SIU opens Itchy Jones Stadium with 3 games against Illinois this weekend

    Sam Coonrod will start the first game in the Salukis' new home.

    Sam Coonrod will start the first game in the Salukis' new home.
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    March 13, 2014

    Illinois Fighting Illini (6-7, 0-0 Big Ten) vs. Southern Illinois Salukis (8-7, 0-0 MVC)
     Date Friday, March 14 - Sunday, March 16
     Time Fri - 3 p.m., Sat. - 2 p.m., Sun. - 1 p.m.
     Location Richard "Itchy" Jones Stadium - Carbondale, Ill. 
     Game 1
    ILL: LHP Kevin Duchene (1-1, 1.93 ERA)
    SIU: RHP Sam Coonrod (0-1, 3.38 ERA)
     Game 2
    ILL: RHP Ryan Castellanos (1-0, 2.57 ERA)
    SIU: RHP Todd Eaton (0-2, 4.88 ERA) 
     Game 3
    ILL: RHP Drasen Johnson (2-1, 2.30 ERA)
    SIU: LHP Aaron Hauge (1-1, 2.16 ERA) 
     Radio Fri: 105.1 WVZA-FM, Sat: 1300 WFRX-AM, Sun: 1300 WFRX-AM
    All three games streaming on Salukis All-Access. Mike Reis will call the play-by-play. 
     Video Saluki All-Access
     Game Notes Southern Illinois Get Acrobat Reader | Illinois Get Acrobat Reader | MVC Get Acrobat Reader
     Live Stats
     Season Stats Southern Illinois | Illinois | MVC
     All-Time Series Illinois leads, 31-29
     Social Media @SIU_Baseball  | @SIU_Baseball  | Saluki Athletics 

    LEADING OFF Southern Illinois will open a three-game series against Illinois with the first ever game at Richard “Itchy” Jones Stadium on Friday, March 14. It will be the start of a seven-game homestand for the Salukis, who will look to snap a season-high four-game losing streak. 

    FRIDAY’S STARTER Junior Sam Coonrod will make his fifth start of the season and the 30th start of his career. Over his last two outings, he is 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA. He has made one career start against Illinois. In that start he allowed three runs off six hits, struck out two hitters in 7.0 innings and took the loss.

    ILLINOIS SERIES NOTES Illinois took has taken over the all-time series by an overall margin of 31-29 after SIU dropped all four games against the Illini in 2013. Two of those losses came in 10 innings. Illinois has won six of the last seven meetings. The two teams first met in 1954 and, more recently, have met annually since 2007. Since 2007, SIU has played five home games, six neutral site games and six road games against Illinois. 

    SCOUTING THE FIGHTING ILLINI After winning four in a row, including two wins over then-No. 23 Florida, Illinois was swept in a three-game series this past weekend at Western Kentucky to drop to 6-7 on the season. The Illini are fourth in the Big Ten with a .267 team average. Sophomore outfielder Ryan Nagle is off to a hot start. He is leading the team and fifth in the Big Ten with a .412 average and 11 RBIs. The Illinois pitching staff has posted a 3.75 ERA, which ranks sixth in the Big Ten. The Illini have walked only 35 batters, tied for the lowest in the conference and have the second-best fielding percentage in the Big Ten at .975.

    JAKE IS RAKING Over the last four games, Jake Welch is hitting .529 (9 for 17) with six walks for a .600 on-base percentage while the rest of the team is hitting a combined .180 with a .268 on-base percentage. During the current four-game stretch, Welch has recorded three multi-hit games and raised his season average from .167 to .271. His recent offensive surge gives him 218 career hits, which is 28 hits away from tying for 10th place all-time in SIU history.

    HENDU’S HUNDO Southern Illinois’ next win will be Ken Henderson’s 100th as head coach of the Salukis. His first 35 wins came as interim manager for the final 20 games of 1994 and the entire 2011 season.

    QUALITY STARTS Over the last two weeks, SIU weekend starters have produced six consecutive quality starts. During those six games, Sam Coonrod, Todd Eaton and Aaron Hauge have combined for a 1-2 record and a 2.08 ERA. The trio has recorded 27 strikeouts and issued 13 walks during that stretch. 

    SATURDAY, SUNDAY STARTERS On Saturday, Todd Eaton will make his fifth start of the season and his eighth career start. Last Saturday at South Alabama, he allowed three earned runs in the first inning and then one unearned run in the next seven innings as he pitched a complete game but took the loss to drop to 0-2 on the season. He became the first Saluki to throw a complete game since Cody Forsythe did it in the first round of the 2013 MVC Tournament. On Sunday, Aaron Hauge will make his fourth career start with the Salukis. In his last start, the junior allowed two runs off four hits in 7.0 innings and left in line for the win before SIU surrendered a late lead against South Alabama. Over his last two starts, Hauge has allowed two runs off six hits in 13.0 innings of work.

    FIGHTING THE ILLINI Matt Jones and Jake Welch have both faired well against Illinois pitching in their Saluki careers. In four games against Illinois in 2013, Jones hit .357 (5 for 14) with two home runs and three RBIs. Welch is a lifetime .351 (13 for 37) hitter in nine career games against the Illini. One of his three career homers came against Illinois in 2012. Only four other players on the current roster (Casillas, Daily, Duschinsky, Rosthenhausler) enter the series with a career at-bat against Illinois.

    FIRST TIMERS In each of the Salukis’ last five wins, an SIU pitcher has recorded his first career victory. Of the Dawgs’ eight wins this season, only one of them has been recorded by a pitcher who had at least one career win entering the season. SIU’s freshmen pitchers are a combined 6-0 this season. Senior reliever Matt Murphy is the only Saluki veteran with a win this year.

    FINALLY HOME The Salukis began the season by playing 15 road or neutral games before playing this weekend’s home opening series. This is the most non-home games to start a season for the Salukis since 1990 when SIU played 10 neutral site games and five road games before its home opener. That year Southern Illinois won nine of its first 10 home games en route to its last conference title and NCAA Tournament appearance.

    NEW HOME This weekend, Southern Illinois will play its first-ever home games at new Richard “Itchy” Jones Stadium. The facility is named in honor of SIU’s all-time winningest coach thanks to a $4.2 million renovation at the site of Abe Martin Field. The stadium features a new AstroTurf playing surface, the installation of stadium lights and new dugouts along with a new press box, seating bowl and concession area.

    LOOKING AHEAD After this weekend, SIU will continue its seven-game homestand on Tuesday, March 18 with a 4 p.m. game against Eastern Illinois. Next weekend, the Salukis will host another Big Ten opponent when Purdue comes to town for a three-game set, beginning Friday, March 21 at 1 p.m.

    The Last Meeting
    Southern Illinois7
    April 30, 2013
    Champaign, Ill.
    Illinois outslugs Salukis, 11-7
    Southern Illinois twice could not hold onto the lead in an 11-7 loss to Illinois Tuesday evening at Illinois Field. That finished Illinois' (27-13) four-game season series sweep of the Salukis (20-24). On a night with the wind blowing out steadily towards left field, 11 of the game's 18 runs were scored on home runs.