive multi-hit games to six in a row (April 7-16). That figure represented the longest such streak for a Bear since the 2010 season, when Kevin Medrano accomplished the feat.
Over the Bears' last 25 games, Maddox has hit .390 and slugged .530 -- both team highs -- to pace an offense that has averaged nearly six runs per contest.
While the Bears' offense has registered double-digit hit totals in 10 of its last 13 contests, the Missouri State pitching staff has chipped in with a hot streak of its own over the last seven games. MSU hurlers have limited the opposition to just 16 runs (11 earned) in six Bear victories over the same stretch, good for a 1.61 combined ERA. The Bears have allowed two runs or less in six of the seven games, while striking out 58 hitters over a total of 61.2 innings.