Bears Set to Host Wright State in Final Home Series This Weekend
 
Travis McComack
 
Travis McComack
 

May 9, 2013

Missouri State Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Missouri State Bears (27-18) vs. Wright State Raiders (20-24)
Dates/Times:
Friday, May 10 - 1 p.m.
Saturday, May 11 - 12 p.m.
Sunday, May 12 - 5 p.m.
Location: Springfield, Mo.
Site: Hammons Field (8,000)
Series History: Wright State leads 2-0
Radio: KBFL 1060 AM (Art Hains, Terry Clayton)
TV: None
Live Audio and Video: Bears All-Access(Saturday only)
Gametracker: MissouriStateBears.com
Twitter: @MSUBearBaseball
Tickets: (417) 836-7678
Promotions: Senior Day (Saturday pre-game)

Leading Off
With just six games remaining in the regular season, the Missouri State Bears will attempt to halt their longest dry spell in three years this weekend when they host the Wright State Raiders in a three-game series at Hammons Field. The Bears and Raiders will open their series at 1 p.m. Friday (May 10), before playing single games Saturday (Noon) and Sunday (5 p.m.) to wrap up the 2013 home slate.

The Bears (27-18) will be looking to end the third-longest losing streak in program history after suffering defeats in their last six outings, five of which have come at Hammons Field. Most recently, MSU was swept in a two-game midweek set against Oral Roberts (May 7-8) after dropping all three games in its Missouri Valley Conference series with Wichita State last weekend.

Wright State (20-24) has lost six of its last eight contests after a 4-1 setback at No. 18 Kentucky on Tuesday. The Raiders won two of three games against Horizon League foe Youngstown State last weekend to improve to 8-10 in league play, however. Up next, the Bears will make their final MVC trip to Omaha, where they will meet Creighton in a three-game series, beginning with a 12:30 p.m. game next Thursday (May 16).

Prime 9
♦Missouri State enters Friday's game on a six-game losing streak, its longest since May 2010
♦Since winning nine of their first 10 home games of the season, the Bears have dropped seven of their last 10 at Hammons Field, including five straight on their current homestand
♦MSU has generated just two scoring rallies for a total of four runs in its last 32 innings spanning four games
♦IF Eric Cheray has hit .446 over his last 17 games, reaching base safely in each while logging a .569 OBP
♦OF Tate Matheny leads all MVC freshmen in batting, slugging, runs scored, hits, home runs and total bases
♦RHP Nick Petree brings an 11-0 record and a 1.04 ERA in 17 career outings at Hammons Field into Friday's start
♦SS Travis McComack collected his 200th career hit in his 200th start as a Bear Wednesday vs. Oral Roberts
♦OF Keenen Maddox needs five hits to become the third active Bear to reach the 200-hit plateau this season
♦Freshman LHP Matt Hall has held the opposition to a .195 batting mark, while fellow rookie LHP Andy Cheray has posted a 3.09 ERA - the lowest among all MSU starting pitchers - since April 9 (five starts)

Series History
Wright State has claimed the only two meetings in its series with the Bears, both of which came on neutral fields. Most recently, WSU walked away with an 8-2 victory on March 19, 2010, in Stillwater, Okla. The Raiders also edged the Bears, 13-12, in a 1976 meeting in Edwardsville, Ill.

WSU is the only Horizon League school to hold a series advantage over the Bears. MSU is a combined 14-4 against the current membership of the conference.

About the Bears
Coming off a 40-22 campaign and their eighth NCAA Division I Regional appearance, Missouri State enters the final two weeks of the regular season in position to once again compete for a postseason berth. 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 3.15 team ERA. Freshman right-hander Jon Harris has made a significant impact in his first collegiate season, bringing an 8-1 mark to go along with a 3.72 ERA into the series after posting wins in each of his first eight collegiate starts. 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 eight steals lead MSU, while his .290 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 (.342), runs scored (35), hits (66), home runs (4) and total bases (91). Senior outfielder Keenen Maddox has been one of the Bears' hottest hitters of late, batting .400 with 16 RBIs over MSU's last 19 games. Finally, sophomore infielder Eric Cheray ranks among the Valley's leaders in walks and paces the Bears with a .472 on-base percentage to go along with a .331 batting mark.

