Baseball Weekly Notebook (Mar. 3)
Monday, March 3, 2014
Baseball Weekly Notebook (Mar. 3)

The Missouri Valley Conference continues to impress, combining for a 21-16 record last week, moving its overall total to 58-21 (.734) in non-conference action.

The Missouri Valley Conference currently boasts the best overall winning percentage (.734) of the 32 conferences, and the SEC (.708) is the only other league with a percentage above .700. According to this week's RPI ratings, as a conference the Valley ranks No. 3, behind only the Big 12 and the SEC. The MVC is also the only league in which all of its members have at least a .600 record thus far.
Indiana State pushed its winning streak to nine in-a-row, its fourth longest streak in program history, and the Sycamores are one of just 15 teams in NCAA Division I to have lost one or fewer games. Indiana State also holds the league's top RPI position, coming in at No. 14 this week.

All eight league schools finished with one or fewer losses last week, and the MVC already has 11 wins over 2013 NCAA Tournament teams, including its first in as many tries over a ranked opponent (Evansville topped No. 4 Vanderbilt, 8-3).

This week's Missouri Valley Conference Baseball Player/Pitcher of the Week are Bradley's Max Murphy and Evansville's Kyle Freeland, respectively.

Max Murphy, Jr., OF, Bradley
Murphy helped the Braves to a 2-1 showing at Austin Peay’s Riverview Inn Classic by batting .500 (6-12) with six runs scored and six runs batted in during the three games. In Saturday’s 11-5, come-from-behind win against Dayton, Murphy hit three home runs to tie the single-game school records for both home runs and total bases (12). He hit three-fourths of the home run cycle by launching a 2-run blast in the first inning, a solo shot in the third and a 3-run home run in the ninth. Murphy became the fifth player in Bradley history to hit three home runs and total 12 bases in a single game and the first since Chad Johnson in 1998. Murphy started the weekend round-robin by going 1-for-3 with a walk and two hit-by-pitches in the 15-5 win against Xavier and ended the weekend by going 2-for-4 with another hit by pitch against Austin Peay. In the three games, Murphy reached base safely in 10-of-16 plate appearances. Murphy was also honored by the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper as a Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week for his performance last week. 

Kyle Freeland, Jr., LHP, Evansville

Freeland turned in a stellar performance on the mound Friday night in a no decision against Western Illinois, as the preseason all-American hurled 9.0 innings of scoreless ball, allowing just two hits and striking out nine without walking a batter. The junior lefty carried a no hitter into the seventh, before WIU’s Neil DeCook broke up the no-hit bid with a one-out single and Chris Tschida tallied the Leathernecks only other hit against Freeland with a two-out single in the ninth. On the season, the Denver, Colo., native has notched 20 strikeouts against just one walk and is holing opposing hitters to a .209 batting average. 

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

Mike Wesolowski (DBU) – Wesolowski hit a team-leading .474 in the Patriots’ four wins this week. Wesolowski sparked a comeback win on Tuesday at UT-San Antonio with a solo homerun in the fifth inning. On Saturday, his two-run double in the eight versus Penn, completed DBU’s third come from behind win of the week. In four games, the Mesa, Arizona, native led the club in hits (9), runs (8), RBI (6), total bases (14), and slugging percentage (.737). Wesolowski also extended his hitting streak to seven straight games and has now reached base safely in all 11 games this year.

Jake Mahon (UE) – Mahon was one of the few bright spots for an Evansville offense that hit just .173 as a squad in four games this week. The senior catcher/infielder posted a .385 batting average, going 5-for-13 with a double for the week and scored three of the Purple Aces’ runs in their 8-3 win at No. 4 Vanderbilt. Mahon also drew four walks and was hit by a pitch to record a .556 on-base percentage.

Paul DeJong (ILS) – DeJong helped guide Illinois State to a 2-1 weekend by batting .444/.545/.444 with one RBI and one stolen base. DeJong collected a run-scoring single to plate Cody Voelker as Illinois State topped North Dakota, 5-1, Friday night in Conway, Ark.    

Eric Cheray (MSU) – Cheray continued his early-season roll last week hitting .500 (5-for-10) in helping the Bears take two of their three games. The Topeka, Kan., native walked and singled home a run in MSU’s 3-2 win over Oral Roberts Tuesday before posting back-to-back two-hit games over the weekend at the Bourland-Ardoin Classic in Abilene. Cheray capped off the week by reaching base safely in six of his nine trips to the plate in the four-team classic, scoring a pair of runs and driving in two more with a 2-for-3 night in a 12-0 rout of Abilene Christian Friday. He also went 2-for-3 with a double and a walk against Kansas State to stretch his MSU season-best hit streak to seven games.

Parker Osborne (SIU) – Osborne hit .357 in four games this past week and helped led the Salukis to three wins. The junior recorded a .971 OPS along with a pair of multi-hit games and played flawless defense in centerfield and leftfield. In the ninth inning of the finale of Saturday’s doubleheader against Northern Illinois, he dove over the wall in foul territory to make an unbelievable catch with the tying run at the plate.

Daniel Kihle (WSU) – Kihle led the Shockers to a 2-1 week with wins over Coastal Carolina and Long Beach State. Kihle went 6-for-12 with three runs, one home run and three RBI. On Monday at Coastal Carolina, he went 2-for-5 with a run and an RBI. In game one against Long Beach State, he went 3-for-5 with two runs, two RBI and a home run. His walk off single in the bottom of the ninth gave the Shockers the 5-4 win. The two runs, three hits and two RBI all tied his career-high. In game two against the Dirtbags, he went 1-for-2 to extend his career-best hitting streak to eight games.

Joseph Shaw (UE) – Shaw earned the first win of his career after tossing 4.2 innings of shutout relief at UT-San Antonio on Tuesday. Shaw came out of the bullpen in the eighth inning and did not allow a run, while striking out a career-high nine batters. The Patriots’ closer allowed just two hits and walked one in the dramatic 6-5 win in 12 innings.  

Dan Savas (ILS) – Savas allowed an unearned run in eight innings of work, guiding Illinois State to a 5-1 victory of North Dakota Friday night in Conway, Ark. The right-hander tallied a season-best eight strikeouts and walked two, scattering five hits in the win. Savas worked out of trouble early, stranding five base runners over the first two innings, and eventually retired eight-consecutive UND batters. The Rosemont, Ill., native went 10-0 for Illinois State last spring and has won all three of his starts this season.

Cody Schumacher (MSU) – Schumacher turned in seven shutout innings to lift the Bears to a 12-0 victory over host Abilene Christian Friday at the Bourland-Ardoin Classic in Abilene, Texas. Schumacher, who improved to 3-0 on the season, held the Wildcats to five hits and a pair of walks while striking out eight--a season high for a Bears pitcher. The Topeka, Kan., product also extended his personal scoreless streak to 16.1 consecutive innings dating back to opening day after retiring 11 ACU hitters in a row at one point.

Aaron Hauge (SIU) – Hauge was nearly unhittable in six scoreless innings against Northern Illinois in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader. In his second career start, he scattered a pair of singles and struck out six, lifting SIU to a 2-1 victory and earning his first Division I win. Hauge set the tone by striking out the first two batters of the game. He went on to retire the first six batters in order and retire 13 of the first 15 batters of the game. The junior only once allowed a runner past first base in the game.

Cale Elam (WSU) – Elam earned the win on Monday at Coastal Carolina. He pitched 6.1 shutout innings and allowed just three singles with no walks and seven strikeouts. He allowed just one runner to reach third base and two of the three hits he allowed were infield singles. He earned his first win of the season and lowered his ERA to 0.79.