Baseball Weekly Notebook (Apr. 16)
BACK IN THE POLLS
Both Missouri State and Indiana State are back in the minds of the pollsters, as the Bears are ranked No. 29 in the latest Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Top-30 (Apr. 16). Missouri State, along with the Sycamores, are also Receiving Votes in the most recent NCBWA poll (Apr. 16).
FOUR IN RPI'S TOP-80
According to the latest RPI update from WarrenNolan.com (Apr. 16), four Missouri Valley Conference teams are in the RPI's top-80. Missouri State leads the way at No. 30, followed by Indiana State (No. 55), Illinois State (No. 58) and Wichita State (No. 78).
VALLEY RPI RANKS No. 7
According to the latest RPI update from WarrenNolan.com (Apr. 16), the Missouri Valley Conference ranks No. 7 amongst 32 leagues. Three BCS conferences (ACC, SEC and Pac-12) hold the top three positions, while Conference USA and the WCC 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. 16), 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.
FIVE IN NPI'S TOP-70
According to the latest NPI update from WarrenNolan.com (Apr. 16), five Missouri Valley Conference teams are in the NPI's top-70. Indiana State leads the way at No. 8, followed by Missouri State (No. 21), Illinois State (No. 29), Bradley (No. 64) and Evansville (No. 69).
Missouri State extended its home streak to 11 games, establishing a new Hammons Field record for consecutive wins. The Bears, who are 14-2 at home this season, are within striking distance of their best home mark at Hammons Field. MSU went 21-5 at home in 2008 to set the gold standard.
Current Home Win Streaks
1. Jackson State, 14
T2. Baylor, 13
T2. Coastal Carolina, 13
T4. Manhattan, 11
T4. Minnesota, 11
T4. Missouri State, 11
T7. LSU, 10
T7. Utah Valley, 10
Indiana State strung together a league-best 13-game winning streak from March 4-23, which ties for 10th best in the nation.
Longest Winning Streaks This Season
1. Kentucky, 22
2. Baylor, 19
T3. Campbell, 18
T3. Florida, 18
5. North Dakota State, 16
T6. Utah Valley, 15
T6. Wake Forest, 15
T8. New Mexico State, 14
T8. Wright State, 14
T10. Indiana State, 13
T10. Maine, 13
T10. Saint Louis, 13
T10. Sam Houston State, 13
RUNNING TEAMS OVER
Both Illinois State and Indiana State are among the nation's leaders in runs scored per game. The Redbirds are producing 7.9 runs/game, good for fifth in the nation, and have scored double-digit runs in eight games this season. The Sycamores are plating 7.3 runs/game, which ranks 13th in the nation, and have scored double-digit runs 14 times in 2012.
Offense-Runs Per Game
1. New Mexico State, 9.8
2. Utah Valley, 8.2
3. Campbell, 8.1
4. Texas-Pan American, 8.0
5. Illinois State, 7.9
6. Arkansas-Little Rock, 7.9
7. Nebraska, 7.8
8. Appalachian State, 7.6
9. Buffalo, 7.4
10. Kentucky, 7.4
11. Liberty, 7.4
12. Louisville, 7.3
13. Indiana State, 7.3
FEW AND FAR BETWEEN
Missouri State has been holding its opponents to a stingy 3.3 runs per game, which ranks tied for sixth in the nation. The Bears have only allowed teams to plate six or more runs six times this season, while Missouri State has also managed to win three of those six contests.
Defense-Runs Per Game
t1. Stony Brook, 3.1
T1. Arizona State, 3.1
T1. Portland, 3.1
T4. South Carolina, 3.2
T4. Rice, 3.2
T6. Liberty, 3.3
T6. Arkansas, 3.3
T6. Maryland, 3.3
T6. Missouri State, 3.3
10. Oregon, 3.4
Indiana State ranks third in the nation in scoring margin, winning by an average of 3.7 runs per game. In fact, of the Sycamores nine losses, six of them have been by just one run.
1. Campbell, +4.2
2. Liberty, +4.1
3. Indiana State, +3.7
4. New Mexico State, +3.6
5. Kentucky, +3.5
T6. LSU, +3.4
T6. North Carolina State, +3.4
T6. Purdue, +3.4
T6. Stony Brook, +3.4
10. William & Mary, +3.3
Indiana State and Missouri State, who combine for just 19 losses so far this season, have kept it close in nearly every game played. Fourteen of the 19 setbacks between the Sycamores and Bears have come by just one or two runs.
