Bears Look to Build Momentum in Valley Series Against Southern Illinois

Bears Look to Build Momentum in Valley Series Against Southern Illinois

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March 27, 2014

Missouri State Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Missouri State Bears (10-13, 1-2 MVC) vs. Southern Illinois Salukis (13-10, 0-0 MVC)
Friday, March 28 - 6:35 p.m.
Saturday, March 29 - 2:05 p.m.
Sunday, March 30 - 1:05 p.m.
Location: Springfield, Mo.
Site: Hammons Field (8,000)
Series History: MSU leads 60-34
Radio: KBFL 1060 AM (Art Hains)
Live Audio:
Live Video: Bears All-Access
Twitter: @MSUBearBaseball

Leading Off
The Missouri State Bears (10-13, 1-2 MVC) will look to continue their winning ways this weekend when they host the Southern Illinois Salukis (13-10, 0-0 MVC) in a three-game Missouri Valley Conference series at Hammons Field. The two clubs will open the series with a 6:35 p.m. game Friday (March 28), before meeting again at 2:05 p.m. Saturday and 1:05 p.m. Sunday.

The Bears have claimed wins in two of their last three contests to snap out of a recent nine-game slide, while the Salukis have won five of their last seven outings after suffering a five-game skid earlier this month. MSU dropped two of its three games at Wichita State last weekend to open Valley play, before falling in 11 innings at No. 24 Oklahoma State Tuesday and rallying to defeat Arkansas State at Hammons Field Wednesday evening.

Prime 9
? The Bears hold a 60-34 all-time advantage in the series with Southern Illinois, as well as a 25-17 edge vs. the Salukis at home since joining the Valley in 1991
? Over their last 13 victories in the series with SIU, the Bears have averaged 8.0 runs per contest dating back to 2008
? The Bears lead the Valley in triples (7) and ranked 28th nationally in doubles per game (2.05) entering the week; MSU ranks second overall in the conference in total extra-base hits (62)
? Eric Cheray has tormented the Salukis over the previous two seasons, bringing a .500 career batting mark against SIU into this weekend's series; the junior went 7-for-11 (.636) and scored four times in the two clubs' three-game series last year in Carbondale after logging five hits in 13 at-bats against SIU in 2012
? Bears hurlers have posted a 2.95 ERA and combined for 79 strikeouts over their last 10 games; MSU has hit just .202 as as team with 11 extra-base hits over the same stretch, however
? Sam Perez's 8.1 frames vs. Arkansas State Wednesday marked the longest relief outing for a Missouri State pitcher since Matt Hall's 8 1/3-inning stint vs. Wichita State on May 5, 2013
? Dylan Becker has been one of the Bears most consistent run producers in 2014, ranking among the Valley's top 10 individual performers in doubles, triples, home runs, sacrifice hits and stolen bases
? Joey Hawkins's 6 SAC bunts lead the Valley and ranked 25th in all of Division I baseball through March 23
? Of the Bears' 10 victories this season, five have been come-from-behind wins, with Wednesday's rally from a 3-0 deficit against ASU marking the largest margin MSU has overcome since March of last year

Series History
Missouri State holds a commanding 60-34 advantage over Southern Illinois in a series that dates back to 1988. The Bears have enjoyed a recent run of success in the series, having taken 15 of the last 22 meetings dating back to the 2008 season. SIU has claimed nine of the previous 18 contests played in the series at Hammons Field since 2004, however.

Last year, MSU claimed two of three meetings with SIU in Carbondale, pulling out wins by scores of 7-3 and 14-6 to open the weekend, before the Salukis rallied for an 8-5 victory in the finale. In 2012, the Bears and SIU split four meetings at Hammons Field, with MSU taking two of three Valley games during the regular season and the Salukis earning a 3-2 win in late May to eliminate the Bears from the MVC Championship.

Home at Long Last
Missouri State shed a heavy weight from its collective shoulders Wednesday with its 5-4 win over Arkansas State at Hammons Field. The Bears' first Hammons' win of 2014 stopped a five-game overall home losing streak dating back to last May, and flushed away some of the bad taste remaining from a troublesome opening week at home. After spending the first four weeks of the season on the road, the Bears' first homestand of 2014 was supposed to be a happy homecoming. But MSU's three-game series with Dallas Baptist (March 14-15), followed by a 6-0 loss to Oklahoma State (March 18) provided little cause for celebration for the the Bears, who were held scoreless in all four games and hit just .125 without an extra-base hit as a club to record its first 0-4 home start in the 51-year history of the program.

Sam's the Man
Bears right-hander Sam Perez logged his first career mound victory Wednesday vs. Arkansas State after working the final 8 1/3 innings in relief. Perez fanned six and kept the Red Wolves off the scoreboard for the first seven innings of his appearance before a ninth-inning score pulled ASU to within one run. The Branson, Mo., product fanned six batters while walking none and allowing just four hits and three hit batsmen in the longest relief outing for a Missouri State pitcher since Matt Hall's 8.1-inning stint vs. Wichita State last May.

Perez has been lights out for the Bears as a sophomore, registering a 1.72 ERA in six relief appearances, including three scoreless outings of 2.0 innings, to begin the season.

Love the Drake
Bears senior outfielder Patrick Drake made a triumphant return from a nine-game layoff due to injury Wednesday, driving in the go-ahead run to cap a four-run MSU rally in the second inning vs. Arkansas State. Drake was unquestionably one of the clubs' biggest offensive contributors through the first four weeks of the season, slugging .429 with eight RBIs to help fuel MSU's marked turnaround in the power department. Drake's fast start has included a career-high six doubles in 11 games, which ranked as the eighth best per-game average in all of Division I baseball at the time of his injury.

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