May 7, 2014
Missouri State Game Notes
Missouri State Bears (20-25) vs. Kansas Jayhawks (30-20)
Date: Wednesday, May 7
First Pitch: 6:35 p.m.
Location: Springfield, Mo.
Site: Hammons Field (8,000)
Series History: MSU leads 26-24
Live Video: Bears All-Access
Radio: KBFL 1060 AM (Art Hains)
Live Audio: RadioSpringfield.com
Tickets: MSU Athletics Box Office
The Missouri State Bears (20-25) will host their final midweek contest of the season Wednesday (May 7) when the Kansas Jayhawks (30-20) pay Hammons Field a visit for a 6:35 p.m. game.
Missouri State suffered a 5-1 setback to Oral Roberts Tuesday evening, falling behind by four runs early and leaving 11 men on base for the game. With four home dates remaining on the schedule, the Bears are just 6-9 at Hammons Field this season, meaning a loss Wednesday would guarantee MSU's first losing home season in 11 seasons at their new home.
KU has won seven straight games since its 6-5 setback to the Bears on April 23. Most recently, the Jayhawks swept nationally-ranked Texas Tech in Lawrence after taking all three games from Baylor the previous weekend.
Up next, the Bears depart for Indiana State and their final road MVC series of the regular season, beginning with a 5:30 p.m. (Central) first pitch Friday (May 9) in Terre Haute, Ind.
♦ The Bears lead the series with KU by a 26-24 margin thanks to five consecutive wins over the Jayhawks dating back to 2011; MSU is 15-10 at home vs. the Jayhawks, including a 4-3 mark at Hammons Field
♦ Missouri State enters its final midweek game of the season 13-17 (.433) in non-conference contests in 2014 after posting a combined 65-37 (.637) mark in non-MVC games over the previous three years
♦ The Bears ranked 17th nationally as a pitching staff in strikeouts per nine innings pitched as of May 5, with Clay Murphy's K/9 IP rate of 10.07 ranking as the 21st-best in all of Division I baseball
♦ Zach Merciez has posted an 0.82 ERA in 11 appearances vs. non-conference foes in 2014, allowing just one earned run in 11.0 innings
♦ Tate Matheny has hit .421 (27-for-64) in 16 games since April 11, raising his batting average 53 points to a season-high .333; the sophomore is batting .433 and slugging .733 in MVC play this season
♦ Jake Powers has fanned 13 batters over five consecutive hitless relief outings spanning 8.0 innings since April 12; the senior right-hander logged the first two saves of his MSU career during the stretch (April 12 at Bradley and April 26 at UT Martin)
♦ Seniors Patrick Drake and Trey Massenberg bring strong track records vs. Kansas into Wednesday's game; Drake has hit .429 (3-for-7) against the Jayhawks over his career, while Massenberg is a .400 (4-for-10) hitter vs. KU
♦ Since winning six of seven home games from March 26-April 18, the Bears have been held to one run in each of their last four contests--all losses--at Hammons Field, hitting just .151 and slugging .183 as a team
♦ MSU is 16-1 in 2014 and 31-2 over the last two seasons when scoring at least six runs; conversely, the Bears are just 4-24 when failing to top the five-run mark in 2014
Missouri State brings a narrow 26-24 edge in the series, as well as a five-game win streak vs. the Jayhawks, into Wednesday's game. The Bears are 15-10 vs. KU in Springfield, including wins in each of their last two meetings at Hammons Field. MSU prevailed 6-5 in the two clubs' first match-up of the season in Lawrence (April 23), with the Bears scoring three times in the top of the ninth inning to pull out the comeback victory.
Cutting it Close
The Bears finished off their regular-season series against Dallas Baptist with a 10-5 victory Sunday -- their first in six tries against the Patriots this season -- but not before suffering two more one-run setbacks to DBU. The lopsided advantage enjoyed by DBU in the season series can be attributed to the outstanding pitching and defensive efforts turned in by the Patriots, who logged a team ERA of 1.67 and a collective .986 fielding percentage in capturing four of the meetings by a single run.
Dallas Baptist shut out the Bears in four of the six contests, but MSU pitching recorded a strong showing as well, limiting the Patriots to .168 hitting and a team slugging percentage of just .222 in the two series. In all, the Bears out-hit DBU by a 38-31 margin, but batted just .188 with runners on base in the six contests. Furthermore, MSU's starting pitchers combined to post an ERA of just 0.96 in the six-game season series, limiting DBU to just 25 hits with 42 strikeouts in 47.0 innings
Math on Matheny
Bears center fielder Tate Matheny has enjoyed a strong start to the Valley season, ranking first or second among all MVC players in a number of major offensive statistical categories. The sophomore leads the conference in hits (26) in league play, while his Valley totals for batting (.433), slugging (.733), on-base percentage (.514), home runs (5) and total bases (44) all rank second in the circuit.
Over his last 11 MVC contests, Matheny has recorded seven multi-hit games, batting .444 (20-for-45) with five homers and 14 RBIs. In 36 career Valley games, Matheny has been a .362 hitter with seven of his 12 career home runs as a Bear.
In Rare Company
MSU bench boss Keith Guttin needs one more victory to catch Steve Kittrell (South Alabama) in the No. 36 spot on the NCAA's Division I career wins list and seven additional wins to match the career total of current Georgia Tech head coach Danny Hall in the 35th position. The Bears' 32nd-year head coach previously passed former Indiana State coach Bob Warn with MSU's victory over Abilene Christian on March 7, making him the second-winningest Valley coach behind Wichita State's Gene Stephenson (1,837).
With a career record of 1,083-700 (.607), Guttin currently ranks 13th on the NCAA's wins list for active coaches. He became the 46th Division I baseball coach and the third Valley mentor to reach the 1,000 career-win mark with MSU's 3-2 victory at Northwestern State on March 3, 2012, also becoming the first coach at Missouri State in any sport to reach the milestone and the 20th Division I baseball coach to accomplish the feat while guiding just one school.