THE FINAL STRETCH
With just three weekends remaining in the regular season schedule, Missouri State (10-4 MVC) and Indiana State (8-4 MVC) are at the head of the pack in the league standings.
Southern Illinois (9-6 MVC) and Wichita State (6-6 MVC) are both in hot pursuit of moving up the ladder.
Evansville (7-8 MVC) and Bradley (7-8 MVC) remain in close contention, while Illinois State (5-8 MVC) and Creighton (3-11 MVC) hold onto the seventh and eighth positions, respectively.
Creighton and Wichita State both rank in the top-20 in average attendance this season. The Bluejays welcome 3,075 fans to TD Ameritrade each game, good for 18th in the nation, while the Shockers average 2,897 fans to Eck Stadium each contest, currently ranking 20th.
Wichita State saw its most significant RPI boost of the season last week, claiming the series victory over visiting Dallas Baptist, 2-1. The Shockers' RPI improved 15 spots to No. 54 after two victories over the Patriots (No. 37 RPI).
FOUR IN RPI's TOP-70
According to the latest RPI update from WarrenNolan.com (Apr. 30), four Missouri Valley Conference teams are in the RPI's top-70. Missouri State leads the way at No. 39, followed by Wichita State (No. 54), Indiana State (No. 56) and Illinois State (No. 69).
VALLEY RPI RANKS No. 8
According to the latest RPI update from WarrenNolan.com (Apr. 30), the Missouri Valley Conference ranks No. 8 amongst 32 leagues. Four BCS conferences (SEC, ACC, Pac-12 and Big 12) hold the top four positions, while Conference USA, West Coast and Southern are the only non-BCS leagues ahead of the MVC.
VALLEY NPI RANKS No. 4
According to the latest Nolan Power Index (NPI) update from WarrenNolan.com (Apr. 30), the Missouri Valley Conference ranks No. 4 amongst 32 leagues. The NPI is determined through a combination of non-conference record and strength of schedule. Three BCS conferences (ACC, Pac-12 and SEC) are the only three leagues ranking higher than the Valley.
SIX IN NPI's TOP-100
According to the latest NPI update from WarrenNolan.com (Apr. 30), six league teams are in the NPI's top-100. Indiana State leads the way at No. 14, followed by Missouri State (No. 30), Illinois State (No. 42), Bradley (No. 55), Wichita State (No. 91) and Evansville (No. 98).
The Valley has a combined 23-14 (.622) record against the three "Big" BCS conferences, including a 12-2 mark against the Big 12, a 2-1 record against the Big East and a 9-11 tally against the Big Ten. In fact, MVC schools have compiled a 24-18 (.571) record against the six BCS conferences this season.
Bradley improved to 13-7 in true road games and 19-12-1 overall away from home in 2012. The 13 road wins surpasses Bradley’s road victory total from the previous three years combined (12-48). Bradley’s 19 wins away from home are tied with Indiana State (19-8) for the most in The Valley and the fifth-most in the nation, trailing only Purdue (25-5), North Dakota State (25-9), Cornell (21-7) and Holy Cross (21-12).
Creighton and Illinois State battled to a 15-inning game in the series opener, with Creighton pulling out the 6-5 win at home. It marked the most innings played in a single game in TD Ameritrade Park history.
Going 2-for-2 on the base paths versus Murray State (Apr. 25) and swiping one against Bradley (Apr. 27), Eric Stamets now holds sole possession of second place all-time at UE with 95 career steals (95-119) in just his third year of play. Aaron Pembroke (1995-98) holds UE’s record with 106 career steals.
Indiana State’s 34 wins through 45 games is its second most in school history, sitting just three games behind the 1979 squad’s 37-8 record.
PORTRAIT OF A PITCHER
Sophomore right-hander Nick Petree turned in seven scoreless innings in the Bears’ 1-0 win over Southern Illinois Friday, striking out nine while allowing five hits and walking just one. Petree, who was named to the College Baseball Hall of Fame’s Pitcher of the Year Watch List last week, lowered his Division I-leading ERA to 0.70 and extended his personal scoreless streak to 22.0 straight innings, marking his second stretch of 20+ scoreless innings in 2012. The Clinton, Mo., product also stretched his string of consecutive innings without giving up an earned run to 56 2/3 frames over his last nine outings dating back to March 2.
