Joven shuts down Murray State, earns mid-week rotation spot

Joven retired 18 consecutive batters in a dominant performance on Tuesday night.

After a solid two year stint at the College of the Sequoias in California, Art Joven’s career at Mizzou hadn’t gotten off to an ideal start. After uneven road trips in Florida and Arkansas, he made his first home start against Arkansas State on March 13.

He didn’t make it out of the second inning, allowing four runs on six hits and ballooning his ERA to 7.27.

Six days later, he got the ball again, this time against the Murray State Racers. Faced with the pressure of getting the Tigers back on track after three losses to begin SEC play the weekend before, Joven delivered. The left-hander went seven and two-thirds innings, striking out ten and allowing two hits, neither of which left the infield in a 2-1 Missouri victory.

“He was scuffling a little bit early with location and all of the sudden he found his breaking ball and he could land it at any time and I think that gave him some confidence,” coach Steve Bieser said.

After cruising through the first two innings, Joven got into some trouble in the third, starting it off with a walk to third baseman Dylan Letellier. The next two batters laid down bunts, with Joven mishandling the first for an error. Murray State second baseman Jordan Holly then pushed a ball up the first base line perfectly between Joven and first baseman Tony Ortiz to load the bases. Joven retired the next three batters on a groundout, a pop out and a strikeout. A run crossed the plate, but the damage could have been far worse.

“I just tried to focus on one pitch at a time and pitch to contact and try to get out of it,” Joven said.

Joven was untouchable for the rest of the night. He exited in the eighth inning having set down 18 Racers in a row. He was efficient as well, throwing 93 pitches, 65 of them strikes. He credited his success to that aggressive approach.

“I’m not trying to nibble on the plate so much,” he said. “Just worked through Chad [McDaniel] today and really just throw him pitches for strikes.”

The weekend pitching rotation for Missouri has been established: junior T.J. Sikkema, senior Tyler Laplante and junior Jacob Cantleberry. Who will start the mid-week games has been up in the air. Freshmen Trae Robertson and Luke Mann have both gotten starts in addition to Joven. After Tuesday’s performance, Bieser announced that Joven would continue to get mid-week starts for the foreseeable future.

“Right now, he’s our number four starter, so he would start on Tuesdays, which allows him to be a bullpen guy on the weekend,” Bieser said. “And that’s what you want. If you get into a weekend and need that guy, he’s back and rested and can throw out of the bullpen. That’s kind of where we originally thought he was going to land for us and he’s had a couple good outings, so he just has to get more consistent.”

Edited by Emily Leiker | eleiker@themaneater.com

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