May 6, 2013
Missouri State Game Notes
Missouri State Bears (27-16) vs. Oral Roberts Golden Eagles (18-26)
Dates/Times: Tuesday, May 7 - 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 8 - 6:30 p.m.
Location: Springfield, Mo.
Site: Hammons Field (8,000)
Series History: ORU leads series 26-19 (MSU has won three straight)
Radio: KBFL 1060 AM (Art Hains, Terry Clayton)
Live Audio and Video: Bears All-Access(Wednesday only)
Tickets: (417) 836-7678
The Missouri State Bears continue their longest home stand of the season with a two-game midweek series against the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles at Hammons Field. Game one is scheduled to get underway at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday (May 7), with the second contest also slated for a 6:30 p.m. first pitch Wednesday (May 8) night.
The Bears (27-16) will be looking to stop a four-game losing streak -- their longest of the season -- after dropping all three contests in a key MVC series with Wichita State over the weekend. MSU will be looking to avoid its first five-game slide in over two years while building momentum for the stretch run with just two weekend series remaining on their regular-season schedule.
Conversely, Oral Roberts (18-26) enters the series riding a four-game win streak after their three-game Southland Conference sweep of Lamar this past weekend.
Up next, the Bears will wrap up the home portion of their schedule with a three-game series against Wright State, beginning with a 1 p.m. game Friday (May 10).
♦Oral Roberts brings a 26-19 series advantage over the Bears into Tuesday's game, but MSU has won 11 of their last 12 meetings with the Golden Eagles, including seven in a row at Hammons Field dating back to 2008
♦Missouri State leads the Valley in team ERA (3.11) and strikeouts (352) for the second straight year
♦MSU has hit .302 as a team and averaged 7.0 runs per game in their last 12 meetings with ORU
♦IF Eric Cheray has hit .479 over his last 15 games, reaching safely in each while logging a .603 OBP
♦OF Tate Matheny leads all MVC freshmen in batting, slugging, runs scored, hits, home runs and total bases
♦MSU hurlers have posted the 13th-best team strikeout-walk ratio (2.91) in all of Division I baseball to date
♦SS Travis McComack played in his 200th game Friday and needs one hit to join the 200-hit club for his MSU career
♦Freshman Matt Hall has held the opposition to a .195 batting mark, good for fourth in the MVC; Hall also ranks 36th in all of Division I baseball in hits allowed per nine innings (6.28)
♦OF Keenen Maddox and DH Koby Peebles rank first (17) and third (16), respectively, in RBIs in Valley play
In a series that dates back to 1979, ORU brings a 26-19 all-time advantage versus the Bears into Tuesday's game. The Bears have dominated the Golden Eagles over the last five seasons, however, winning 11 of the two clubs' 12 meetings. MSU has been especially strong vs. ORU at home, claiming seven victories in a row against the Golden Eagles and eight of the nine games played in the series at Hammons Field. The Bears are 11-5 all-time against ORU in Springfield.
Last year, the Bears split two games with ORU in Tulsa, then swept a pair from the Golden Eagles at Hammons Field to wrap up the season series.
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 43 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 third-best ERA in the MVC (1.62) through 11 starts to pace a staff that has recorded a league-best 3.11 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 3.36 ERA to date. 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 .280 batting mark and 24 RBIs both 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 (.346), runs scored (35), hits (64), home runs (4) and total bases (88). Senior outfielder Keenen Maddox has been one of the Bears' hottest hitters of late, batting .417 with 16 RBIs over MSU's last 17 games. Finally, sophomore infielder Eric Cheray ranks among the Valley's leaders in walks and paces the Bears with a .481 on-base percentage to go along with a .336 batting mark.
