Bears Set to Visit Tigers for Final Non-Conference Game of Season
Eric Cheray
Eric Cheray

May 8, 2012

Missouri State Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader
Missouri Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Missouri State Bears (34-14) at Missouri Tigers (25-22)
Wednesday, May 9
First Pitch 6 p.m.
Location: Columbia, Mo.
Site: Simmons Field at Taylor Stadium (3,031)
Series History: Missouri State leads 22-21
TV: None
Radio: KBFL 1060 AM (Art Hains, Terry Clayton)
Live Audio and Video: Mizzou Network (subscription required)
Live Stats:

Leading Off
The Missouri State Bears (34-14) will travel north to Columbia to finish off the non-conference portion of their 2012 schedule with a 6 p.m. game Wednesday (May 9) against the Missouri Tigers (25-22) at Simmons Field. After sweeping three games from Air Force and Kansas last weekend, the Bears will look to continue a string of success against the Big 12 Conference. MSU, which dropped a 4-3 decision in 11 innings to the Tigers in the first meeting of the two clubs on April 25, has won six of eight games against Big 12 foes this year and 12 of 16 over the last two seasons combined. MU took two of three games from Texas over the weekend to stop a five-game slide.

Prime 9
♦ The Bears are 22-21 all-time against the Tigers and have won six of their last seven games in Columbia
♦ Missouri State ranked 34th in the latest NCAA Division I RPI report released Tuesday
♦ The Bears are 6-2 vs. the Big 12 Conference in 2012 and a combined 12-4 over the last two seasons
♦ MSU is 13-7 in true road games and a combined 18-9 in road/neutral field games in 2012
♦ Missouri State leads the nation in strikeouts per nine innings (9.20) and junior RHP Pierce Johnson rates sixth among all Division I hurlers in the same category (11.47)
♦ MSU ranks second in the nation in team ERA (2.51), led by sophomore RHP Nick Petree's 0.63 ERA and 30.0 consecutive scoreless innings, both of which lead the Division I ranks in 2012
♦ Missouri State starting pitchers have yielded just one home run over a span of 27 games since March 20
♦ Senior 2B Kevin Medrano (289 hits) moved into a tie with Bill Mueller for second place on the Bears' career hits list with his 11th-inning single Sunday at Kansas; Medrano hit .467 (7-for-15) with six RBIs over three games to earn Jayhawk Classic MVP honors last weekend
♦ Freshman SS Eric Cheray is 11-for-30 (.367) over the Bears' last 10 games, including a 4-for-9 weekend in Lawrence that netted the Topeka native a spot on the Jayhawk Classic All-Tournament squad

Missouri Series
Wednesday's game will mark the 44th meeting of the two schools, with the Bears clinging to a 22-21 advantage. Missouri claimed the first meeting of the two clubs in Springfield, escaping Hammons Field with a 4-3 win in 11 innings on April 25. The Bears have enjoyed success at Simmons Field in recent years, coming away with wins in six of their last seven trips to Columbia over the last decade.

About the Bears
Following a disappointing end to an otherwise memorable bounce-back 2011 season, Missouri State entered the new year as the preseason choice to capture the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title for the fourth time in the last 12 seasons under 30th-year head coach Keith Guttin. After a rough start to opening weekend in Lubbock, Texas, the Bears rebounded to win 20 of their next 24 games to post their best start to a season in a decade.

Leading the way for the Bears has been second baseman Kevin Medrano (.324, 22 RBI, 15 2B, 11 SB) who leads the club in hitting and ranks fifth in the MVC in total hits. The senior from Lee's Summit, Mo., has been hot at the plate lately after a sluggish start to move into a second-place tie with Bill Mueller on MSU's career hits list (289). Junior Keenen Maddox saw his career-best 11-game hit streak come to an end April 17, but still brings a .312 batting mark into Wednesday's game. Serving as the Bears' primary DH, Maddox has hit .333 with a team-high four homers since March 30. Senior outfielder Spiker Helms (.300, 5 HR, 36 RBI) ranks among the MVC's top 10 performers in a number of different offensive categories, including a team-leading 19 doubles and a league-high 35 walks. Fellow senior Brock Chaffin (.316, HR, 35 RBI) has 16 multi-hit games and at least one RBI in 23 contests, while junior catcher Luke Voit (.291, 4 HR, 36 RBI) has five game-winning RBIs this season and 16 for his MSU career to rank ninth in school history. Senior third baseman Brent Seifert (.272, 5 HR, 38 RBI) paces the club in RBIs and has reached base safely in 43 of the Bears' 48 games. Finally, sophomore outfielder Trey Massenberg (.291, 3 HR, 18 RBI, 6 3B, 8 SB) has blossomed in his second season as a Bear. He has an MVC-leading six triples and has scored 21 times over MSU's last 25 contests.

