Monday, May 17, 2010 | Baseball
Baseball Weekly Notebook (May 17)

Seeds Up for Grabs
With just one weekend remaining in the regular season schedule, Illinois State and Wichita State continue to lead the way in the league standings. 

The Redbirds (14-4 MVC) took the first two games in last weekend's series with Bradley, while the Shockers (15-6 MVC) remain just a half-game behind Illinois State following their 2-1 series victory over visiting Missouri State.  Illinois State has never won the regular-season MVC title, and will take on that challenge this weekend when the Redbirds travel to Evansville.   

Southern Illinois (8-9 MVC) won its second league series of the season last weekend with two victories over visiting Evansville (8-10 MVC).  The Salukis sit 5.5 games behind first-place Illinois State, while the Purple Aces are six games behind the Redbirds.  Southern Illinois will take on Missouri State this weekend.   

Creighton (9-12 MVC) and Indiana State (9-8 MVC) took on non-conference opponents last weekend.  The Bluejays won two  in a three-game series with Seattle, while the Sycamores topped SIU Edwardsville and Eastern Illinois.  Creighton has wrapped up league play and will await their seed as the final MVC games play out.  Indiana State sits 4.5 games out of first place and will finish up its regular-season at Bradley. 

If Today Was Your Last Day
If the State Farm MVC Baseball Tournament started today, seeding would be as follows:

Team (MVC Record)

Games
Remaining

Opponent

1. Illinois State (14-4)

3

@UE

2. Wichita State (15-6)

---

---

3. Indiana State (9-8)

3

@BU

4. Southern Illinois (8-9)

3

@MSU

5. Evansville (8-10)

3

ILS

6. Creighton (9-12)

---

---

7. Bradley (6-12)

3

INS

8. Missouri State (5-13)

3

SIU


Best/Worst Case Scenarios
With just one weekend remaining in the regular season, the best and worst case scenarios for each team's league record are as follows:

Current Record

Best-Case
Scenario

Worst-Case
Scenario

Illinois State (14-4)

17-4

14-7

Wichita State (15-6)

15-6

---

Indiana State (9-8)

12-8

9-11

Southern Illinois (8-9)

11-9

8-12

Evansville (8-10)

11-10

8-13

Creighton (9-12)

9-12

---

Bradley (6-12)

9-12

6-15

Missouri State (5-13)

8-13

5-16

 
Watch the Tournament
Every game of this year’s State Farm MVC Tournament will be available on the air.  MVC Live, the conference’s online streaming production, will carry the first 14 games of the tournament and Fox Sports Midwest will televise the tournament final on Saturday, May 29 at 1:30 p.m.  Fans can sign up for the free stream by visiting www.mvc-sports.com and clicking on the banner at the top of the page or by clicking “subscribe” underneath the video player.

Six in the 300 Club
Bradley is the only team in the Valley to boast six regular players with batting averages of .300.  The six-man group of Mike McMillan (.376), Brian Martin (.364), Matt Fritz (.342), Jason Leblebijian (.338), Rob Elliott (.335) and Kevin Sullivan (.310) own a collective .344 batting average. 

Servais Gets #250
Head coach Ed Servais toppled the 250-win plateau at Creighton with the Jays 3-1 victory over visiting Seattle last Saturday.  Servais now owns a 251-142 record at Creighton.  He enters the weekend with 110 career wins in MVC play.  The only other coach with more league wins in their first seven seasons in the MVC is former Evansville coach Jim Brownlee, who recorded 111 in his first seven campaigns.

Three or Less is Best
The magic number for Creighton pitchers this season has been three.  The Jays are 11-0 when they allow three runs or less and 13-1 when the opponent scores four or less.  The Jays haven't finished a season undefeated when allowing fewer than three runs in a game since 2000.

A Record Week
Greg Wallace had a week to remember, as he surpassed three UE milestones last week.  Wallace broke UE's single-season record for RBI with 68 on Tuesday against Austin Peay, while also tying the school-record for single-season triples with nine.  He then also became just the 22nd player in UE baseball history to surpass the 200-hit barrier on Saturday afternoon in the Purple Aces' game at Southern Illinois with a pair of hits.
 
Double Your Pleasure
For the second time this year, Evansville tied the single-game team record for doubles with eight two-baggers in its 14-2 victory at Southern Illinois on Friday.  Five different Purple Aces knocked doubles in the contest, led by junior OF Nate Smith, who had three.  UE also had eight doubles this past March in a game at Austin Peay.  Overall, UE will enter this week's action with 118 doubles, as the Purple Aces are just 14 doubles shy of UE's single-season record of 132.