MORE MILESTONES FOR MEDRANO
Missouri State's Kevin Medrano reached another career milestone over the weekend, appearing in his 200th career game on Sunday versus Southern Illinois. Medrano became just the 13th Bear to accomplish the feat. Medrano also moved into sole possession of fourth place on the Bears’ career hits list Sunday, surpassing Dant’e Brinkley’s career total of 279 safeties. Matt Gardner holds the MSU career hits record with 316 over a four-year career spanning 1999-2002.
BETTER THAN BEFORE
With Saturday’s win over Missouri State, SIU earned its 24th win of the season. That tops the Salukis’ 2011 win total, and SIU still has 11 regular season games remaining on the schedule. Southern needs to win two of its six remaining MVC games to match its conference win total from 2011. This past weekend, SIU also surpassed its run total from last season. The Dawgs have scored 290 runs in 2012 compared to 276 in 2011.
EXTRA, EXTRA, READ ALL ABOUT IT
Wichita State has played six extra inning games this season and is 5-1 in those games. The Shockers won their fifth of the season on April 24 in 15 innings at Kansas State. The five wins is a school record for extra inning wins in a season. The 2000 and 1997 teams each won four extra inning games. The 2000 team went 4-1 , while the 1997 team went 4-2.
This week's Missouri Valley Conference Baseball Player and Pitcher of the Week are Wichita State's Don Lambert and Missouri State's Nick Petree, respectively.
MISSOURI VALLEY CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Don Lambert, Sr., OF, Wichita State
Lambert led the Shockers to a 3-1 week including a road win at Kansas State and a series win over Dallas Baptist. He went 7-for-16 (.438) with seven runs, two doubles, one home run, six RBI, five walks and three stolen bases in the four games. In the 15 inning win at Kansas State, he went 2-for-6 with a run, four RBI, a double and a home run. The four RBI tied his career-high and his two-run double in the top of the 15th inning was the game winner as WSU won 9-7. In game one against DBU, he went 3-for-4 with a career-high four runs and two RBI. In game two, he went 2-for-4 with two runs and a double and in the finale he walked two times. He had a hit and scored a run in three of the four games and reached base via a walk in each of the four games.
MISSOURI VALLEY CONFERENCE CO-PITCHERS OF THE WEEK
Nick Petree, So., RHP, Missouri State
Petree turned in seven scoreless innings in the Bears’ 1-0 win over Southern Illinois Friday, striking out nine while allowing five hits and walking just one. Petree lowered his Division I-leading ERA to 0.70 and extended his personal scoreless streak to 22.0 straight innings, marking his second stretch of 20+ scoreless innings in 2012. The Clinton, Mo., product also stretched his string of consecutive innings without giving up an earned run to 56 2/3 frames over his last nine outings dating back to March 2.
Noteworthy - In addition to the league's player and pitcher of the week selections, several conference players had notable performances, and they include:
Chris Godinez (BU) - Godinez hit .542 in Bradley’s five games last week, helping the Braves to a 4-1 record and their first Valley road series win since 2008. Godinez hit safely in all five games last week, including four games with multiple hits, finishing the week 13-for-24 with three doubles and six runs scored from his leadoff position. He was 2-for-4 with two runs scored in Tuesday’s 7-3 win against Iowa, then added a 3-for-5 performance with a stolen base and a run scored in Wednesday’s 4-3 win against Northern Illinois. Godinez started the weekend series at Evansville by going 4-for-5 with two doubles, a stolen base, two runs scored and two RBI’s in Friday’s 7-2 victory. After going 1-for-5 in Saturday’s game, Godinez wrapped up the week by 3-for-5 with a double, a run scored and an RBI in the 6-5 win against the Purple Aces. Godinez’s big week pushed his season batting average to a team-best .376, just two points off Kirby Puckett’s 1981 school record .378 average by a Bradley freshman.
