Baseball Weekly Notebook (Feb. 24)
The Missouri Valley Conference combined for an 18-10 record last week, moving its overall total to 37-15 (.712) in non-conference action.
Indiana State pushed its winning streak to six in-a-row after a perfect 3-0 record last week, while Southern Illinois also finished with an unscathed 3-0 mark last week. Seven of eight league teams have opened the first two weeks of the season with two or fewer losses, and the MVC already has eight wins over 2013 NCAA Tournament teams.
While it is still early in the season, WarrenNolan.com has the Missouri Valley Conference ranked as the No. 1 conference in league RPI. The Valley also boasts the second-best overall winning percentage (.712), behind only the SEC (.740). WarrenNolan.com has five league teams in the RPI's top-40, led by Bradley (No. 14), while Indiana State (No. 15), Illinois State (No. 26), Evansville (No. 31) and Southern Illinois (No. 36) also near the top.
This week's Missouri Valley Conference Baseball Player/Pitcher of the Week are Wichita State's Casey Gillaspie and Missouri State's Jon Harris, respectively.
MISSOURI VALLEY CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Casey Gillaspie, Jr., 1B, Wichita State
Gillaspie hit .688 in four games last week for the Shockers. He went 11-for-16 with five runs, two doubles, one triple, four RBI, six walks, a .938 slugging percentage and a .773 on base percentage. He also had a perfect fielding percentage in 36 total chances. On Tuesday against Central Arkansas, he went 3-for-4 with two RBI, a double and a walk. On Friday against UConn, he went 2-for-4 with a walk and on Saturday against George Mason he went 3-for-5 with two runs, an RBI, a double, a triple and two walks. On Sunday against Coastal Carolina, he went 3-for-3 with three runs, an RBI and two walks. He has had two or more hits in all seven games this season and is currently on a 10-game hitting streak.
MISSOURI VALLEY CONFERENCE PITCHER OF THE WEEK
Jon Harris, So., RHP, Missouri State
Harris turned in a complete-game, five-hit shutout to lift the Bears to an 11-0 victory over Northern Illinois Saturday at the Lobo Invite in Albuquerque. Harris needed just 94 pitches to finish the first nine-inning shutout of his MSU career, fanning four and walking just one NIU batter in a contest that took only two hours and seven minutes to complete. The Florissant, Mo., native permitted just five singles and only three baserunners after the second inning. Harris wrapped up his ninth career victory by retiring the last eight NIU batters he faced in the first complete-game shutout for a Bears pitcher since Nick Petree’s two-hit blanking of Indiana State on March 29, 2013.
Noteworthy - In addition to the league's player and pitcher of the week selections, several conference players had notable performances, and they include:
Shain Showers (UE) – Shain Showers posted a .417 batting average in Evansville’s three-game set at Mercer, as the sophomore infielder went 5-for-12 at the plate with his first homer of the season, two RBI and a stolen base. After an 0-for-4 start to the series, Showers closed the week by going 3-for-4 with a solo homer on Saturday and 2-for-4 with an RBI in Sunday’s series finale.
Joe Kelch (ILS) – Kelch batted .667/.700/.778 and delivered a team-best six RBI as Illinois State won three-of-four games at Arkansas State. Kelch’s two out, two-run pinch hit double erased a 1-0 Illinois State deficit in game one of a doubleheader Saturday. The Redbirds would win, 3-2. In game two, Kelch added three hits, including run-scoring singles in the first inning and seventh inning as Illinois State held off the Red Wolves, 9-7. The East Peoria, Ill., native added two hits and two RBI in Illinois State’s defeat Sunday.
Eric Cheray (MSU) – Cheray turned in a memorable all-around performance in Missouri State’s 3-1 showing at the Lobo Invite in Albuquerque this past weekend, hitting .529 (9-for-17) and slugging 1.235 with a pair of home runs and 9 RBIs. In all, six of Cheray’s nine hits went for extra bases, including an inside-the-park home run in Saturday’s 11-0 win over Northern Illinois and a grand slam that sealed a 6-1 win over host New Mexico later that evening. Cheray started his weekend by matching a career high with four hits to go along with three RBIs in a 9-8 victory over NIU Friday. The Topeka, Kan., product doubled and tripled twice to help the Bears rack up 28 total bases. In game one Saturday, he scored three runs with a double and his first home run of the season, then delivered a another two-hit game and a career-best 4 RBIs in the nightcap against the Lobos with his fifth-inning grand slam that turned a 2-1 lead into a five-run advantage. In Sunday’s tournament finale, Cheray added another hit in four trips to the plate against UNM, and finished the week with a perfect fielding percentage in 22 defensive chances, including three double plays.
Cody Daily (SIU) – Daily helped SIU to a perfect 3-0 record this past week and led the offensive attack with a .545 batting average and a .688 on-base percentage for the week. On Tuesday against Austin Peay, he reached base safely all six times he came to the plate and scored a career-high four runs. In that game, his seventh-inning home run sparked a late onslaught that turned a one-run game into a 14-4 blowout victory. He scored three of SIU’s nine runs in the final three innings of the game. Daily added two more hits and reached base four of the five times he batted in Saturday’s 11-inning win over Nicholls State.
Matt Dennis (BU) – Dennis improved to 2-0 with his second extra-innings victory in as many appearances to start the season, tossing the final 4.0 innings of Bradley’s 9-4, 12-innings win Saturday at Austin Peay. Dennis entered to start the ninth inning of a 4-4 game and he retired the first five hitters he faced. He did not allow a hit in his 4.0 scoreless innings, while striking out eight. For the season, Dennis now is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in his two appearances. He has allowed only one hit in 6.0 innings with 10 strikeouts.
Paul Voelker (DBU) – Voelker earned his second win of the year, tossing a career-high seven innings and allowing just one run at Sam Houston State (7-1) on February 21. Voelker struck out a career-high six batters, while allowing just one walk. With the win, Voelker helped lift the Patriots to their first 5-0 start since the 2003 season.
Alex Gould (UE) – Gould made his collegiate pitching debut Saturday at Mercer, as the sophomore righty tossed a pair of scoreless innings and notched a pair of strikeouts in relief, holding Mercer to a .143 batting average in his two frames.
Dylan Craig (ILS) – Craig secured his first win of the season Saturday, as Illinois State defeated Arkansas State 3-2 in game one of a doubleheader in Jonesboro, Ark. Craig (1-0) allowed one earned run on four hits over six innings of work. The lefty struck out four and walked four in the win. Illinois State earned a non-conference series win at Arkansas State and won three-of-four games versus the Red Wolves.
A.J. Ladwig (WSU) – Ladwig threw six shutout innings on Friday against UConn. He allowed just six singles with one walk and five strikeouts in the no decision. So far this season, Ladwig has pitched 11.2 innings with a 0.00 ERA and one walk and 11 strikeouts.