40+ Base Swipers
UE freshman Eric Stamets has a chance to accomplish something that has not been done in the MVC since 1996, as he enters this week's action on the verge of surpassing the 40 stolen base mark for a single-season.  Stamets will enter this week's action having swiped a school-record 40 bases this year.  No Valley player has surpassed the 40-steal mark since Wichita State's Randy Young stole 68 bases during the 1996 season.

Tokarski Takes Two
Illinois State second baseman Kevin Tokarski clubbed another double last week to tie Illinois State's single season mark with 23.  The previous record was set in 2008 by Kevin Dubler, a former teammate of Tokarski's.  The sophomore also swiped three bases during last week's games to move within five steals (27) of his own single-season mark of 32 set as a freshman in 2008.

Double-Digit Hits
Indiana State's 16 hits against Eastern Illinois on Friday broke a string of five straight games that the Sycamores were held under 10 hits.  Ten has been the magic number for ISU this season, as the team is 23-4 when recording double-digit hits in a game.

Strikeouts Aplenty
The 2010 season has featured more strikeouts per game than any other year in Missouri State baseball history. Bears' pitchers and hitters have already posted top 10 totals in strikeouts through 49 games, with a combined average of 17.45 per contest.  The current record of 15.98 was set in 2001.

Medrano Ends at 29
Kevin Medrano's hitting streak came to a hard-luck end Saturday at 29 games, one shy of the school record.  The sophomore grounded out sharply to shortstop in the first inning and walked in his next two plate appearances before being stranded in the on deck circle when the final out was made, leaving him without a fourth plate appearance.

Kickham Fans 10 Again
Mike Kickham struck out 10 on Friday night to reach double figures for the fourth time this season - 10 at Wichita State, 14 vs. Illinois State, 11 vs. Missouri and 10 vs. North Dakota State. The last player to have at least four 10-strikeout games in a season was Ross Detwiler in 2007, who did it five times before becoming the sixth overall pick in the 2007 draft.

Serritella Stops at 20
Sophomore Chris Serritella saw his 20-game hitting streak come to an end on May 15.  His streak was one of just three done by a Saluki in the last five seasons that lasted at least 20 games.  Serritella is hitting .420 since his streak started on April 6 with 37 hits, nine doubles and three home runs.  He has driven in 25 runs since April 6, had 10 multiple-hit games and nine multiple-RBI games.

K-Master
Sophomore pitcher Jordan Cooper collected a career-high 14 strikeouts in Friday night's win over Missouri State.  He is the first Shocker pitcher to have 14 or more strikeouts since Mike Pelfrey had 14 against Missouri on June 4, 2004, in the Fayetteville Regional.  The 14 strikeouts ranks third in the Shocker record books for strikeouts in a game.

Two-Hitter
Junior pitcher Tim Kelley pitched a complete game two-hitter on Saturday against Missouri State.  It was the first individual two-hitter thrown by a Shocker since Kris Johnson did it in 2004 against Missouri State in the MVC Tournament.

Back-to-Back Shutouts
The Shockers posted back-to-back shutouts in the first two games of the Missouri State series.  It was the first time since 2007 that the Shocker pitching staff had consecutive shutouts.  The last time was May 18-19, 2007 against Illinois State.

Season Streaks
Below is a list of the longest winning streaks of 2010:

2010 Longest Winning Streaks
Evansville 6, (A13-A20)
Indiana State 6 (M16-M23)
Southern Illinois 6 (M28-A6)
Wichita State 6 (A3-A10)
Bradley 5 (M1-M8)
Illinois State 5 (M19-M27)
Creighton 4 (A28-M2)
Missouri State 4 (A2-A7)

Non-Con. Never Below .500
The Missouri Valley Conference boasts a 132-110 (.545) in non-conference action (through games of Sunday, May 16).  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)
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)
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)

Against the Field
The MVC holds a winning record against nine leagues in non-conference play (Atlantic-10, Colonial, Great West, Mid-American, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southland, SWAC and Summit) and at least a .500 mark against the Big Sky. 

Against the 2009 NCAA Field
The Valley has won 16 games against 2009 NCAA Tournament teams, as all 14 wins have come from four teams - Bradley, Creighton, Missouri State and Wichita State. 

The Braves have five wins against the 2009 NCAA field - two versus Army and three against Tennessee Tech.  The Bears have tallied four wins versus 2009 Tournament teams - three against Oral Roberts and one versus Oklahoma State - while the Bluejays have three wins against last year's tournament field, including one each against Kansas State, Minnesota and Sam Houston State.  The Shockers have the final four victories, against Kansas, Washington State and Oklahoma State, twice.