Brad McKewon (CU) - McKewon led the Bluejays offense with a .333 average, picking up four hits including a double in game two against Illinois State. In the 15-inning, 6-5 Creighton win in game one, McKewon drove in a run on a 2-5 day from the plate. He is currently on a team-leading four game hit-streak, just one game under his career best.
Kevin Kaczmarski (UE) - Kaczmarski crossed the plate in all four of Evansville’s contests and recorded three multi-hit games, leading the Aces with a .643 batting average, .857 slugging percentage, and .688 on-base percentage on the week. Kaczmarski piloted UE to a 13-2 win over Murray State, going 3-for-4 with two doubles, two RBI, and two runs scored. He replicated his 3-for-4 performance in Friday’s game vs. Bradley with a run and RBI. Going 2-for-3 Saturday, Kaczmarski sparked a four-run eighth inning rally with a walk and scored the first run in the frame as the Aces came from behind to win, 4-2. The Cary, Ill. native stretched his season hitting streak to six games and Valley streak to seven Sunday, with an RBI double and run scored. On the season, Kaczmarski raised his average to a team-best .333 and .396 in conference play, while also keeping his perfect fielding percentage intact with 116 putouts in centerfield after making 14 last week.
Ty Wiesemeyer (ILS) - Wiesemeyer extended his hitting streak to a season-best 11 games with hits in all three of Illinois State’s games last week versus No. 13 Purdue and at Creighton. He also extended his on-base streak to 14. Wiesemeyer slugged .600 and legged out three triples. He also collected two RBI and scored two runs with five hits. The Troy, Ill., native went 3-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored in Illinois State’s Saturday evening victory against Creighton. He continues to lead the Redbirds with a .364 batting average, which ranks fourth in the Missouri Valley Conference, and Wiesemeyer has collected a league-high six triples. He also has the second-highest RBI total on the team, with 37.
Jeremy Lucas (INS) - Lucas led ISU with five hits this past week, picking up two doubles and his ninth home run of the season. Lucas went 2-for-5 on Tuesday against Illinois, giving ISU a 5-4 lead with a two-out, two-run double to left-center. The ISU junior hit his team-leading ninth home run of the season on Saturday against Nebraska Omaha, also providing the Sycamores with a one-run lead in the game. Lucas leads ISU this season with a .359 batting average and 47 RBIs.
Eric Cheray (MSU) - Cheray turned in his best week as a Bear, hitting a team-high .462 and slugging 1.000, while playing perfect defense at shortstop to help Missouri State claim a key MVC series win over Southern Illinois. Cheray, who kicked off the week with a 2-for-4 effort that included a ninth-inning triple against Missouri, recorded hits in each of the Bears’ four contests on the week. The freshman then went 4-for-9 (.444) in MSU’s series with the Salukis, leading the Bears’ charge in Sunday’s rubber match by going 2-for-2 with a pair of walks and two runs scored. Cheray drove in the tying run with his first career home run in the third inning, then doubled home the go-ahead tally to open the scoring in the Bears’ critical seven-run rally in the fifth.
Chris Serritella (SIU) - Serritella hit .533 (8-for-15) with 12 total bases in four games this past week. In Tuesday’s win against Southeast Missouri State, he matched a school record with three doubles and also scored three runs in the game. In three weekend games against the Valley’s top pitching staff, he hit .455 against Missouri State, including a pair of hits against Nick Petree on Friday. Serritella hit his fourth double of the week as part of a two-run rally in the first inning of Saturday’s 8-3 win over MSU. He drew an intentional walk in the fifth inning of that game, which loaded the bases and set up a five-run inning. Serritella added two more hits to his total and drove in SIU’s first run of the game in Sunday’s contest.
Justin Ziegler (BU) - Ziegler made a pair of starts for the Braves last week, going 1-0 with a 0.82 ERA and seven strikeouts in his 11.0 innings. In Tuesday’s 7-3 home win versus Iowa, Ziegler scattered six hits, allowing three runs, one earned and striking out four in his 6.0 innings. Ziegler came back to work the first 5.0 innings Saturday at Evansville, holding the Purple Aces scoreless on four hits with three strikeouts.