About the Raiders
Wright State will bring a 20-24 overall mark into this weekend's series after finishing 37-21 a year ago under head coach Rob Cooper, who has guided the Raiders to three NCAA Regional appearances in his seven years at the helm. WSU features a balanced offensive attack led by junior outfielder Kieston Greene (.343 BA), who paces the club with a .538 slugging percentage and 32 runs scored. Senior catcher Garrett Gray (.330 BA/28 RBI) also imposes a significant power threat, with a team-high four homers to date, while sophomore infielder Michael Timm has driven in 30 runs to lead the Raiders. As a team, WSU is hitting at a .284 clip, with five regulars batting .302 or better.

On the hill the Raiders depend on Friday starter Casey Henn (4-6, 3.33 ERA) to do the heavy lifting for a staff that brings a 5.21 overall earned run average into the weekend. The senior right-hander already has one career win vs. the Bears to his credit after holding MSU to two runs on five hits over six innings in the Raiders' 8-2 win three years ago. Sophomore righty Travis Hissong (1-1, 2.93 ERA) has been the go-to arm out of the WSU bullpen, posting five of the Raiders' six saves this season while holding the opposition to a .184 batting average.

Senior Sendoff
Missouri State will pay tribute to seven Bears who will be playing their final home games this weekend with a Senior Day ceremony prior to the start of Saturday's game. This year's senior class, consisting of five-year veteran Travis McComack, four-year letterwinners Grant Gordon, Keenen Maddox and Luke Voit, as well as transfers Derek Locascio, Koby Peebles and Erik Shannahan has been instrumental in helping MSU continue its tradition of excellence with two 30-win campaigns in the last three seasons, as well as the school's eighth NCAA Regional appearance in 2012. Two additional MSU seniors -- pitchers Clay Murphy and Cody Schumacher -- will seek medical hardships with the intention of returning for the 2014 campaign. Altogether, the group of position players has made 610 starts, hitting 35 home runs, while the five pitchers have combined to post a 36-22 record in a total of 172 mound appearances.

Voit, McComack Join 200-Hit Club
Senior shortstop Travis McComack became the second Bear to join the exclusive 200-hit club in 2013, doing so in his 200th career start in Wednesday's 5-3 loss to Oral Roberts. McComack joins Luke Voit, who became just the 20th Missouri State player to join the club with his 1-for-4 performance vs. Oklahoma State on April 16. Voit moved up to the No. 17 spot on MSU's career hits list with his second-inning double off UE's Kyle Lloyd on April 27.

Voit's movement up the chart was fueled by a string of 19 straight games reaching base safely via a hit, walk or hit by pitch (March 27-April 28). Furthermore, the Wildwood, Mo., product has reached safely in 37 of his last 39 games dating back to Feb. 24.

The duo could be joined in the 200-hit club by fellow senior Keenen Maddox, who enters the weekend with 195 career hits in 177 games as a Bear. If Maddox reaches the milestone, it would mark the first time in program history that three 200-hit club members would be active on the same MSU roster.

Gordon Reaches Strikeout Milestone
Voit and McComack weren't the only Bears to reach the 200 mark in recent weeks, as fellow senior Grant Gordon recorded his 200th strikeout as a Bear in last Saturday's 3-2 loss to Wichita State, becoming the 15th Missouri State pitcher to reach the milestone. The Salem, Mo., product passed Jeff Gray (2001-04) with three punchouts Wednesday vs. ORU, moving into a tie with Ken Watkins (1967-70) and John Hardin (1996-00) for the No. 12 position on the Bears' career strikeouts list.

House of Horrors
Since starting the season with nine wins in their first 10 games at Hammons Field, the Bears have found their home turf to be anything but hospitable. MSU's current five-game home losing streak represents its third-longest at Hammons, trailing only a six-game skid in 2005 and an eight-game home slide (April 8-May 11, 2007) that was part of a school-record 14-game overall losing streak.

Missouri State, which has hit .299 as a team at Hammons Field this season, can point to its offensive inefficiency as one of the causes for its recent struggles at home. Over their last 10 home games, the Bears have hit just .258 with runners in scoring position and driven in runs in just 38.5 percent of their plate appearances with runners on third base and less than two out.

The Bears' offensive woes have been even more pronounced during their six-game losing streak. MSU is hitting .250 as a team overall and .224 (13-for-59) with runners in scoring position, while being outscored 32-18. MSU hurlers haven't been immune to the recent reversal of fortunes, posting a 4.92 ERA and yielding an average of 5.3 runs per game overall.

 

 

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