It's About Time
Indiana State's series win against Creighton (Apr. 2-4) was their first series win over the Jays in Omaha since 1992.  In their previous three trips to face CU, the Sycamores had come back with ten losses and no wins.

Fireworks on Display
Missouri State's power display versus Oral Roberts on April 4 represented something not done at Missouri State since 2004.  The Bears bombed six home runs and tallied 41 total bases, identical to the numbers put up in a 2004 win at Saint Louis. Both numbers were Hammons Field records for MSU.

Best Show in Town
The Wichita State vs. Kansas State game on Tue., April 20 drew a crowd of 7,217 to Eck Stadium.  That figure was the 10th largest crowd in Shocker history and the largest regular-season crowd ever.

Now That's a Lot of Wins
Wichita State head coach Gene Stephenson won his 1,700th career game on Sunday, April 4 at Evansville.  He becomes just the second coach in Division I baseball history to reach that milestone, joining Augie Garrido of Texas.  Stephenson's career record now stands at 1,717-595-3.

Saluki Skipper for 200, Please
Southern Illinois head coach Dan Callahan picked up his 200th career Missouri Valley Conference victory in a 3-1 win over Bradley on Saturday, April 3.  He became the fifth coach in league history to reach the milestone and is just one of three active coaches with 200 Valley wins, joining Wichita State's Gene Stephenson (550) and Missouri State's Keith Guttin (300).

Quick Starts Crucial                                                   
If your team has plans on sitting atop the MVC standings heading into the league's postseason tournament, you might want to get off to a good start as every team that has won the MVC regular season has won at least 16 games since 2005, the first year of a 24-game conference schedule. 

In fact, only twice since 2005 has a team with a MVC winning percentage as low as .750 won the regular season title (2005, CU, 17-7; 2006, UE, 16-8).

Tight Races                                                
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.    

Deja' Vu
Wichita State has been the league's most dominant team since the inception of a conference schedule in 1984.  Since then, the Shockers have place in the top three of the regular season standings in 25 of the 26 seasons - the only season Wichita State did not finish in the top three was in 1984, the year the league first adopted a conference schedule.

Missouri State has placed in the league's top three in 13 of 19 seasons, including 11 of the last 14 seasons. 

Creighton has also finished in the top three 13 times - in the Bluejays' 26 seasons of league play.

This week's Missouri Valley Conference Baseball Player/Pitcher of the Week are Evansville's Cody Fick and Wichita State's Tim Kelley. 
        
MISSOURI VALLEY CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Cody Fick, Jr., IF, Evansville
Junior infielder Cody Fick hit an even .500 this week with two doubles, two home runs and nine RBI to power the UE offense this week.  Fick opened his week by going a perfect 3-for-3 and finishing a triple shy of the cycle in UE's 11-7 victory over Austin Peay on Tuesday.  He also launched his second home run of the week on Friday at Southern Illinois, a grand slam home run which keyed UE's nine-run eighth-inning explosion in the Purple Aces' 14-2 victory.  Fick wrapped up his week by going 3-for-4 with a double and two runs driven in on Sunday at Southern Illinois.  For the week, Fick went 9-for-18 at the plate with the four extra-base hits, five runs scored, and nine RBI.  He posted a .944 slugging percentage and a .524 on-base percentage, while handling all 13 defensive chances at third base without an error.

MISSOURI VALLEY CONFERENCE PITCHER OF THE WEEK 
Tim Kelley, Jr., RHP, Wichita State
Tim Kelley led the Shockers to a win on Saturday against Missouri State.  He pitched a complete game shutout with a season-high 10 strikeouts.  He allowed just two singles in the game and two walks.  He allowed just one runner to reach scoring position in the game and faced just two batters over the minimum.  He struck out at least one batter in seven of the nine innings and also struck out five-straight at one point.  He became the first Shocker to have an individual two-hit game since Kris Johnson did it against Missouri State in the 2004 MVC Tournament.  With the win, he improved to 9-2 on the year and lowered his ERA to 4.00.