Joe Bircher (BU) - Bircher went the distance for the third time in his last four starts, leading the Braves to a 7-2 win Friday night at Evansville. After allowing two runs, one earned, in the first inning, Bircher held the Purple Aces scoreless over the final eight innings to improve to 6-1 on the season. Bircher allowed only five hits, all singles, and struck out nine to crack the school’s single-season top 10 list by increasing his season total to 90 strikeouts.
Kurt Spomer (CU) - After a rough start to the 2012 season, Bluejay senior Kurt Spomer has done nothing but improve. He finished last week with a flawless 0.00 ERA, surrendering just one hit in 4.0 innings of work. He earned the win in the 15-inning victory over Illionois State, throwing the final 3.0 innings without surrendering a hit and striking out one. He held opponents to just a .083 average against last week, earning his first Missouri Valley Conference win of the season.
Kyle Lloyd (UE) - Despite taking the no-decision, junior Kyle Lloyd put the Aces in great position for the 4-2 victory over Bradley Saturday, holding the Braves to just one run, five scattered hits, two walks, while striking out six in seven innings of work. The right-hander allowed only one runner past second base with three perfect frames, and struck out four consecutive batters in the first and second innings. Without any run support, Lloyd exited the contest trailing 1-0. On the season, Lloyd lowered his ERA to 2.97 overall and to 2.89 in Valley outings.
Dylan Craig (ILS) - Craig pitched the first nine-inning, complete-game victory for Illinois State since 2009 in ISU’s 7-2 win at Creighton Saturday evening. The freshman left-hander threw the full nine innings, allowing just two earned runs on four hits with four strikeouts and three walks. He became the first Illinois State pitcher to produce a complete-game effort since former Redbird Ryan Copeland tossed a complete game in 2009. Craig faced the minimum in four of the nine innings against the Bluejays, and he gave up just two extra-base hits. The Murphysboro, Ill., native has allowed only three earned runs with 11 strikeouts over his last two starts (15.0 innings). Craig now leads the Redbird pitching staff with a 6-2 record, which is tied for fourth-most wins in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Dakota Bacus (INS) - Bacus struck out eight batters in eight innings on Friday night against Nebraska Omaha, allowing just four hits and one run in ISU’s 2-1 victory. Bacus did not walk a batter during his time on the mound, allowing only one runner to pass second base. The ISU junior hurler took no-decision as the Sycamores rallied for a walkoff win on a two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Nathan Dorris (SIU) - Dorris pitched seven shutout innings against Southeast Missouri State at Abe Martin Field. He scattered six hits in the game and matched a career high with nine strikeouts. Dorris allowed just one extra-base hit in his seven innings of work and was efficient with his pitch count. The lefty threw 82 pitches in seven innings and left the game with SIU comfortably ahead 9-0. He retired 10 of the first 11 batters of the game and also sent down the last five hitters he faced in order. With the win, he matched the team lead with his sixth victory of the year.
A.J. Ladwig (WSU) - Ladwig made two appearances out of the bullpen last week for the Shockers. He pitched 7.1 shutout innings and allowed just four hits with one walk and two strikeouts. On Tuesday at Kansas State, he earned the win as he pitched the final five innings. He did not allow a hit or a run in the five innings and walked one and struck out two in the game. In Sunday’s game against Dallas Baptist, he threw 2.1 shutout innings and allowed four hits with no walks. Opposing batters hit just .167 against him for the week. He improved to 3-1 overall and lowered his ERA to 3.23.
AGAINST THE FIELD
The MVC holds a winning record against 20 leagues in non-conference play (America East, Atlantic Sun, Big 12, Big East, Big West, Colonial, Conference USA, Great West, Horizon, Ivy League, Metro Atlantic, Mid-American, Mid-Eastern, Ohio Valley, Patriot, SEC, Southland, Summit, Sun Belt and SWAC).
