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    March 5, 2012

    By Scott Gierman

    CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Southern Illinois baseball team begins a 14-game homestand with a two-game series against the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders. The first game will be the home opener.

    Date: March 6-7
    Time: Tues.-2 p.m. CST, Wed.-2 p.m. CST
    Location: Carbondale, Ill.
    Site: Abe Martin Field
    Radio: WFRX 1300-AM
    Video: None

    Game Notes

    TUESDAY’S STARTER Freshman Sam Coonrod is scheduled to make his first college start. In five relief appearances, he has tossed eight scoreless innings to begin his collegiate career.

    AGAINST THE BLUE RAIDERS Middle Tennessee State leads the all-time series 13-6. The Blue Raiders have dominated the series of late, winning the last eight matchups. SIU’s last win against MT came on March 17, 2009. The Salukis last home win against Middle Tennessee State came on March 13, 2006. The two teams met for the first time in 1993 and have played each other in each of the last eight years, including 2012.

    SALUKIS WINNING STREAK SIU swept through the Bright House Invitational this past weekend, winning all three games, including an 11-8 win over No. 19 Stetson on Saturday night. The last time the Salukis had swept a non-conference tournament of three or more games was when they posted a 4-0 record in the Homestead Challenge Tournament in 1999. SIU’s current three-game winning streak is the Salukis longest since the Dawgs won four in a row April 6-10, 2011. That included a win against Murray State and a sweep at Evansville.

    SCOUTING MIDDLE TENNESSEE The Blue Raiders took two out of three at home against Louisiana Tech this weekend to improve their record to 7-4. MT has now won six of its last seven games. Offensively, the Blue Raiders are led by Justin Guidry who is hitting .349 in 11 games. Ethan Williams is also hitting an impressive .341. Middle Tennessee is averaging just four runs a game, but leads the Sun Belt Conference with a 2.43 team ERA.

    HOME SWEET HOME SIU went 5-13 in 18 home games in 2011. This year the Salukis have 27 home games on the schedule. This does not include a neutral site game against Illinois at Rent One Park, just down the road in Marion, Ill.

    SIVERTSEN SWINGING Left fielder Jordan Sivertsen leads the Missouri Valley with 19 strikeouts this season, giving him 146 strikeouts in his career. He is currently tied for fifth on SIU’s all-time list, two behind current pitching coach P.J. Finigan and 44 Ks behind the school’s all-time leader Greg Andrews.

    DUSCHINSKY NOTES Donny Duschinsky enters the series with a career best six-game hitting streak. During the streak he is hitting .417 (10-for-24) with 10 RBI, including a grand slam on Saturday against Stetson. As a freshman in 2011, Duschinsky hit one extra-base hit in 32 games. He already has four doubles, a triple and two home runs in 11 games in 2012.

    CLUTCH RELIEF Over the last two games of the Bright House Invitational, the Saluki bullpen allowed just three hits in eight scoreless innings. In Saturday’s game at Stetson, SIU relievers combined to toss five hitless innings.

    DEFENSIVE MISTAKES SIU has committed at least one error in each of its first 11 games and a total of 24 on the season. The Salukis have committed eight more errors than any other team in the Missouri Valley Conference and have a league worst .945 fielding percentage. Infielders Donny Duschinsky and Wes Neece lead the team with six errors apiece.

    DRIVING IN 100 Chris Serritella and Jordan Sivertsen have both surpassed the 100 RBI mark for their careers this season. Entering the MT series, Sivertsen has driving in 104 runs in his career, and Serritella has driven in 103. Sivertsen is 23 RBI away from cracking the school’s all-time top 10 list for runs batted in.

    WEDNESDAY’S STARTER Sophomore righty Pete Slavonic will make his first career start with the Salukis. He has allowed one run off three hits in four innings this season. He is 1-1 in his career with a 5.77 ERA in 20 relief appearances. OFF AND RUNNING SIU enters the series 10- for-11 in stolen base attempts this season. Chris Serritella, Jordan Sivertsen and Jake Welch are each two-for-two and tied for the team lead. A redshirt junior, Serritella did not have a stolen base in his college career until this season. SIU only stole 23 bases in 2011 and did not attempt a stolen base in the first four games of 2012.