About the Golden Eagles
Oral Roberts brings an 18-26 mark into Tuesday's game after engaging eight ranked opponents in its first 24 games of the season. First-year head coach Ryan Folmar welcomed back 19 letterwinners from last year's 38-25 squad that captured a conference title and an NCAA Regional berth. The Golden Eagles are led at the plate by junior outfielder Tyler Boss, who paces the ORU offense with a .288 average and seven steals to go along with five homers and 28 RBIs. Sophomore outfielder Logan Domenico (.272 BA, 23 RBIs) shares the team lead with 29 runs scored, while sophomore infielder Jose Trevino (.269, 7 HR, 33 RBIs) poses a significant power threat with a team-best seven home runs and 33 runs batted-in on the year. Finally, sophomore infielder Matt Brandy (.270 BA) has played a key role for the Golden Eagles as well with a club-high .396 on-base percentage and 22 RBIs.
On the mound, ORU features junior right-hander Alex Gonzalez, whose seven wins and 1.89 earned run average paces a staff that has posted a 3.88 team ERA to date. Senior right-hander Tim Zufall has been solid for the Golden Eagles as well, logging five wins and a 3.57 ERA in 12 overall appearances, including nine starting assignments. Sophomore right-hander Nathan Garza (0-4, 2.81 ERA) has three of ORU's three saves and a team-high 20 appearances through the first 44 games of the season.
Bears Bring the `O' Against ORU
In winning 11 of the last 12 meetings in its series with the Golden Eagles, Missouri State has thrived at the plate. The Bears have scored 84 runs against ORU, or an average of 7.0 per game, over the last five seasons. Additionally, MSU has hit a collective .302 (127-for-420) with 14 homers against Golden Eagle pitching over the same span. Individually, Travis McComack has feasted on ORU pitching with a .438 career average in seven previous games against the Golden Eagles. Keenen Maddox has enjoyed success against ORU as well, with a .308 (8-for-26) batting mark in seven career games vs. the Golden Eagles. Additionally, Luke Voit went 6-for-14 (.429) with five RBIs to help the Bears claim three of four games from the Golden Eagles last season.
MSU's pitching staff enjoyed a strong 2012 showing against ORU as well, combining to hold the Golden Eagles to a .208 team batting mark and just six total runs in the four-game series.
Missouri State continued to get key contributions from the Cheray family this past week, as Eric Cheray powered the Bears' offense by hitting .462 (6-for-13) with four runs scored and his first home run of the season in four games, while cousin Andy Cheray held the duo's home state rival Wichita State to just two hits over a career-long 8.2-inning stint Sunday. Since April 12, Eric has registered a .603 on-base percentage, while hitting a team-best .479. Andy has been equally as dominant, limiting the opposition to a .217 batting average while posting a 3.09 ERA - the lowest among all MSU starting pitchers - over his last five starts dating back to April 9.
While the Bears dropped all four of their contests last week, each followed a familiar pattern with a final margin of three runs or less. MSU lost its three conference games to Wichita State over the weekend by a total of six runs, and the Bears have been outscored by just 17 combined runs in their seven Valley losses this season. Furthermore, the Bears have been beaten by an average of just 2.5 runs in their 16 losses this season, including 14 that have been decided by three runs or less.
Once in a Blue Moon
Wichita State pulled off a rare come-from-behind win Sunday against a Missouri State bullpen that had not suffered a defeat when taking a lead into the ninth inning in over three years. The Shockers erased a 9-8 deficit with three ninth-inning runs in the first game of the two clubs' doubleheader, marking the first loss for MSU when leading after eight innings since an April 11, 2010 setback at Bradley, a stretch of 183 games for the Bears. Entering the weekend, the Bears had won 91 consecutive games in which they had taken a lead into the ninth. MSU has a 344-12 record over the last 14 seasons when leading after eight innings of play.
Gordon Gets No. 200
Senior reliever Grant Gordon recorded his 200th strikeout as a Bear in Saturday's 3-2 loss to Wichita State, becoming the 15th Missouri State pitcher to reach the milestone. The Salem, Mo., product passed Tim Clubb (2007-09) for the No. 14 spot on the Bears' career strikeouts list with his two punch-outs vs. the Shockers and is now within two strikeouts of Jeff Gray (2001-04) in the 13th spot and just three short of Ken Watkins (1967-70) and John Hardin (1996-00) in the No. 12 position.