Baseball Weekly Notebook (Apr. 23)
IT'S ALL DOWNHILL FROM HERE
With four league weeks in the books Missouri State (8-3 MVC) has taken a half-game lead heading into the final three weeks of the regular season. Indiana State and Southern Illinois, tied for second place in the league standings, sit in prime position at 8-4 in Valley play.
Evansville (6-6 MVC) and Wichita State (6-6 MVC) are at an even .500 at the midway point of league play.
Bradley (5-7 MVC) and Illinois State (4-7 MVC) exchanged blows last weekend, with the Redbirds taking the final two games of the series, while Creighton (2-10 MVC) hopes to get back on the winning track this weekend as the Bluejays return to their home field for MVC play.
BATTLE OF THE BIG STICKS
League-leading Missouri State will host Southern Illinois this weekend, in a Valley series that looms large in the ranks of the MVC standings. The Bears (.324) and Salukis (.307) boast the league's top-two team batting averages in Valley action.
This weekend's Missouri State vs. Southern Illinois matchup will feature eight of the top-10 batting averages in the league.
In Valley action, the Salukis boast four top-10 hitters, including Rennie Troggio (1st, .486), Brock Harding (3rd, .432), Chris Serritella (6th, .375) and Jordan Sivertsen (7th, .367).
The Bears also have four players in the league's top-10 batting averages, in Brent Seifert (5th, .395), Kevin Medrano (T-8th, .362), Spiker Helms (T-8th, .362) and Brock Chaffin (10th (.343).
PATRIOTIC SERIES VICTORY
Indiana State became the MVC first team this season to win a series with Dallas Baptist, as the Sycamores took two out of three games from the Patriots. Dallas Baptist (27-12) currently ranks No. 34 in the RPI, as the Patriots are coming off a NCAA Regional championship last season.
WINNING IN WICHITA
Missouri State claimed its first-ever regular-season series win in Wichita over the weekend, taking the first two contests of its series with the Shockers before falling, 3-2, in Sunday’s finale. The Bears, just 12-38 all-time against Wichita State on its home field, also posted their first road shutout against the Shockers with Friday’s 6-0 victory.
FOUR IN RPI'S TOP-70
According to the latest RPI update from WarrenNolan.com (Apr. 23), four Missouri Valley Conference teams are in the RPI's top-70. Missouri State leads the way at No. 35, followed by Indiana State (No. 47), Illinois State (No. 56) and Wichita State (No. 69).
VALLEY RPI RANKS No. 8
According to the latest RPI update from WarrenNolan.com (Apr. 23), the Missouri Valley Conference ranks No. 8 amongst 32 leagues. Three 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. 23), 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.
FOUR IN NPI'S TOP-70
According to the latest NPI update from WarrenNolan.com (Apr. 23), four 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. 36) and Bradley (No. 62).
Indiana State has put together seven series wins this season, totalling 31 overall victories, which ties for eighth best in the nation.
Most Wins This Season
1. Kentucky 35-6
2. Baylor 35-7
3. UCF 34-8
4. Army 33-9
5. Florida State 32-7
6. Campbell 32-10
7. Liberty 32-12
T8. Florida 31-9
T8. LSU 31-9
T8. San Diego 31-9
T8. Indiana State 31-10
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 third in the nation, and have scored double-digit runs in 10 games this season. The Sycamores are plating 7.0 runs/game, which ranks 19th in the nation, and have scored double-digit runs 14 times in 2012.
Offense-Runs Per Game
1. New Mexico State 9.4
2. Utah Valley 8.5
T3. Illinois State 7.9
T3. Appalachian State 7.9
T3. Campbell 7.9
6. Arkansas-Little Rock 7.7
T7. Nebraska 7.6
T7. Louisville 7.6
T9. Hofstra 7.4
T9. North Carolina State 7.4
T11. Kentucky 7.3
T11. Purdue 7.3
T13. Virginia 7.2
T13. Stanford 7.2
T13. Liberty 7.2
T16. UCF 7.1
T16. Texas-Pan American 7.1
T16. Austin Peay 7.1
T19. Indiana State 7.0
T19. Florida State 7.0
FEW AND FAR BETWEEN
Missouri State has been holding its opponents to a stingy 3.1 runs per game, which ranks second 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
1. Stony Brook 2.9
2. Missouri State 3.1
3. Rice 3.2
T4. Portland 3.3
T4. South Carolina 3.3
T4. Army 3.3
T7. Arkansas 3.4
T7. Florida 3.4
T7. Maryland 3.4
10. Liberty 3.5
Indiana State ranks 13th in the nation in scoring margin, winning by an average of 3.1 runs per game. In fact, of the Sycamores 10 losses, six of them have been by just one run.
