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Baseball Bears Look to Maintain Momentum at Mizzou

Missouri State Bears (23-13) at Missouri Tigers (26-11)
Date/First Pitch: Tuesday, April 18  |  6:30 p.m.
Site:     Taylor Stadium (3,031)  |  Columbia, Mo.
Follow: Live Stats  |  SEC Network+
Game Notes:                     Missouri State  |  Missouri         
Series History: MSU leads 27-25 (12-15 in Columbia)
Radio:  KBFL 1060 AM/96.9 FM  |  RadioSpringfield.com 
Social Media:  @MSUBearBaseball  |  Facebook  |  Instagram 

  • MSU head coach Keith Guttin enters Tuesday's game one victory away from becoming the 25th NCAA Division I coach to reach the 1,200 career win plateau; he currently ranks seventh on the Division I win list for active coaches
  • The Bears lead the series with Mizzou by a 27-25 margin, but the Tigers hold a 15-12 edge vs. MSU in Columbia; MSU has claimed five of the last seven meetings since 2014, but MU has won three of the last four games vs. the Bears at Taylor Stadium
  • Missouri State has racked up a 28-15 overall record vs. the other three Division I programs from the state of Missouri over the last decade, including a 9-8 mark against the Tigers since the start of the 2007 season
  • The Bears have averaged 11.2 runs per game in their last five meetings with Mizzou, with Jake Burger logging a .526 (10-for-19) batting mark with two homers and eight RBIs in four career games against the Tigers
  • Burger and Jeremy Eierman have combined to post the top home run total for Division I teammates this spring with 29 round-trippers in just 36 games to date; the duo ranks No. 1 and No. 2 in the Valley in home runs, runs scored, hits, RBIs, total bases and slugging percentage
  • Tied for fourth nationally with 15 home runs, Burger ranks seventh on MSU's career homer list with 40, just two behind Brian Mahaffey in the No. 6 spot; Burger also rates 20th in career hits (211), two behind Tate Matheny in the 19th position on the chart
  • Amongst the trio of Burger, Eierman and Justin Paulsen, MSU hitters combine to rank first and second among all Valley hitters in seven different offensive statistical categories (SLG, OBP, runs, hits, homers, RBIs and total bases)
  • The MSU pitching staff can boast three Valley statistical leaders as well, with Doug Still pacing the circuit with a 2.29 ERA, Jordan Knutson leading the league in strikeouts (57) and Jake Fromson on top of the MVC leader    board for opposing batting (.176), fewest hits (25) and fewest earned runs (12) allowed    
  • The Bears have amassed a 67-26 regular-season record against non-conference foes since the beginning of the 2015 season, including a 38-17 road mark vs. non-MVC competition over the same stretch
After logging their second straight non-conference victory Monday evening, the Missouri State Bears will look to keep their momentum going against the Missouri Tigers Tuesday night in Columbia. The Bears and Tigers will meet at 6:30 p.m. to open their annual home-and-home series at Taylor Stadium.

MSU (23-13) posted its best offensive showing of the season Monday in a 15-8 win at Saint Louis. Jake Burger and Jeremy Eierman combined to go 6-for-10 with five RBIs in the victory, as the Bears built a 7-0 lead then held off a late SLU rally by scoring the final six runs of the contest. Burger brings a .526 (10-for-19) career batting mark versus the Tigers into Tuesday's game, while Eierman has logged back-to-back four-hit games in going nine for his last 11 over three games.

Mizzou (26-11) is coming off an SEC series loss to No. 10 Kentucky over the weekend. The Tigers are hitting .285 as a club, led by Connor Brumfield's .343 average and Trey Harris's 11 homers and 40 RBIs. On the mound, MU has logged a 3.23 team ERA, paced by reliever T.J. Sikkema's 1.49 mark six victories and four saves.

The Bears hold a slim 27-25 edge over the Tigers in a series that dates back to 1975. Missouri State has won four of the last five meetings, but MU holds a 15-12 advantage in games played on its home turf.

MSU has put up some impressive offensive numbers versus the Tigers in recent years, averaging 11.2 runs per game over the last five contests in the series. Last year, the Bears totaled 25 runs in the clubs' two meetings, including a 16-1 victory at Hammons Field (April 12). Matt Fultz went 3-for-4 with three runs scored and three RBIs, while Tuesday's anticipated starter, Austin Knight, held the Tigers to five hits over 5.0 shutout innings.

Several MSU veterans continue to make their moves up the Bears' career leaderboard in a number of statistical categories. Most notably, Jake Burger belted the first grand slam of the season by a Bear in Monday's win at SLU and sits in the No. 7 spot on MSU's all-time home run chart with 40 round-trippers of his career, just two behind Brian Mahaffey in the sixth position. Burger also climbed into the Bears' top 20 for career hits, entering Tuesday's game with 211. He trails former teammate Tate Matheny in the No. 19 spot by three hits. 

Additionally, Justin Paulsen drew a pair of walks in St. Louis and sits in sixth (109) on MSU's career chart, and Jordan Knutson made his 40th mound start as a Bear Friday to crack the program's top five in that category. Knutson also moved into the top 10 MSU hurlers for career innings (245.1), passing former teammate Matt Hall for the No. 8 position.

MSU has enjoyed a string of recent success against fellow Show-Me State Division I clubs, going a combined 28-15 against SLU, SEMO and MU over the last decade. The Bears have posted at least a .500 cumulative season record against the three clubs in all but one season (2012) since 2002.

Bears head coach Keith Guttin enters Tuesday's game needing one more victory to become the 25th NCAA Division I head coach to reach the 1,200 career win milestone. The Bears' 35th year bench boss cracked the NCAA's top 25 coaching wins list on opening weekend, moving past Andy Lopez with MSU's victories over Stony Brook and Rhode Island. 

With a career record of 1,199-752 (.615), Guttin is the second-winningest coach in MVC history, while his win total ranks seventh among all active Division I head coaches.

Not only have Jake Burger and Jeremy Eierman inflicted a healthy portion of damage on opposing pitching staffs this spring, but senior first baseman Justin Paulsen has made things triple tough on MSU foes. Together, the trio has combined to hit .360 (153-for-425) with 111 runs scored and 114 more driven in this season. Individually, they each rank among the top five Valley players in batting, on-base percentage, RBIs and hits, while two of the three combine to rank first and second in seven different offensive categories (slugging percentage, on-base percentage, runs scored, hits, home runs, RBIs and total bases).

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