The Bears' pitching staff has been the strength of the team through the first 11 weeks of the season, despite a series of key injuries. Nick Petree (9-2, 0.63), who went 9-2 with a 2.81 ERA to garner Freshman All-America honors last spring, has won nine of his last 10 decisions and leads the nation in earned run average. The right-hander, who was tabbed for the College Baseball Hall of Fame's Pitcher of the Year Watch List in late April, brings a string of 64 2/3 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run, as well as a school-record 30.0-straight scoreless frames into the week. Junior right-hander Pierce Johnson (2-5, 3.11) has been dominant over his first nine starts of the season in spite of a lack of run support that has resulted in three one-run setbacks. After missing two starts in April due to a forearm strain, Johnson returned to the mound April 23 at Wichita State and brings the nation's sixth-best strikeouts/nine innings mark into the week. Junior righty Cody Schumacher (7-0, 4.22) has been a dependable third starter in his first year as a Bear, helping his club claim wins in 12 of his 13 starts to date. Finally, the Bears' bullpen has been nearly as dominant as the rotation, fashioning a string of 18 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings over nine outings (March 13-25), and a 0.53 ERA over a 17-game span (Feb. 29-March 25). Freshman lefty Tyler Burgess (4-0, 1.19, 10 saves) has been sensational in his MSU debut to lead the group, notching a victory or a save in each of his first seven appearances as a Bear without allowing an earned run. Junior right-hander Grant Gordon (5-3, 3.08) gives MSU a versatile weapon out of the bullpen and ranks among the Valley's top 10 for total victories in 2012.

About the Tigers
Under the direction of 17th year head coach Tim Jamieson, the Tigers return 15 letterwinners from last year's 27-32 squad that finished eighth in the Big 12 Conference race. Missouri, which brings a 25-22 overall mark into Wednesday's contest, features a balanced offensive attack, led by Scott Sommerfeld's .306 average. Dane Opel (.288, 9 HR, 25 RBI) and Blake Brown (.285, 8 HR, 33 RBI, 14 SB) form a powerful tandem in the middle of the Tigers' batting order, combining for 17 homers through the first 47 games of the season. Brannon Champagne, has also been a key contributor to the Tigers' offense, boasting a .271 average to go along with 12 steals on the year. Conner Mach brings a .284 batting mark into the week, good for the fourth-highest average on the squad.

On the mound, Missouri relies on a deep stable of arms, particularly in the bullpen, where right-handers Dusty Ross (3-0, 2.48 ERA) and Jeff Emens (2-1, 2.69 ERA) have combined to go 5-1 with four saves over 47 outings. Closer Jake Walsh (2-3, 3.68 ERA) provides a dependable option at the end of games, coming into the week with eight saves in 28 appearances. As far as starters go, the Tigers have leaned on a pair of left-handers in Blake Holovach (5-4, 4.22 ERA), who has notched a team-high five victories, and Rob Zastryzny (4-3, 3.81 ERA), who has posted a team-high 60 strikeouts in 78.0 innings pitched.

Laurels From Lawrence
Five Bears picked up all-tournament honors at the Jayhawk Classic in Lawrence, Kan., over the weekend, led by Kevin Medrano's selection as tourney MVP and Nick Petree's most-outstanding pitcher citation. Additionally, Spiker Helms, Eric Cheray and Grant Gordon were tabbed for the all-tournament squad after the Bears' 6-3 win over host Kansas in 11 innings clinched the title for MSU on Sunday.

Setting the Standard
It was just another weekend at the office for the Missouri State pitching staff at the Jayhawk Classic, as the Bears posted a 1.24 team ERA and 28 strikeouts in 29 total innings. Behind Nick Petree's eight scoreless innings Friday, the Bears notched their eighth shutout of the season with a 7-0 win over Air Force. Petree fanned a career-high 12 hitters to mark the 23rd time this season MSU has logged 10 or more strikeouts, leaving the Bears just one game shy of the school record of 24 double-digit strikeout performances, set in 2010.

Medrano on the Move
Senior second baseman Kevin Medrano reached another career milestone over the weekend, reaching the top of the Bears' career singles list with his 11th-inning hit in Sunday's 6-3 win over Kansas. Medrano, who has started 201 of his 203 career games, surpassed the previous MSU record of 222 singles, set by Bill Mueller (1990-93), while moving into a tie for second on the Bears' all-time hits list, also equaling Mueller's total with his 289th career hit. Matt Gardner holds the MSU career hits record with 316 over a four-year career spanning 1999-2002. Medrano appeared in his 200th career game as a Bear April 29 against Southern Illinois. He became just the 13th Bear to accomplish the feat, doing so with a 3-for-5 afternoon to lead MSU's 13-hit attack in a 12-6 victory.



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