On the mound, ORU features a deep and versatile assortment of options. Senior right-hander Drew Bowen (2-1, 3.60) returns to anchor the weekend rotation after leading the club with a 6-2 mark and 1.73 ERA a year ago. Senior lefty Mike Torrence (1-2, 4.50) and junior righty Kurt Giller (1-2, 6.53) round out the rotation for a club that has posted a 3.57 team ERA to date. The Golden Eagle bullpen has been a strength through the first month of the season, as four different hurlers enter the series with ERA's of 1.00 of lower. Senior right-hander Matt Rush (0-0, 0.00, 2 saves) has been a reliable stopper, as has senior righty Don Martony (2-0, 0.69, 1 save). The duo has combined to give up just one earned run over 17.2 innings spanning 11 outings.
New Blood Delivers New Life
Missouri State has received a recent boost from a deep and talented crop of newcomers. Over the Bears' last six games, freshman Dylan Becker and Eric Cheray have been two of the clubs' hottest hitters, combining to hit .417 (15-for-36). Additionally, junior transfer Koby Peebles has rebounded from a sluggish start to bat .333 over the same stretch, and freshman Joey Hawkins has continued to flash the leather, maintaining his perfect fielding percentage.
The Bears' mound corps has also benefitted from its newest members, particularly in the bullpen. Freshmen Tyler Burgess and Zach Merciez, and junior transfer Erik Shannahan have been nearly unhittable over the same stretch. The trio has combined for two saves, while allowing just one run on five hits over 11.1 innings spanning seven outings, good for a miniscule 0.79 ERA. Merciez teamed up with sophomore right-hander Nick Petree on the teams' first shutout of the season March 9 vs. SIU Edwardsville, and junior transfer Cody Schumacher gave the Bears a lift with seven shutout innings March 4 at Northwestern State to earn his second-straight victory and complete a three-game road sweep of the Demons.
With his recent hot streak, Becker enters the weekend third on the team in hitting (.303), while Burgess and Shannahan have yet to allow a run in 10 combined outings to begin their MSU careers.
Bears Bring the `O' Against ORU
Over the course of its eight-game win streak in the series with ORU, Missouri State has thrived at the plate. The Bears have scored 71 runs in the eight-game stretch, an average of 7.9 per game. Additionally, MSU has hit a collective .325 (94-for-289) with 14 homers against Golden Eagle pitching over the course of the streak. Individually, Kevin Medrano is a .419 (13-for-31) hitter in seven career games against ORU, and Brent Seifert went 3-for-8 (.375) with a pair of taters in last year's two-game sweep.