Indiana State (14-7 MVC) earned the top seed at the State Farm MVC Baseball Tournament, as the Sycamores claimed their fourth regular-season title (first since 1985), and their first outright title in program history.
Preseason favorite Missouri State (13-7 MVC) claimed the No. 2 seed after a 2-1 series victory at Indiana State in its final weekend, while Wichita State (12-9 MVC) is the No. 3 seed.
Illinois State (10-9 MVC) is the No. 4 seed and will square off with fifth-seeded Evansville (10-11 MVC).
Southern Illinois (9-12 MVC) claimed the No. 6 seed, while Bradley (8-13 MVC) and Creighton (6-14 MVC) are the seventh and eighth seeds, respectively.
MISSOURI STATE TO HOST
Missouri State will serve as host for the 2012 State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Baseball Championship for the third time in school history, from May 22-26. The 2012 event will take place at Hammons Field, a 8,000-seat, natural grass stadium, which also serves as the home of the St. Louis Cardinals AA affiliate, the Springfield Cardinals.
TOURNAMENT TOP DOG
Wichita State boasts 97 MVC Tournament wins, the most in the league, and the Shockers also hold the league’s top winning percentage (.691) in tournament play. Just one other team – Indiana State – holds an overall winning record in the MVC Tournament (61-47, .565).
Tournament Record, Winning Percentage
Bradley 44-64 .407
Creighton 48-53-1 .475
Evansville 20-25 .444
Illinois State 17-33 .340
Indiana State 61-47 .565
Missouri State 33-38 .465
Southern Illinois 48-52 .480
Wichita State 97-43-1 .691
INDIANA STATE AS THE TOP SEED
Indiana State is the State Farm MVC Baseball Tournament’s top seed for the first time in school history. The Sycamores have won the tournament six times previously, including three times at the No. 2 seed, and once each from the No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 seeds.
TOP TWO SEEDS DOMINATE
If history is any indication, being the No. 1 seed has its benefits as more MVC Tournament champions (15) have come from the top spot than any other seed dating back to 1981. The No. 2 seed has claimed nine tournament titles, while no other seed has won more than three championships.
The lowest seed to ever win the tournament was the sixth seed, in 1994 by Illinois State.
Seed - Tournament Championships
No. 1 - 15
No. 2 - 9
No. 3 - 3
No. 4 - 1
No. 5 - 2
No. 6 - 1
Creighton looks to defend its title at the 2012 State Farm MVC Baseball Championship for the first time ever. Teams have won back-to-back titles seven times in league history, including two three-peats and one four-peat – Indiana State (83-84); Wichita State (87-88; 91-92-93; 98-99-00; 02-03-04-05; 08-09); Missouri State (96-97).
WATCH THE TOURNAMENT
Every game of this year’s State Farm MVC Tournament will be available on the air. ESPN3 (www.espn3.com) will carry the first 14 games of the tournament and Fox Sports Midwest will televise the tournament final on Saturday, May 26 at 7 p.m.
Five Missouri Valley Conference teams – Evansville, Illinois State, Indiana State, Missouri State and Wichita State – have passed the 30-win threshold, marking the sixth-straight season in which at least four MVC teams have reached 30 wins.
Southern Illinois and Bradley can join the 30-win club with two and four victories, respectively, at this week’s State Farm MVC Baseball Championship.
TEAMS WITH 10 LEAGUE WINS
For just the fourth time in league history (and third consecutive) when only eight teams sponsored baseball, at least five of those eight teams registered a minimum of 10 conference wins. Five teams also won 10+ Valley games in 1993, 2010 and 2011.
HOST TEAM SUCCESS
Dating back to 1981, host institutions have been the tournament champion 14 times in 31 years, most recently last season (Creighton), while they have been the tournament runner-up an additional six times. Wichita State and Creighton are the only tournament hosts to have ever won at their home fields.
FOUR IN RPI's TOP-60
According to the latest RPI update from WarrenNolan.com (May 20), four Missouri Valley Conference teams remain in the RPI's top-60. Missouri State leads the way at No. 37, followed by Indiana State (No. 41), Wichita State (No. 44) and Illinois State (No. 52).