Indiana State has lost six contests by just one run, while Missouri State has fallen in five one-run games. The Sycamores add one two-run loss, while the Bears have two losses by just two runs.
Seven of Indiana State's nine losses have come by two or fewer runs (.778), while seven of Missouri State's 10 losses have come by two or fewer runs (.700).
FRESHMEN IN ELITE COMPANY
Though second baseman Chris Godinez does not yet have enough at-bats to officially qualify among Bradley's hitting leaders, he currently boasts the top batting average on the team at .357. Freshman centerfielder Max Murphy officially ranks second for the Braves with a .345 batting average. Since freshman eligibility was reinstated in 1973 Godinez currently ranks fourth in Bradley history with his .357 average, while Murphy is eighth. Of the three players on the freshman batting average list ahead of Godinez, two are Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett (.378 in 1981) and former big-leaguer Jim Lindeman (.370 in 1981).
With the win on Sunday afternoon, head coach Ed Servais is just four wins away from his 500th win as a collegiate head coach. The Bluejay skipper is now 496-263-1 overall.
Evansville’s series win versus Wichita State marks the Aces’ first over the Shockers since the 2006 season. Two weeks ago, the Aces won the series at Creighton, also marking the first time since ’06. That season, Evansville was Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Champions and won three NCAA Regional Tournament games.
SECOND 20+ RUN GAME OF THE SEASON
Illinois State scored 20+ runs for the second time this season when the Redbirds beat Northern Illinois, 22-3, Tuesday afternoon in DeKalb, Ill. Junior center fielder Chad Hinshaw homered twice and collected seven RBI to lead Illinois State past the Huskies. Four Redbirds had three hits, including senior second baseman Kevin Tokarski and senior left fielder Ty Wiesemeyer, who were both one hit shy of the cycle. Tokarski finished the game with a home run, a double and a single, while Wiesemyer had a home run, a triple and a double. Illinois State totaled its highest scoring output since Feb. 26, when the Redbirds beat Tennessee Tech, 28-2.
WINNER, WINNER, CHICKEN DINNER
Despite playing three of their first four MVC series on the road, the Sycamores have taken two out of three games in all four of their conference weekends. Indiana State stands as the only team in the conference that has not dropped a league series this season.
FOUR STRAIGHT WOULD BE GREAT
Indiana State is close to securing its fourth straight winning season, entering the week tied for ninth nationally with 28 wins so far. The last time Indiana State had four consecutive winning seasons was from 2000-03.
PETREE PUTS UP ANOTHER GOOSE EGG
Despite working the shortest starting stint of his Missouri State career, sophomore Nick Petree posted his sixth straight outing without allowing an earned run to pick up his MVC-leading seventh win of the season. Petree scattered four hits over 5 1/3 innings before inclement weather forced the suspension of play in Friday’s series opener with Illinois State. The right-hander left the game with a 7-0 lead and extended his string of consecutive innings without giving up an earned run to 43 1/3 frames. Petree has shrugged off an opening-day loss to post wins in seven of his last eight starts and brings the MVC’s lowest ERA into the week. If Petree’s season ended today, his 0.8394 ERA would be the lowest for any Valley pitcher reaching the qualifying minimums in a single season since former SIU Saluki and current Missouri State pitching coach Paul Evans posted an 0.8385 mark in 1979.
CHASING THE TRIPLE CROWN
Chris Serritella has a chance to become the MVC’s first triple crown winner in 13 years. He enters the week leading the league in batting average (.384) and home runs (9). He is three shy of the conference lead in RBI. The last player to win the triple crown in the MVC was Missouri State’s Matt Cepicky in 1999. He hit .414 with 30 home runs and 100 RBI.
YOUNG GUN GOING YARD
Freshman Casey Gillaspie homered three times in five games this week to give him eight on the season. The eight home runs by a freshman is tied for ninth in the Shocker record books with Kurt Bradbury (1978). It is the most home runs hit by a freshman since Eric Wedge hit 11 in 1987. The freshman record is 19 set by Joe Carter in 1979.
