DOWN TO THE WIRE
With just two weekends remaining in the regular season schedule, Missouri State (10-4 MVC) and Indiana State (10-5 MVC) remain at the head of the pack in the league standings.
Illinois State (8-8 MVC) and Southern Illinois (9-9 MVC) both sit three games back from league-leader Missouri State, while Wichita State (7-8 MVC) and Evansville (7-8 MVC) have the most ground to gain with six league games remaining.
Bradley (8-10 MVC) remains in close contention, while Creighton (5-12 MVC) currently holds onto the eighth position.
30 AND OVER CLUB
Both Indiana State (36-12) and Missouri State (34-14) have already passed the 30-win plauteau this season. The Sycamores' 36 wins are the most since tallying 36 victories in 2003, and marks the 26th time overall that Indiana State has compiled 30+ wins in a season.
The Bears 34 wins so far this season are the most since an identical 34 decisions in 2009, and marks the 18th time since 1991 that Missouri State has posted 30+ victories in a season.
Wichita State (29-22) needs just one more victory to tally its 35th-straight 30+win season.
The league's top-four teams (in terms of RPI ranking) each saw jumps of at least five spots following last week's games. Missouri State jumped five spots to No. 34, while the Shockers improved 10 spots to No. 44. Indiana State moved up six spots to No. 50, while Illinois State saw the biggest jump (12 spots) to No. 57.
FOUR IN RPI's TOP-60
According to the latest RPI update from WarrenNolan.com (May 7), four Missouri Valley Conference teams are in the RPI's top-60. Missouri State leads the way at No. 34, followed by Wichita State (No. 44), Indiana State (No. 50) and Illinois State (No. 57).
VALLEY RPI RANKS No. 7
According to the latest RPI update from WarrenNolan.com (May 7), the Missouri Valley Conference ranks No. 7 amongst 32 leagues. Four BCS conferences (ACC, SEC, Pac-12 and Big 12) hold the top four positions, while Conference USA and West Coast are the only non-BCS leagues ahead of the MVC.
VALLEY NPI RANKS No. 4
According to the latest Nolan Power Index (NPI) update (May 7), the Missouri Valley Conference holds steady at 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.
FIVE IN NPI's TOP-100
According to the latest NPI from WarrenNolan.com (May 7), five league teams are in the top-100. Indiana State leads the way at No. 16, followed by Missouri State (No. 20), Illinois State (No. 36), Bradley (No. 68) and Wichita State (No. 81).
The Valley has a combined 26-14 (.650) record against the three "Big" BCS conferences, including a 14-2 mark against the Big 12, a 2-1 record against the Big East and a 10-11 tally against the Big Ten. In fact, MVC schools have compiled a 27-18 (.600) record against the six BCS conferences this season.
This week's Missouri Valley Conference Baseball Player and Pitcher of the Week are Missouri State's Kevin Medrano and Nick Petree, respectively.
MISSOURI VALLEY CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Kevin Medrano, Sr., 2B, Missouri State
Kevin Medrano went 7-for-15 (.467) with six RBIs in helping the Bears capture the Jayhawk Classic title with a perfect 3-0 weekend in Lawrence, Kan. The senior second baseman was named the tournament’s most-outstanding player after recording a hit in each of the Bears’ three games over the weekend, including back-to-back three-hit efforts against Air Force. The Lee’s Summit, Mo., product went 3-for-5 with a season-high four RBIs in Friday’s 7-0 victory, then came back with a 3-for-4, 2-RBI game Saturday as part of an 11-3 MSU win. Medrano also played a pivotal role in the Bears’ 6-3 win over host Kansas on Sunday, starting Missouri State’s game-clinching, three-run rally in the 11th inning with a one-out single that moved him into a tie with Bill Mueller for second on the MSU career hits list.
MISSOURI VALLEY CONFERENCE CO-PITCHERS OF THE WEEK
Nick Petree, So., RHP, Missouri State
Nick Petree struck out a career-high 12 batters over eight scoreless innings of the Bears’ 7-0 victory over Air Force Friday at the Jayhawk Classic in Lawrence, Kan. The sophomore right-hander limited the Falcons to three hits in pushing his personal scoreless streak to 30.0 consecutive innings to eclipse a Missouri State single-season record. Petree (9-2), who was named the tournament’s most-outstanding pitcher, won for the ninth time in 11 starts and surpassed the previous MSU single-season scoreless innings record of 29 1/3 innings set by Greg Reed in 1988. The Clinton, Mo., product also stretched his string of consecutive innings without allowing an earned run to 64 2/3 straight frames 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:
Anthony Bemboom (CU) - Bemboom led the Bluejays offensively last week at Bradley, helping propel the Jays to their first Valley series win of the 2012 season. Bemboom hit .400 on the week, leading the team with four hits, including a 3-3 day in the 4-2 win on Sunday. Bemboom had a team high .455 on base percentage and a .500 slugging percentage in the three games last week.