VALLEY RPI RANKS No. 6
According to the latest RPI update from WarrenNolan.com (May 20), the Missouri Valley Conference holds steady at the No. 6 position amongst 32 leagues. Four BCS conferences (ACC, SEC, Pac-12 and Big 12) hold the top four positions, while Conference USA is the only non-BCS league ahead of the MVC.
VALLEY NPI RANKS No. 4
According to the latest Nolan Power Index (NPI) update (May 20), the Missouri Valley Conference hangs onto the No. 4 position 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-100
According to the latest NPI from WarrenNolan.com (May 20), five league teams are in the top-100. Indiana State leads the way at No. 13, followed by Missouri State (No. 25), Illinois State (No. 31), Wichita State (No. 58) and Evansville (No. 99).
The Valley has a combined 28-19 (.596) record against the three "Big" BCS conferences, including a 14-3 mark against the Big 12, a 2-1 record against the Big East and a 12-15 tally against the Big Ten. In fact, MVC schools have compiled a 29-23 (.558) record against the six BCS conferences this season.
This week's Missouri Valley Conference Baseball Player and Pitcher of the Week are Wichita State's Johnny Coy and Missouri State's Pierce Johnson, respectively.
MISSOURI VALLEY CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Johnny Coy, Jr., DH, Wichita State
Coy led the Shockers to a 3-1 week including a road win at Nebraska and a road series win at Creighton. He went 11-for-18 (.611) with five runs, three doubles, one home run and six RBI. He had a .944 slugging percentage for the week along with a .611 on base percentage. At Nebraska, he went 5-for-5 with two runs, five RBI, a double and a home run in the Shockers 13-2 win. It was his second 5-for-5 game this month and the five hits tied his career-high. He is the first Shocker to have two five-hit games in a season since 1996. In game one against CU, he went 2-for-4 with an RBI and in game three against the Bluejays he went 4-for-5 with three runs and two doubles. On the season, he is now batting .352 with 17 doubles, nine home runs and 62 RBI.
MISSOURI VALLEY CONFERENCE CO-PITCHERS OF THE WEEK
Pierce Johnson, Jr., RHP, Missouri State
Johnson held Indiana State to four hits while striking out six Sycamores over eight shutout innings in the Bears’ series-clinching victory over the regular-season MVC champs Sunday. The right-hander retired nine of the last 10 batters he faced before handing the ball off to Tyler Burgess, who completed MSU’s school-record 10th shutout of the season with a scoreless ninth. Johnson became the eighth Bear to surpass the 100-strikeout mark in a season and concluded the regular season having allowed just one run over his last 17.2 innings.
Noteworthy - In addition to the league's player and pitcher of the week selections, several conference players had notable performances, and they include:
Jake Mahon (UE) - Mahon led Evansville with a .412 batting average, five runs batted in, and a .588 slugging percentage on the week, as he recorded a hit in each of UE’s four games and finished the regular season with two multi-hit performances. Mahon gapped his 10th double of the season at Indiana University and in Saturday’s game vs. Illinois State, Mahon went 2-for-4 and drove home UE’s third run of the game that proved to be imperative as the Aces went on to beat the Redbirds, 3-2. In the rubber match, Mahon recorded his first career three-hit game in Valley play, going 3-for-6 with three RBI and a run scored. He also knocked his first career triple in the contest, driving in three with the bases loaded. Heading into the tournament, Mahon raised his average to .274 with a team-high 40 RBI and league-high 18 hit by pitches.
Mike Hollenbeck (ILS) - Hollenbeck went 4-for-10 (.400) to lead Illinois State to a 2-1 series win at Evansville. Hollenbeck collected a team-best five RBI during the three-game set, with two runs scored. The Joliet, Ill., native slugged .400 and amassed a .571 on-base percentage, plus he walked four times. Hollenbeck keyed ISU’s series-opener Thursday with a 2-for-3 effort, including two RBI and one run scored. He also led the Redbirds in their victory Saturday with a 2-for-5 performance, including three RBI and one run.
Lucas Hileman (INS) - Hileman hit .333 at the plate last week, going 5-for-15 with a triple and a pair of RBIs. In ISU’s win on Thursday to clinch the regular season championship, Hileman went 3-for-5 with a stolen base and the go-ahead RBI in sixth inning to break a tie game. On Friday, the ISU senior picked up his team-leading 10th outfield assist of the season, throwing out a runner at third base.