1. Campbell +4.2
2. Liberty +3.8
3. Appalachian State +3.6
T4. New Mexico State +3.5
T4. Stony Brook +3.5
T4. Louisville +3.5
T4. Kentucky +3.5
T4. Utah Valley +3.5
T9. North Carolina State +3.4
T9. Purdue +3.4
T11. Stanford +3.2
T11. UCF +3.2
13. Indiana State +3.1
Indiana State and Missouri State, who combine for just 21 losses so far this season, have kept it close in nearly every game played. Fifteen of the 21 setbacks between the Sycamores and Bears have come by two or fewer runs.
Indiana State has lost six contests by just one run, while Missouri State has fallen in seven 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 10 losses have come by two or fewer runs (.700), while nine of Missouri State's 12 losses have come by two or fewer runs (.750).
This week's Missouri Valley Conference Baseball Player and Pitcher of the Week are Illinois State's Ty Wiesemeyer and Southern Illinois' Cody Forsythe, respectively.
MISSOURI VALLEY CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Ty Wiesemeyer, Sr., OF, Illinois State
Wiesemeyer led Illinois State with a .471 batting average, a .824 slugging percentage and a .526 on-base percentage last week in four games against in-state rivals Illinois and Bradley. He collected a team-high 10 RBI, with three extra-base hits, including a grand slam, a triple and a double. Wiesemeyer also scored four runs and drew two walks. The senior from Troy, Ill., led Illinois State with a 2-for-4 effort, including a RBI and run scored at Illinois, and he went 2-for-3 Friday versus Bradley. Wiesemeyer was the hero in Saturday’s win against the Braves, as he hit a grand slam in the fourth inning to lift the Redbirds to a 12-3 win. In Sunday’s season finale, he tripled-home three runs to help Illinois State gain the early lead. Wiesmeyer is now batting 6-for-10 with the bases loaded this season, and he leads the team with a .367 average, including a team-best four triples. He is also riding a team-best eight-game hitting streak and an 11-game on-base streak.
MISSOURI VALLEY CONFERENCE CO-PITCHERS OF THE WEEK
Cody Forsythe, Jr., LHP, Southern Illinois
In one of the most dominating performances of his career, Cody Forsythe tossed the Salukis’ first complete game shutout since 2008. Forsythe scattered four singles and a double in Saturday’s 4-0 win over Creighton. Only four runners reached second base and no Jays reached third base in the game. Forsythe also struck out five batters. He retired seven of the last eight and 12 of the last 14 batters of the game. It was his fourth career complete game and lowered his ERA to 1.16 in four conference starts.
Noteworthy - In addition to the league's player and pitcher of the week selections, several conference players had notable performances, and they include:
Max Murphy (BU) - Murphy extended his hitting streak to 10 games by going 6-for-15 (.400) with a triple and three home runs in Bradley’s four games last week. Murphy was 2-for-4 with a home run in Wednesday’s 7-3 win at Iowa and followed with a home run and four RBI’s in Friday’s 13-2 win at Illinois State. On base in every game this season, the streak nearly ended in Saturday’s 12-3 loss to Illinois State, but Murphy extended the streak with an eighth-inning single, then homered and tripled in Sunday’s series finale against the Redbirds. The freshman outfielder leads the Braves with a .351 batting average, eight home runs, a .626 slugging percentage, a .438 on-base percentage and seven stolen bases and he is second with 31 RBI’s.
Trentt Copeland (UE) - Hitting .412 on the week with a team-best .588 slugging percentage, senior Trentt Copeland recorded multiple hits in three of UE’s four games, including a double in each of those contests. Copeland went 2-for-5 with a double and run scored in UE’s 10-2 win over SIUE. In the Aces’ walk-off 11-inning Friday night victory over Dayton, Copeland went 3-for-5 with a double and run scored, and in the last game of the series, he went 2-for-4 with a double and RBI. The Guelph, Ontario native now has 55 career doubles, ranking him sixth all-time at UE. Copeland also recorded a perfect fielding percentage at second base last week with seven assists and 19 putouts.
Jeremy Lucas (INS) - Lucas led ISU with six hits this past week, hitting .375 at the plate with a pair of doubles. Lucas reached base five times in ISU’s 16-inning win over Valparaiso on Tuesday, going 2-for-5 with one run scored. The junior catcher topped the roster with four hits over the weekend with Dallas Baptist, as Indiana State won their ninth straight weekend series and snapped the Patriots’ string of seven consecutive series wins. Lucas recorded a hit in all four games last week, extending his hitting streak to a season-high seven games.
