Salukis at home against Illinois for four-game series

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    SIU's defense has turned 15 double plays, more than any other team in the MVC.
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    March 14, 2013

    Illinois (10-4, 0-0 Big Ten) vs. Southern Illinois (9-7, 0-0 MVC)
     Date Friday, March 15-Monday, March 18
     Time Fri. - 3 p.m., Sat. - 2 p.m., Sun. - 2 p.m., Mon. - 1 p.m.
     Location Friday, Saturday, Monday - Carbondale, Ill. - Abe Martin Field
    Sunday - Marion, Ill. - Rent One Park 
     Probables Fri. - RHP Kevin Johnson (2-1, 3.28 ERA) vs. RHP Sam Coonrod (1-0, 2.86 ERA) 
    Sat. - RHP Nick Blackburn (2-0, 3.97) vs. LHP Cody Forsythe (1-1, 2.95 ERA)
    Sun. - LHP Kevin Duchene (2-0, 4.12 ERA) vs. LHP Derek Fogel (0-1, 4.58 ERA)
    Mon. - RHP John Kravetz (2-0, 3.86) vs. TBA 
     Radio WFRX 1300-AM and streaming live on Saluki All-Access
     Video Saluki All-Access
     Game Notes Southern Illinois Get Acrobat Reader | Illinois Get Acrobat Reader
     Live Stats Gametracker: Friday | Saturday | Sunday | Monday
     Social Media @SIU_Baseball

    CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Southern Illinois baseball team will host Illinois in a four-game series that will run from Friday, March 15 until Monday, March 18. The Salukis have won four of their last five contests and will look to sustain that momentum when the series gets underway at 3 p.m. on Friday.

    FRIDAY'S STARTER Sam Coonrod will make his fifth start of the season and his first career appearance against Illinois. In his last outing, he pitched a career-best seven innings and set a new career high with eight strikeouts. The sophomore held Northern Illinois to two runs off of four hits, and only one of the runs was earned. He took a no-decision as the Salukis took home a walk-off win. SIU is 4-0 in games Coonrod has started this season. 

    ILLINOIS SERIES NOTES Southern Illinois leads the all-time series, 31-25. Over the last five years, the two teams are 6-6 against one another. The rivalry dates back to 1954, and more recently, the two teams have meet annually since 2007. Beginning in 2008, they have faced one another once a year at Rent One Park in Marion, Ill. SIU is 2-3 in five meetings with the Illini at Rent One Park. This will be the first year since 1985 that the Fighting Illini play multiple games at Abe Martin Field. In 2012, Illinois took a pair of games from the Salukis over St. Patrick's Day Weekend, but SIU rebounded to win a midweek game in Champaign in May.

    SCOUTING THE FIGHTING ILLINI After dropping three of their first four games, Illinois has won nine of its last 10 contests including a three-game sweep at Baylor last weekend. As a team, Illinois is hitting an even .300 and is led by senior outfielder Justin Parr who is hitting .424. The pitching staff hase been solid as well, posting a 3.39 team ERA.

    HOME SWEET HOME SIU is off to a 4-1 start in five home games this season. In those five home games, the Salukis are hitting .300, and the pitching staff has posted a 2.00 ERA while holding opponents to a .200 batting average. Last season the Salukis started 5-1 at home before losing to Illinois. 

    ATTACKING LATE In the last five games, SIU has outscored its opponents in the final three innings of games by a margin of 14-3. On the season, SIU has outscored its opponents 36-18 in the seventh inning and later.

    Ryan Casillas Over the last five games, first baseman Ryan Casillas is hitting .500 (8-for-16) to raise his batting average from .250 to .317. He also has a .619 on-base percentage during that stretch. He has drawn three walks in his last two games after drawing a total of one walk in his first 14 games this season.

    SATURDAY, SUNDAY STARTERS Cody Forsythe will make his fifth start of the season in Saturday's game. Due to  weather-related rescheduling, last Saturday he pitched on two days fewer rest than his normal schedule and lasted just three innings against Northern Illinois. It was his shortest start since his freshman year. He surrendered only one run off four hits and struck out two as SIU went on to win the game 4-2. On Sunday, Derek Fogel will make his fourth start of the season. Last Friday in his first start at Abe Martin Field, the lefty allowed three runs off seven hits in six and two-thirds of an inning. He took a no-decision after SIU rallied for seven runs in the eighth inning to win 8-3. In the game, Fogel uncharacteristically issued his first three walks of the season after not surrendering a free pass in his first 13 innings of work. Southern Illinois has not announced a starter for Monday's game.

    SCHOLAR-ATHLETE On Wednesday, Austin Montgomery was named Missouri Valley Scholar-Athlete of the Week. Montgomery has received the honor in two of the four weeks that it has been handed out this baseball season. Montgomery also claimed the conference's Scholar-Athlete of the Week honor following the first week of the 2012 season.

    JONES AMONG MVC LEADERS Matt Jones leads the team with a .382 batting average, which ranks seventh in the MVC. He leads the conference in hits with 26 and is second in the Valley in RBI (15) and total bases (33).

    BULLPEN Southern Illinois' bullpen has not allowed an earned run in the last 18 innings it has pitched. That stretches over five-plus games. The Saluki pen has allowed only eight hits during the streak. The Saluki pen has also not allowed a run of any kind in its last eight innings of work. The last time an SIU reliever allowed an earned run was in the eighth inning of the March 6 game at Murray State.  

    THAT WAS CLOSE Six of SIU's last seven games have been determined by two runs or less. The Salukis are 2-3 in one-run games and 2-3 in two run games. SIU is 5-1 in games determined by three runs or more and has not lost a game by more than three runs this season.

    EATON ASCENDING CAREER LIST Closer Todd Eaton has earned a save in both of SIU's last two wins to give him three saves in three chances for the season and 13 for his career. He is two saves behind Andrew Weber for third most in school history. Already this season, Eaton has surpassed former Saluki Larry Beattie's 11 career saves to move into fourth place.

    LOOKING AHEAD Following the series with Illinois, the Salukis will be back on the road for four straight games. First SIU will head to Eastern Illinois for a single game on Tuesday, March 19. The Salukis will then open the conference season at Indiana State with a three-game series beginning Friday, March 22.

    The Last Meeting
    Southern Illinois7
    May 1, 2012
    Champaign, Ill.
    Baseball knocks off Illinois 7-3 with five late runs
    The Salukis (25-20) rallied for a pair of eighth inning runs to take the lead back from the Illini (25-19) Tuesday night at Illinois Field in Champaign.