The MVC holds a 3-4 record against top-25 teams so far this season, as Southern Illinois topped No. 19 Stetson and Wichita State tallied two victories over No. 24 Purdue. The Valley was a combined 7-9 against top-25 teams last season and 2-11 against ranked teams in 2009-10.
AGAINST THE 2011 NCAA FIELD
The Valley has won 18 games against 2011 NCAA Tournament teams, as six league teams have wins over last year's NCAA field – Bradley, Evansville, Illinois State, Missouri State, Southern Illinois and Wichita State.
The Bears have seven wins against the 2011 NCAA field, including three over Oral Roberts, two over Oklahoma State and one each over Dallas Baptist and Kansas State. The Redbirds have four wins against the 2011 NCAA field – one each against Austin Peay, Illinois, Maine and Navy, while the Braves have tallied three victories – one each over Illinois, Navy and UALR. Evansville has notched two wins versus 2011 Tournament teams – as the Purple Aces have beaten Vanderbilt and Austin Peay, while Southern Illinois and Wichita State have one win apiece over 2011 NCAA Tournament participants – Stetson and Oral Roberts, respectively.
Since the start of the 24-game conference schedule in 2005 (three-game series), the top two places in the regular-season standings have been separated by just one game in every year except one – in 2009 when first-place Missouri State had a two-game lead over second-place Indiana State heading into the State Farm MVC Baseball Tournament.
Creighton is looking to become just the second Valley school to win back-to-back regular-season titles, as the Shockers are the only league school to have ever accomplished this feat. Wichita State won back-to-back titles in 2007-2008 and were winners of 14 consecutive regular-season championships from 1987-2000.
NON-CON NEVER BELOW .500
The Missouri Valley Conference boasts a 150-83-1 (.642) in non-conference action (through games of Sunday, Apr. 29), which currently ranks 13th best all-time in term of winning percentage. Below are the best non-league results, dating back to 1981, as well as the number of post-season bids registered each season:
Year Non-Conf. +/- Post-Season Teams
1987 186-67 (.734) +119 2 NCAA (INS, WSU)
1985 196-80 (.708) +116 1 NCAA (CU, SIU, WSU)
1990 180-76 (.703) +104 3 NCAA (WSU)
1988 165-77 (.679) +88 1 NCAA (WSU)
1983 187-89 (.776) +98 2 NCAA (INS, WSU)
1986 168-84 (.663) +84 2 NCAA (INS, SIU)
1991 195-101 (.658) +94 2 NCAA (CU, WSU)
1998 154-82 (.651) +72 1 NCAA (WSU)
1999 163-88 (.649) +75 3 NCAA (CU, MSU, WSU)
1989 182-99 (.647) +83 2 NCAA (INS, WSU)
1982 201-110 (.646) +91 1 NCAA (WSU)
1995 157-86 (.645) +71 3 NCAA (INS, MSU, WSU)
2012 150-83-1 (.643) +567
2005 199-112 (.640) +87 2 NCAA (CU, WSU)
1984 141-81 (.634) +60 1 NCAA (INS)
1992 182-110 (.622) +72 2 NCAA (CU, WSU)
1981 190-117 (.619) +73 2 NCAA (SIU, WSU)
2007 183-116 (.612) +67 2 NCAA CU, WSU)
1993 177-121 (.594) +56 1 NCAA (WSU)
2011 156-104 (.600) +52 1 NCAA (CU)
1996 141-105 (.573) +36 2 NCAA (MSU, WSU)
2002 134-100 (.572) +34 2 NCAA (MSU, WSU)
2006 173-130 (.571) +43 2 NCAA (UE, WSU)
1997 148-111 (.571) +37 2 NCAA (MSU, WSU)
2000 137-105 (.566) +32 3 NCAA (CU, UE, WSU)
1994 166-128 (.565) +38 2 NCAA (ILS, WSU)
2008 161-126 (.561) +31 1 NCAA (WSU)
2001 130-111 (.539) +19 1 NCAA (UNI)
2003 134-115 (.538) +19 2 NCAA (MSU, WSU)
2009 145-125 (.537) +20 1 NCAA (WSU)
2004 124-118 (.512) +6 1 NCAA (WSU)
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