Rennie Troggio (SIU) - Troggio hit .615 (8-for-13) with five RBI in the Salukis’ four victories this week. On Saturday the junior drove in the first run of the game in the top of the fifth inning in the Salukis 4-0 win in the first game of a doubleheader sweep of Creighton. In the second game, he scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. He followed that up by driving in SIU’s final three runs of Sunday’s game. That proved to be the difference in a 6-5 win. Troggio also recorded a career-high three hits in Tuesday’s win over Tennessee-Martin. For the week, he was 4-for-5 with runners in scoring position. Troggio also hit two doubles and stole two bases.
Joe Bircher (BU) - Bircher continued his strong season by working a run-shortened, 7-inning complete game in Friday’s 13-2 win at Illinois State. Bircher scattered five hits, allowing two runs while striking out six without walking a batter. After allowing both runs on three hits in the first two innings, Bircher allowed only two more hits in the final five innings.
Ty Blach (CU) - Blach found himself in a pitchers duel in the series opener against Southern Illinois last weekend and the junior responded with another solid outing on the mound. In 7.1 innings, Blach tied his season-high with nine strikeouts while surrendering just a pair of walks. The Salukis pushed across three earned runs on five hits, but Blach held SIU batters to a .192 average against.
Ryan Billo (UE) - Billo led Evansville to a home-and-home series sweep over SIU Edwardsville allowing just one run, five hits, a walk, while striking out five in seven innings of work against the Cougars. Billo held SIUE hitless until the fifth frame en route to his sixth win of the season. Billo also earned the win against SIUE in the first series meeting. On the season, Billo owns a team-best 6-1 record and 2.62 ERA.
Kenny Long (ILS) - Long earned the win in his second-career start by pitching a career-high seven innings and matching his career-best with seven strikeouts to help Illinois State beat Bradley, 12-3, Sunday afternoon, securing the series win for the Redbirds. Long, who typically serves as Illinois State’s closer, allowed three earned runs and just two walks in the starting performance. The Fox River Grove, Ill., native also closed out Saturday’s ISU win against Bradley. He threw one scoreless, hitless inning to finish the game. Long now leads Illinois State with a 1.87 ERA in 19 appearances. The left-hander ranks third on the career appearances list, with 85. He needs just three more to tie the record. He also holds the saves mark with 22.
Ryan Torgerson (INS) - Torgerson turned in his longest outing of the season on Sunday in the deciding game of ISU’s weekend set with Dallas Baptist. Torgerson scattered 11 hits in eight innings, allowing just three runs to the Patriots who had averaged nine runs per game in their previous eight contests against MVC opponents. The junior hurler was consistently in the strike zone, throwing 70 of his 94 pitches for strikes as he picked up his team-leading seventh victory of the season. Torgerson also fielded his position well, starting a pair of double plays as ISU took the rubber match over DBU, 7-5.
Cody Schumacher (MSU) - Schumacher surrendered just five hits and struck out eight batters while walking one in a career-long eight-inning effort Saturday in a 7-2 win at Wichita State. Schumacher recovered from a rough first inning to hold the Shockers scoreless on one hit over his final 7 1/3 innings to help the Bears secure their first-ever regular-season series win in Wichita. Pitching in his home state for the first time as a Bear, Schumacher (5-0) kept his perfect record intact, and Missouri State improved to 10-1 in games in which the junior right-hander has started this season. Additionally, the Bears claimed just their 12th road win in 50 tries in the series.
Kris Gardner (WSU) - Gardner made two starts for the Shockers last week and pitched 12.0 shutout innings with no walks and 10 strikeouts. On April 17 against Oklahoma State, he pitched five shutout innings and allowed just one baserunner in the five innings. He allowed just one hit with no walks and had a career-high six strikeouts in a no decision as the Shockers won the game in the 11th inning. He made his first career Missouri Valley Conference start on Sunday against first-place Missouri State. He pitched seven shutout innings with no walks and four strikeouts. He allowed just five hits in the game and in the seventh inning with runners at second and third with one out, he struck out the next two batters to end the threat. He earned the victory as WSU won the game 3-2. With the win, he improved to 4-1 on the season and lowered his ERA to 2.53.
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 and were winners of 14 consecutive regular-season championships from 1987-2000.
NON-CON NEVER BELOW .500
The Missouri Valley Conference boasts a 140-78-1 (.642) in non-conference action (through games of Sunday, Apr. 23), 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 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)