Story originally published on News-Leader.com on March 13, 2012
Draw up a near-perfect introduction to college baseball and it might look like this — six pitching appearances with three victories, three saves and no runs allowed.
Welcome to Division I, Tyler Burgess.
“You just hope you can get a chance to get out there and pitch and, when you do, hope that you can take advantage of those chances,” Missouri State’s freshman left-hander said.
Burgess and the Bears’ pitching staff could get its biggest challenge so far tonight, when hard-hitting and 24h-ranked Purdue visits Hammons Field.
Purdue (12-1) has won seven in a row, including wins over traditional southern powers Auburn and Southern Mississippi. The Boilermakers just outscored Murray State 40-5 in a three-game weekend sweep.
“It’s an older club and they’ve been building toward this year,” MSU coach Keith Guttin said.
Burgess, who set a Missouri high school record with 11 shutouts for Webb City, will be waiting in the bullpen if needed. He’s made a smooth transition to relief in his rookie season.
“He throws a ton of strikes and is so even-keeled; he rarely gets rattled,” Bears pitching coach Paul Evans said.
Burgess’ second career game came at Texas Tech before 2,419 fans. He worked three hitless innings to earn the victory. Opponents are hitting .110 off him so far.
“He’s come into tough, pressure situations and shut guys down,” catcher Luke Voit said. “He’s definitely show poise.”
Evans said Burgess is not overpowering, with a fastball that ranges from 84-97 miles per hour. But his location, combined with timely use of off-speed pitches, has led to impressive results.
Relief pitching has been a mental adjustment, though Burgess said he got a taste of it in the fall and liked it.
“It’s a little different when it gets to the sixth, seventh or eighth inning and know that any time, (Guttin) might send you to the bullpen.
“I just try to be ready and go right at them.”
Junior right-hander Clay Murphy is tonight’s likely MSU starter. Murphy (2-0, 0.71 ERA) threw a complete-game victory one week ago over Oklahoma State