This week's Missouri Valley Conference Baseball Player and Pitcher of the Week are Wichita State's Dayne Parker and Evansville's Cole Isom, respectively.
MISSOURI VALLEY CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Dayne Parker, So., INF, Wichita State
Parker went 9-for-22 (.409) with eight runs, four doubles, two home runs and four RBI in five games last week. He had a hit in all five games to extend his hitting streak to six games. At Kansas on Tuesday, he went 1-for-4 with a run and two RBI and hit his first careerhome run. On Wednesday against KU, he went 2-for-4 with two RBI and a double and in game on at Evansville, he went 1-for-4 with an RBI and his second home run of the week. In game two against the Aces, he went 1-for-4 with a run, an RBI and a double and in game three, he went 4-for-6 with three runs and two doubles. He had an extra base hit in every game last week and had a slugging percentage of .864. He also had a perfect fielding percentage in 24 total chances at shortstop and second base.
MISSOURI VALLEY CONFERENCE CO-PITCHERS OF THE WEEK
Cole Isom, So., LHP, Evansville
Isom’s three-hit, complete-game gem steered Evansville to a 4-1 victory over Wichita State Friday evening at Braun Stadium and set up the Aces for their first series win over the Shockers since 2006. The southpaw struck out a career-high 11 batters in his first Valley victory of the season and did not allow a hit until the seventh inning. Isom also had a shutout into the ninth, giving up just a solo shot. In his ninth season appearance, Isom held the Shockers to a .094 batting average and lowered his season earned run average to 3.75.
Noteworthy - In addition to the league's player and pitcher of the week selections, several conference players had notable performances, and they include:
Mike Gerber (CU) - Gerber had an outstanding week at the plate last week, leading Creighton offensively with a .500 overall average in the three games last week. Gerber picked up five hits, three for extra bases (two doubles and a triple) en route to a .900 slugging percentage on the week. The sophomore outfielder picked up three of Creighton's seven hits in the weekend opener against South Dakota State. Gerber also scored a run and drove in three in games last week. Gerber improved his overall batting average 35 points on the week, now sitting at .211 overall. He is third on the team with seven doubles and tied for the team-lead with a pair of home runs.
Kyle Pollock (UE) -Pollock extended his hitting streak to 11 games, the longest of any Ace this spring, leading Evansville to their first series win over Wichita State since 2006. On the week, Pollock hit .400 as the designated hitter with a .667 slugging percentage. In UE’s Friday night victory, Pollock hit a team-best 2-for-2 and scored what would be the winning run in the fourth inning. The Clinton, Ohio native kept his hitting streak intact in the series clincher with a single in the first inning, and recorded his second home run of the season, finishing with two hits in the series finale game with the Shockers. Pollock elevated his batting average in Valley play to .333 and a team-high .309 on the season.
Chad Hinshaw (ILS) - Hinshaw amassed a .706 on-base percentage during Illinois State’s three games last week against Northern Illinois and Missouri State. He batted .500 and slugged 1.300 with five hits, including two home runs and two doubles. Hinshaw also collect a team-best eight RBI, and he walked a team-high six times. The junior from Bloomington, Ill., was also 1-for-1 in stolen bases. Hinshaw set career highs with two home runs, seven RBI, four runs scored, three hits and one double during Illinois State’s win at Northern Illinois Tuesday. Hinshaw leads the Redbirds and the Missouri Valley Confernce with a .508 on-base percentage, and he has stolen a team-high 17 bases in 18 attempts.
Jeremy Lucas (INS) - Lucas hit .500 (5-for-10) in ISU’s weekend series win at Bradley, totaling three doubles and one home run with five runs scored. Lucas tallied an extra-base hit in all the games of the series, reaching base in his final eight trips to the plate on Saturday and Sunday. For the weekend, the ISU junior totaled a 1.100 slugging percentage and a .667 on-base percentage while leading the team to their fourth straight series win.
