Bears open MVC Tournament on Thursday
The Missouri State baseball team (38-15, 18-6 Missouri Valley Conference) begins the 2008 State Farm MVC Tournament Thursday at 11 a.m. at Eck Stadium in Wichita, taking advantage of its second-place finish in the league with a bye through Wednesday's opening round in a tournament format change new to the 2008 bracket. The Bears will play the highest remaining seed among the winners of Wednesday's games between No. 3 Creighton and sixth-seeded Bradley, and the 4/5 matchup of UNI and Southern Illinois.
VALLEY TOURNAMENT HISTORY
Missouri State has qualified for 17 of a possible 18 conference tournaments since joining the MVC in 1991, missing the field in 2005. The Bears are 27-30 all-time at the tourney with titles in 1996 and 1997 and runner-up finishes in 1995, 2002 and 2006.
The Bears have won at least one game in each tournament appearance since 1994.
Missouri State pitching is responsible for two of the three one-hitters in tournament history. In 2002, Matt Palmer and Andrew Jefferson combined to one-hit Wichita State in a game the Bears actually lost 3-0 when WSU homered after two men walked. Two years ago, Ross Detwiler hurled a complete game with eight strikeouts while holding Creighton to one hit in a 3-1 MSU victory. The third was thrown by Southern Illinois in 1977.
Last season, Missouri State upset Wichita State in the first round before being eliminated by Evansville and Bradley.
LIVE STATS INFORMATION
Live stats will be available at www.missouristatebears.com. Click "Live Stats" on the left side of the page and select the appropriate game.
COACH KEITH GUTTIN
Missouri State head coach Keith Guttin (Missouri-St. Louis, 1978) is in his 26th season as head coach of the baseball Bears and has a career record of 902-551 (.621). Guttin became the first coach at Missouri State (in any sport) to reach the 900-win mark with the May 11, 2008, win over Middle Tennessee at Hammons Field. In 2003, Guttin led the Bears to the NCAA Division I College World Series for the first time in school history. Guttin has been a conference Coach of the Year nine times with three of those coming in the Valley and six coming during the Bears’ years in the Mid-Continent Conference. During Guttin’s tenure, the Bears have made seven Division I NCAA Tournament appearances -- six in the last 13 years.
LAST TIME OUT
Missouri State went to Northern Iowa with a chance to bring home the conference title and took care of business the first two days. On Thursday, Tim Clubb two-hit the Panthers through eight shutout innings and got more help than he needed from the offense in a 12-2 rout.
On Friday, the Bears were trailing 1-0 in the seventh when Josh Mazzola smacked a two-run homer. UNI tied it in the bottom of the seventh but gave the Bears a 3-2 win with an eighth-inning error.
Needing a win on Saturday for a share of the championship, the Bears watched UNI score nine runs in the first three innings on the way to a 10-5 win.
The Bears boast the largest conference win improvement in the nation from 2007 to 2008. MSU jumped 11 games in the win column, from seven to 18, edging Dartmouth and Purdue, which improved 10 games each.
Missouri State's 36 wins through 50 games were the fifth-highest 50-game win total in school history. The Bears started 40-10 in 1989, 38-12 in both 1986 and 1987, 37-13 in 1990 and 36-14 in 2002.
MSU ended the season on a 10-game home winning streak that currently ranks as the sixth-longest nationally.
Missouri State is 23 games over .500 for the first time since the 2002 season.
Tim Clubb has gone at least seven innings in all eight MVC starts, racking up a 7-0 record and 1.99 ERA. He is first in the league with 96 innings pitched.
After giving up 10 runs in his first career start, Clubb has spent his 29 appearances since compiling a 2.77 ERA over 179 innings.
Clubb's 10-0 start has matched Jarrod Mays in 1995 for the best start in school history.
His 10 victories rank sixth nationally, while he is fifth with 96 innings pitched.
Clubb carries a 17.2 inning scoreless streak into the Valley Tournament during which opponents are hitting .103 and have not had more than one runner on base at the same time at any point.
Josh Mazzola is hitting .426 with nine home runs and 24 RBIs in the last 18 games.
Opposing starters have an ERA of 7.49 against Missouri State this season while allowing the Bears to hit .321 against them.
The MSU pitching staff closed the season on a strong note, tossing a 1.89 ERA and.187 opponent batting average the last six games.
Ben Carlson is in the top four in the Missouri Valley Conference in all three Triple Crown categories.
Only one player in the league has won the Triple Crown since 1975, Matt Cepicky in 1999, and just seven players have led the league in as many as two of those categories in the same season. Each of those seven led the league in homers and RBIs.
In conference play, the Bears have stolen 41 bases in 51 tries while opponents are just 11-for-18 on the basepaths.
The Bears have seven different players with at least eight stolen bases, something that has never happened at MSU.
The Bears are 17-4 this season in games decided by three runs or less, 28-0 when limiting opponents to five runs or fewer and 34-1 when the opponent scores six or fewer times.
MSU is 8-2 when trailing after the first inning this season.
MSU has been impressive in the third inning this season, hitting .370 as a team. Throw in its .329 average in the fourth, and the offense is outscoring opponents 129-77 in those two innings.
The biggest inning for power, however, has been the eighth. The offense is slugging .598 in the eighth frame this year with 12 homers and 15 doubles.
Freshman Tyler Ryun tossed seven innings in his first career start against Saint Louis on April 8, the longest an MSU pitcher has lasted in their first career start since Chris Krawczyk went seven frames on March 6, 2004.
Ben Woodbury ranks as the 25th most difficult batter to strike out in the country this season in the NCAA statistics released for games through May 4.
He has gone down on strikes 13 times this year in 219 at bats, a 16.8 average, upping his career average to one strikeout every 15.1 at bats.
Woodbury finished 2007 ranked 49th with a 13.8 average, and went 83 at bats and 100 total plate appearances without striking out midway through the season.
Woodbury reached base in each of the first 52 games this season and in 62 straight dating to the 2007 season before failing to get on May 17 at UNI.
In 51 opportunities leading off an inning this season, Woodbury has reached safely 27 times for a .529 average.
Drake batted .435 with 20 RBIs during his 15-game hit streak that lasted from Feb. 29 to Mar. 23.
Carlson hit .500 with six homers and 23 RBIs during his 15-game streak lasting from April 6-26.
Seven different Bears have recorded hit streaks of at least seven games this year.
Drake and Carlson each have two hit streaks of at least 10 games this season, both with a best of 15, while Woodbury has three separate 10-gamers.
Eight different players have had a four-RBI game this season.
Ben Carlson (18th-21), Nolan Keane (20th-19), Brayden Drake (24th-18) and Josh Mazzola (28th-16) each rank among the top 30 home run hitters in school history.
MSU is hitting .341 as a team with runners in scoring position. Brayden Drake has 99 at-bats in that situation, coming through with 38 hits for a .384 average.
Carlson, meanwhile, is 32-for-74 (.432) with a chance to drive runners home.
Carlson has a pair of multiple home run games this season and three in his career, making him the 11th player in school history with at least three multi-homer games.
Carlson's current total of 63 RBIs is the most for a Bear since Ryan Howard had 63 in 2000. Over half (32-of-63) of Carlson's RBIs have come with two outs.
Tim Clubb is allowing opponents to hit just .166 (26-157) against him with runners on base.
The MSU pitching staff is allowing teams to hit only .239 with two outs.
Missouri State is 31-7 in Friday, Saturday and Sunday games, including a 14-1 mark in non-conference play.