Kevin Medrano (MSU) - Medrano led a resurgent Missouri State offense with a .500 batting average in the Bears’ road series win over MVC champ Indiana State this past weekend. The senior second baseman posted back-to-back three-hit games in a pair of MSU victories over the Sycamores, helping the Bears pound ISU pitchers for 28 hits altogether in the two contests. The Lee’s Summit, Mo., native registered hits in three of his first four at-bats in Sunday’s 5-0 series-clinching win, including the 300th of his Missouri State career to spark a two-run, seventh-inning rally for the Bears. Medrano needs to collect just 16 more safeties to match Matt Gardner’s MSU career hits record.
Jake Welch (SIU) - Welch hit .412 (7-for-17) in four games for the Salukis this week. The sophomore second baseman recorded two three-hit games this weekend against IPFW. He drove in a career-high four runs on Thursday then drove in three more runs on Saturday. The Salukis leadoff hitter recorded a pair of triples and stole two bases in two attempts as well.
Ty Blach (CU) - Blach finished the final week of regular season play with a 7.0 inning outing against Wichita State, surrendering just three hits and striking out three batters in Creighton’s 7-2 win on Thursday night. The southpaw retired the final 15 batters he faced in order, not allowing a Shocker batter to reach from the third inning on. He held the Shockers to a .120 average against in his lone appearance of the week.
Kyle Lloyd (UE) - Lloyd (5-3, 2-0 MVC) held the MVC’s top-hitting team, Illinois State, scoreless through seven innings of work on the mound and to a .091 batting average. Lloyd limited the Redbirds to just two hits, three walks, while striking out four, as he did not allow a runner past first base in the outing and held ISU hitless in his final four and a third frames. Lloyd enters the conference tournament with a team-best 2-0 record and 2.09 ERA in MVC contests, earning wins in his last two outings.
Jeremy Rhoades (ILS) - Rhoades did not allow an earned run in two relief appearances during Illinois State’s 12-inning, 2-1 series win at Evansville. Rhoades earned the victory in Saturday’s series finale. The freshman left-hander threw the final five shutout innings, with one strikeout, to help the Redbirds hold on to beat the Purple Aces in the 12th. Rhoades also pitched the final 1.1 scoreless, hitless innings versus Evansville on Friday. Rhoades now has a 4-3 record and a 4.65 ERA with 29 strikeouts.
Dakota Bacus (INS) - Bacus led ISU to their fourth MVC championship in school history and first since 1985, throwing a complete game on Thursday as ISU defeated Missouri State, 6-3. Bacus struck out five batters, scattering eight hits and three runs over his nine innings on the mound. The ISU hurler got better as the game wore on, retiring 16 of the final 20 batters he faced from the fourth inning on, holding the Bears without a run after the visitors tied the game in the fourth.
Cody Forsythe (SIU) - Forsythe allowed just two hits in six scoreless innings on Thursday against IPFW. He retired 18 of the 21 batters he faced in the game and 10 of the last 11 IPFW hitters. Forsythe also matched a career high as he struck out 11 batters for the second time this season. He only allowed two runners to reach second base and did not allow any runners to reach third base.
Albert Minnis (WSU) - Minnis made two relief appearances last week for the Shockers. He pitched 9.2 innings and allowed just one run on 10 hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. On Tuesday at Nebraska, he went five innings in relief and gave up one run on six hits with one walk and four strikeouts in the Shockers 13-2 win. On Saturday at Creighton, he went 4.2 shutout innings in relief and allowed four hits with one walk and three strikeouts. Against the Bluejays, he also earned the win. For the week, he had a 0.93 ERA.
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).
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.
Wichita State is the only league school to have ever won back-to-back regular-season league championships. The Shockers won back-to-back titles in 2007-2008 and were winners of 14 consecutive regular-season championships from 1987-2000.
Wichita State has been the league’s most dominant team since the inception of a conference schedule in 1984. Since then, the Shockers have placed in the top three of the regular season standings in 27 of the 28 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 21 seasons, including 11 of the last 16 seasons.
Creighton has also finished in the top three 14 times – in the Bluejays' 28 seasons of league play.
AGAINST THE FIELD
The Valley has won 32 games against 2011 NCAA Tournament teams, as all eight league teams have wins over last year's NCAA field.
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