Eric Aguilera (ILS) - Aguilera went 5-for-11 (.455) during Illinois State’s sweep against in-state rival Southern Illinois last weekend. Aguilera collected a hit in every game and scored four runs with two RBI and one home run. He also amassed a .727 slugging percentage and established a .455 on-base mark against the Salukis. On Friday night, Aguilera went 2-for-3 and scored the go-ahead run after singling to get on base. The Cary, Ill., native hit a two-run homer during Saturday’s game to give the Redbirds the early lead. He also went 2-for-4 with two runs scored in ISU’s series-finale victory against the Salukis. Aguilera now leads the Redbirds with seven home runs this season, and he has scored a team-best 38 runs.
Jeremy Lucas (INS) - Lucas led Indiana State with four hits over the weekend, picking up at least one hit in each game of ISU’s series win over Wichita State. Lucas drove in the game-winning run in extra innings on Friday, sending the Sycamores to 1-0 win in 10 innings with a single down the right field line. The ISU junior went 2-for-3 with a walk at the plate on Saturday as ISU picked up their 11th straight series win with a 6-3 victory. Lucas went 1-for-4 on Sunday with an RBI double, pushing his team-leading total to 49 RBIs for the season.
Chris Serritella (SIU) - Serritella hit .364 (4-for-11) with 9 total bases for the Salukis in three games this past week. On Saturday he drove in all three of SIU’s runs, including his MVC leading 11th home run of the season. The two-run blast came in the fifth inning and gave Southern a 3-2 lead over Illinois State. Serritella hit two doubles this weekend, giving him a conference leading 21 on the season, which ties him for third most in a single season in school history.
Joe Bircher (BU) - Bircher pitched Bradley to a 3-1 win against Creighton Friday night by tossing a 3-hitter in his fourth complete game in five starts. The 6-foot-4 left-hander took a 2-hit shutout into the ninth inning, before a leadoff error in the ninth contributed to an unearned run. Creighton managed just three singles off Bircher, who struck out nine to run his season total to 99 strikeouts. Already the school record holder for career strikeouts (288), Bircher broke the school record for career innings-pitched during Friday’s game, pushing his total to 339.1. Now boasting a 7-1 record on the season, Bircher lowered his earned run average to 2.11 and his opponent batting average to .207.
Reese McGraw (CU) - McGraw pitched flawless innings on the mound last week, picking up a pair of wins in his two appearances at Bradley. McGraw finished the weekend with 3.2 innings of no-hit baseball, striking out two batters and not issuing a free pass all weekend (no walks or hit batters). He lowered his ERA to 2.80 over the weekend, and now is the team-leader in wins (4) and saves (4).
Ryan Billo (UE) - Billo tossed a nine-inning shutout gem against Belmont, but took the no-decision as the Aces won in walk-off style in a, 1-0, 11-inning victory. The right-hander had four perfect frames and allowed only one runner past second base, as he scattered six hits, walked none, and matched a career-high six strikeouts in a career-high nine complete innings, before being relieved by Zach Taylor entering extras. Billo leads the Aces with a 7-1 record on the season and 2.25 ERA.
Chris Razo (ILS) - Razo did not allow an earned run in seven innings of work against Southern Illinois Friday night. The junior right-hander struck out five Salukis and allowed just three hits and two walks to help the Redbirds win the series-opener. He also limited SIU to a .130 batting average. Razo now leads Illinois State with 61 strikeouts.
Dakota Bacus (INS) - Bacus threw seven shutout innings on Friday night against Wichita State, lowering his team-leading ERA to 1.98 on the season. With Indiana State and Wichita State locked in pitchers’ duel in the first game of their series, Bacus forced the Shockers to leave eight runners on base in his seven innings on the mound while also allowing just two hits in 13 at-bats with runners on base. In MVC play this season, Bacus is 2-1 in five starts with a 1.70 ERA, allowing just seven earned runs in 37 innings of work.
Cody Forsythe (SIU) - Forsythe pitched his third consecutive complete game this week but was once again the tough luck loser. The Salukis Friday starter took a perfect game into the fifth inning before surrendering a ground ball for a two-out single. The junior southpaw retired 21 of the first 22 Illinois State batters of the game. All three of the runs against him in the game came in the eighth inning when the Redbirds led off with back-to-back infield singles. One of those singles was on a check swing. Heading into the eighth inning, Forsythe had lowered his conference ERA to below 1.00.
Josh Smith (WSU) - Smith pitched 6.2 shutout innings on May 4 at Indiana State. He allowed just three hits with one walk and four strikeouts in a no decision. The Sycamores hit just .143 against him and he lowered his ERA to 3.01.
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 30 games against 2011 NCAA Tournament teams, as seven league teams have wins over last year's NCAA field – Bradley (4-2), Evansville (3-4), Illinois State (4-5), Indiana State (3-1), Missouri State (7-3), Southern Illinois (2-6) and Wichita State (7-3).
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.
Wichita State is the only league school to have ever won back-to-back regular-season league championships. The Shockers 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 156-86-1 (.644) in non-conference action (through games of Sunday, May 7), 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 156-86-1 (.644) +70
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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