Spiker Helms (MSU) - Helms was the Bears’ top run-producer in a 3-0 week for Missouri State that included a midweek victory over Kansas State and a two-game MVC series sweep of Illinois State. Helms, who hit .357 and slugged a team-high .643 for the week, went 5-for-11 and drove in five runs to lead a resurgent MSU attack that tallied 24 runs on 35 hits in its rain-shortened series with ISU over the weekend. The Washington, Mo., native went 2-for-5 with a run scored and pair of RBIs to spark the Bears’ 20-hit attack in Friday’s opener, a 14-4 win in which MSU set establish a new season standard for runs scored while piling up their highest single-game hit total in over three years. Helms was even better in Saturday’s game, going 3-for-6 with a double, two runs scored and a crucial three-run homer that highlighted the Bears’ five-run second inning that ultimately led to a 10-4 victory. Helms played the role of catalyst in MSU’s win over K-State on Wednesday as well, drawing a walk and swiping a pair of bags to establish a new single-game career high for steals.
Chris Serritella (SIU) - Serritella posted a .706 slugging percentage with three extra-base hits and 12 total bases. He hit a pair of home runs to retake the conference lead with nine long balls on the year. He also moved into a sixth place on SIU’s career home run list and into 10th place on the school’s career RBI list. His home run in Friday night’s game at Dallas Baptist tied the game in the top of the sixth inning after SIU had surrendered a four-run lead in the bottom of the fifth. His home run in Sunday afternoon’s game gave SIU its first lead of the game.
Joe Bircher (BU) - Bircher set Bradley’s career strikeouts record by fanning seven Indiana State hitters in 7+ innings Friday night at O’Brien Field. Bircher pushed his career total to 264, eclipsing the record 261 strikeouts by Wyman Carey from 1957-59. Bircher took a 3-hit shutout into the eighth inning and ended his evening allowing two runs, one earned, on four hits with seven strikeouts and three walks.
Chase Webb (CU) - Webb has turned into one of the top pitchers in the Bluejay bullpen this season, again putting up strong numbers in three appearances last week. The senior held a 0.00 ERA in 4.1 innings of work, surrendering just three hits while striking out five batters. Webb held opponents to a .200 average against. On the season, Webb holds a 2.25 ERA and a 1-0 record in 16 appearances. He is holding opponents to a .183 batting average against while surrendering just six earned runs in 4.0 innings of work.
Ryan Torgerson (INS) - Torgerson picked up his team-leading third win in conference play on Sunday, tossing all seven innings of ISU’s 14-3 victory over Bradley. Torgerson scattered seven hits in his complete game on the mound, striking out three batters to lead ISU to the series win. This season, Torgerson leads the team with six wins, placing third on the team with a 2.81 ERA.
Tyler Burgess (MSU) - Burgess continued his storybook debut season as a Bear this past week, notching a pair of key saves as part of a 3-0 week for Missouri State. On Wednesday, Burgess combined with three other MSU pitchers on a 3-0 shutout of a Kansas State club that entered the week with a .296 team batting mark, recording three of the final four outs of the contest via strikeout to match a career high. The left-hander then closed out a 10-4 MSU win that completed a two-game sweep of Illinois State with a career-long 3 1/3 inning stint on Saturday. Burgess entered the game with the tying run on base in the top of the sixth and gave the Bears all they needed in establishing a new Missouri State freshman record with his eighth save of the season.
Sam Coonrod (SIU) - Making the first road start of his career, freshman Sam Coonrod held hot-hitting Dallas Baptist to two runs and five hits in six innings of work. He was in line for the victory until Dallas Baptist made a seventh inning comeback. Coonrod allowed just two hits in his last four innings of work and no hits in his final two innings to keep the game tied at 2-2 before SIU rallied to take the lead in the top of the seventh.
TJ McGreevy (WSU) - McGreevy made three relief appearances last week for the Shockers. He pitched 6.1 shutout innings and allowed three hits with two strikeouts. On Tuesday, he pitched two shutout innings at Kansas and allowed just one hit with two strikeouts as the Shockers won in 16 innings. In game one at Evansville, he pitched one shutout inning and in game three against the Aces, he earned the win as he pitched 3.1 shutout innings.
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).
AGAINST THE BIG DOGS
Against the six BCS conferences, the Valley holds a winning record over three (Big 12, Big East and SEC).
The MVC holds a 3-3 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, were winners of 10 consecutive regular-season championships from 1991-2000 and also won three straight titles from 1987-89.
NON-CON NEVER BELOW .500
The Missouri Valley Conference boasts a 132-73-1 (.643) in non-conference action (through games of Sunday, Apr. 15), which currently ranks seventh 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 132-73-1 (.643) +59
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)