Noteworthy - In addition to the league's player and newcomer of the week selections, several conference players had notable performances, and they include:   

  • Brian Martin (BU) - During Bradley's 3-game series at league-leading Illinois State, Martin was 7-for-10 (.700) with a home run, a triple, four runs scored, four RBI's and two stolen bases.  In addition to his seven hits, Martin walked five times, was hit by a pitch and laid down a sacrifice bunt in his 17 plate appearances, good for a .813 on-base percentage against the Redbirds.  In Friday's series opener, Martin was 4-for-4 with a triple and a walk in his five plate appearances.  In Sunday's series finale, Martin was 2-for-3 with a home run, a walk and a sacrifice in five plate appearances through the regulation nine innings, then was intentionally walked in all three plate appearances in the extra innings.  His four walks in the game matched the school single-game record.
  • Robbie Knight (CU) - Knight made his appearance since April 20 and first start since April 4 this weekend. His return came at just the right time, as Knight posted a two-run, walk-off double in the ninth inning of Sunday's 3-2 win over Seattle. Knight had a hand in all three Creighton runs on Sunday, finishing the 3-for-5 with two doubles, a run and two RBI. Knight made his first start of the weekend on Saturday, singling in his second at-bat. Overall he finished the weekend hitting .444 with the two doubles and two RBI.
  • Ryan Court (ILS) - Court hit his team-leading eighth home run last week while helping the Redbirds to another Missouri Valley Conference series win. The junior from Sleepy Hollow, Ill., led ISU offensively with a .412 batting average and drove in six runs. Court also had two doubles among his seven hits. Court's three-run blast sparked Illinois State to a 7-5 series-clinching win over Bradley in Saturday's game at Duffy Bass Field, the fifth MVC series win for the 'Birds in 2010. Court is heating up for the Redbirds at the right time, having raised his batting average 33 points with hits in nine of the last 11 games heading into the final week of the regular season.

  • Jeremy Lucas (INS) - Lucas put together one of his better games of the season on Friday against EIU, going 4-5 at the plate with a season-best three RBIs. The Sycamore rookie tallied his ninth stolen base of the season against the Panthers, pushing his season total to 9-for-10. Lucas also picked off a runner at first base, his second pickoff of the year.

  • Cody Lassley (WSU) - Cody Lassley led the Shockers to a series victory over Missouri State.  He went 6-for-12 (.500) in the series with one run, two doubles, one triple, five RBI and two walks.  In game one, he went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a triple.  In game two, he went 2-for-5 with four RBI and a double and in game three he went 2-for-4 with a run and a double.

  • Ty Blach (CU) - Blach gave the Bluejays a lift in Saturday's 3-1 win over Seattle. Blach hurled seven strong innings, allowing just an earned run on four hits. He came one strikeout short of his season-high of seven, whiffing seven Redhawks batters. Blach has thrown six or more innings in six of his last seven starts, and is averaging six innings per start. He also needs just five strikeouts to crack the top ten on Creighton's freshman strikeout list.

  • Keegan Dennis (UE) - Dennis held Southern Illinois to just two runs on eight singles over 7.0 innings of work on Friday to help UE win the series opener over the Salukis by a score of 14-2.  Dennis struck out six, while walking three and scattering the eight singles in seven solid innings of work.  He allowed single tallies in the first and third inning, but aside from that, did not allow another runner past second base on the afternoon.  He recorded a strikeout in six of the seven innings he worked, and was aided by a pair of double plays defensively.

  • Corey Maines (ILS) - Maines notched his fifth quality start of the season while holding Bradley at bay for more than six innings in Illinois State's series opening win Friday night. The junior from Houston, Texas, struck out six and scattered seven hits in 6.1 innings of work. Maines walked two batters and allowed two earned runs. He leads the Redbirds with five wins in 2010

  • Brandon Dorsett (INS) - Dorsett pitched in both games this past week for the Sycamores, recording a pair of scoreless innings on the mound. Dorsett picked up his second victory of the season against EIU, pushing his season record to 2-0. The Sycamore sidearm hurler is currently second on the team with a 2.66 ERA on the season while holding opposing batters to just a .175 average at the plate. 

Missouri Valley Conference Upcoming Schedule:

Tuesday, May 18
Eastern Illinois at Bradley, 6 PM
Nebraska at Creighton, 7 PM
Oral Roberts at Wichita State, 7 PM
Southern Illnois vs. Saint Louis, 7 PM

Thursday, May 20 
*Southern Illinois at Missouri State, 1 PM
*Illinois State at Evansville, 6 PM
*Indiana State at Bradley, 6 PM
New Orleans at Creighton, 4 PM
Dallas Baptist at Wichita State, 7 PM

Friday, May 21
*Indiana State at Bradley, 2 PM
*Illinois State at Evansville, 6 PM
*Southern Illinois at Missouri State, 6:30 PM
New Orleans at Creighton, 4 PM
Dallas Baptist at Wichita State, 7 PM

Saturday, May 22
*Illinois State at Evansville, 1 PM
*Indiana State at Bradley, 1 PM
*Southern Illinois at Missouri State, 2 PM
New Orleans at Creighton, 12 PM
Dallas Baptist at Wichita State, 2 PM

*MVC Game