March 22, 2012
CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Southern Illinois baseball team begins the Missouri Valley Conference portion of the 2012 season with a three-game weekend series at home against the Bradley Braves.
Date: Friday, March 23-Sunday, March 25
Time: Fri. - 1 p.m., Sat. - 2 p.m., Sun. - 1 p.m.
Location: Carbondale, Ill.
Site: Abe Martin Field
Radio: WRFX 1300-AM
Video: Streaming through Game Central
FRIDAY'S STARTER Cody Forsythe will make his sixth start of the season. In his last outing he allowed a season-high six runs in five innings, which matched his shortest start of the year. However, only two of the runs against him were earned. Forsythe enters the weekend with a 3.81 ERA, lowest among Saluki starters. He is tied with Nathan Dorris for the team lead with 23 strikeouts.
BRADLEY SERIES NOTES Southern Illinois leads the all-time series, 76-67-1. The two teams first met in 1952 and have faced each other annually since 1977. The Salukis have won seven of the last nine meetings with the Braves. The two schools split the four games they played in 2011, including SIU's 5-1 victory in the first round of the MVC Tournament. This will be Bradley's first trip to Abe Martin Field since 2010 when the Dawgs swept BU April 2-4.
SCOUTING THE BRAVES The Braves played their first home game on Wednesday, losing 3-1 to UIC to drop their record to 10-7-1 on the year. Bradley enters league play with a team batting average of .270 and a 4.25 ERA, which rank fifth and sixth in the MVC, respectively. Bradley was picked to finish seventh in the MVC Preseason Coaches' Poll. Offensively, Rob Elliott leads the Braves with a .365 batting average. Max Murphy and Greg Partyka are tied for the team lead with four home runs each. Murphy's .643 slugging percentage is second the Valley behind SIU's Chris Serritella. Joe Birch has been the unquestioned ace of the pitching staff with a 3-0 record a 2.55 ERA. His 44 strikeouts rank second in the MVC.
GOOD START With a 12-9 mark, the Salukis take their best record into conference play since 2007 when SIU entered the conference season with a 16-6 overall record. The last time SIU was above .500 to start the conference schedule was in 2008 when the Dawgs were 8-7.
ERRORS Southern Illinois has not yet played a game without comitting an error and has committed at least two errors in each of its last 12 games. With 54 errors in 21 games, the Salukis have more than double the amount of errors of any other team in the MVC. Those 54 errors have led to 41 unearned runs. No other team in The Valley has allowed more than 20 unearned runs.
LOOKING FOR THE BIG HIT After scoring double digit runs six times in their first 16 games, the Salukis have scored more than five runs just once in their last six games. SIU's offense has only been held under five runs four times in its last 17 games, but three of those instances have come in the last four games. Southern Illinois is still hitting .296 as a team but has struggled to come up with timely hits as of late, stranding at least nine runners in each of the last four games. The Salukis have left the bases loaded in a total of five innings in their last four games and failed to score in three of those innings.
SATURDAY/SUNDAY STARTERS Cameron Maldonado will make his 21st career start with SIU on Saturday. In his last outing, Maldonado allowed four runs off five hits in six innings against NIU. He left with SIU trailing 4-3 but a late rally took him off the hook and gave the Salukis the win. After starting his SIU career 4-0, junior Nathan Dorris had his toughest outing of the year on Sunday. He allowed seven runs off nine hits in four and a third innings against Illinois to take the loss. SIU is a combined 9-1 in games started by Maldonado and Dorris.
HITTING STREAKS Austin Montgomery enters the weekend with a 13-game hitting streak, the longest of his career. He is hitting .412 (21-for-51) during the streak with 11 RBI. Donny Duschinsky snapped a 15-game hitting streak Tuesday agaisnt Eastern Illinois.
TOP HITTERS Chris Serritella leads the MVC with 35 hits, and Austin Montgomery is tied for second in the league with 33 hits. Serritella and Montgomery also both rank in the top five in the MVC in RBI. Serritella has 25 RBI, and Montgomery has 24. ALL-TIME AVERAGE With his hot start this season, Chris Serritella is hitting .407 through the first 21 games this season. This has raised the redshirt junior's career average to .363 and puts him in seventh place on the school's all-time list, just behind Mike Russell's .364 average. Current Dodger Jerry Hairston Jr. is one spot below Serritella with a .360 average.
SALUKIS vs. BRADLEY Among Salukis hitters who have started at least five games against the Braves, Brock Harding leads the team with a .400 batting average. In one career start against Bradley, Cody Forsythe allowed two runs and struck out seven batters in eight innings to earn the win. Cameron Maldonado made two starts against Bradley last year. In the first start, he allowed a season-high eight runs in five and a third innings. In the second start, he allowed just one run in a nine-inning complete game victory.
LOOKING AHEAD Southern will conclude this 14-game homestand on Wednesday with a 3 p.m. game against Murray State. Next weekend the Dawgs will visit Wichita State for a three-game series.