SIU opens homestand Thursday against Eastern Kentucky

    SIU has a 2.53 ERA in seven home games this season.

    SIU has a 2.53 ERA in seven home games this season.
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    March 27, 2013

    Eastern Kentucky (5-15, 2-7 OVC) vs. Southern Illinois (9-14, 0-3 MVC)
     Date Thursday, March 28-Saturday, March 30
     Time Thu. - 3 p.m., Fri. - 2:30 p.m., Sat. - 1 p.m. (All times Central)
     Location Carbondale, Ill. - Abe Martin Field 
     Probables Thu. - RHP Brent Cobb (2-4, 5.58 ERA) vs. RHP Sam Coonrod (1-2, 3.82 ERA) 
    Fri. - RHP Ben Gullo (0-2, 3.63 ERA) vs. LHP Cody Forsythe (1-1, 2.55 ERA)
    Sat. - LHP Shane Grimm (2-2, 6.26 ERA) vs. LHP Derek Fogel (0-1, 3.13 ERA) 
     Radio WFRX 1300-AM and streaming live on Saluki All-Access
     Video Saluki All-Access
     Game Notes Southern Illinois Get Acrobat Reader
     Live Stats Gametracker: Thursday | Friday | Saturday
     Social Media @SIU_Baseball

    CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Southern Illinois baseball team will host Eastern Kentucky for its first ever three-game series against the Colonels with the first pitch scheduled for 3 p.m. on Thursday. The Salukis will look to snap a seven-game losing streak.

    THURSDAY’S STARTER Sam Coonrod will make his seventh start of the season and the 17th start of his career. He will try to even his record at 2-2 after taking the loss last Friday in SIU’s conference opener at Indiana State. In that outing, he held the Sycamores to three runs, only one of them earned, in his first six innings of work before surrendering four earned runs and recording only one out in the seventh inning.

    EASTERN KENTUCKY SERIES NOTES The two programs have only faced one another twice, and Southern Illinois won both games. The Salukis defeated the Colonels by a score of 4-2 in 1992 and by a score of 8-7 in 1995. Both games were played at Abe Martin Field.

    SCOUTING THE COLONELS After starting the season 3-3, Eastern Kentucky has lost 12 of its last 14 games. The Colonels enter the series on a four-game losing streak. EKU is currently in ninth place in the Ohio Valley Conference with a 2-7 record. Eastern Kentucky ranks seventh out of 11 OVC teams with a .268 team batting average. Sean Hagen leads the team with a .327 average, and Shaun Ball leads the Colonels with three home runs and 13 RBI. EKU has a team ERA of 6.96 and is in the bottom 25 in team ERA among the 296 Division I baseball programs.

    PITCHING AT HOME After four straight road games, SIU is back home for a four-game homestand. In seven home games this season, Southern Illinois’ pitching staff has posted a 2.53 team ERA and held opponents to a .213 batting average. The bullpen has been even more impressive at home. Saluki relievers have posted a 1.29 ERA and held opposing hitters to a .179 average at Abe Martin Field.

    HITTING AT HOME Southern Illinois is hitting .278 in seven home games. That is 33 points higher than its team average in road and neutral site games. Austin Montgomery leads the team with a .393 batting average at home. He is followed by Ryan Casillas, who has hit .333 at Abe Martin Field this season.

    POWER SURGE After hitting only three home runs in their first 17 games, the Salukis have hit six home runs in their last six games. Ryan Casillas, Matt Jones and Ryan Rosthenhausler are tied for the team lead with two home runs apiece. Casillas’ three-run home run in Saturday’s game was SIU’s first home run of the year with more than one runner on base.

    HIT BATSMAN Ryan Casillas has been hit by a pitch 10 times this season, which already ties him for sixth most by a Saluki in a single season. If he is hit by another pitch, he will tie Kevin Koski and Jerry Hairston Jr. for fourth most in a single season. The school record is 24, set by Chris Sauritch in 1994.

    FRIDAY, SATURDAY STARTERS Cody Forsythe will make his seventh start of the season in Friday’s game. It will be his 41st career start, tying him with current Toronto Blue Jay Jason Frasor for fourth on the Salukis’ all-time list. Forsythe is coming off his best outing of the year. Last Saturday at Indiana State, the senior held the Sycamores to two hits in eight scoreless innings and struck out a season-high seven batters. He lowered his ERA to 2.55, which is sixth best in the Missouri Valley Conference. On Saturday, Derek Fogel will make his sixth start of the season. He has posted a 2.17 ERA over his last three starts. The junior has received four straight no-decisions despite leaving the game in line for a win in three of those four contests. Fogel enters the weekend with a 3.13 ERA, which is 10th best in the MVC. 

    RESCHEDULED GAMES Each of the Salukis’ last five weekend series has featured a game that had to be suspended, cancelled or rescheduled due to weather. This will mark the fourth consecutive weekend that SIU does not play a Sunday game. The Salukis were scheduled to host Belmont this past Tuesday, but the game was cancelled due to unplayable field conditions. No makeup date has been set.

    WELCH After his average dipped below .300 for the first time since the opening weekend of the season, Jake Welch rebounded to hit .385 (5-for-13) with two doubles in last weekend’s series at Indiana State to raise his average back to .310. He is the only Saluki who has hit over .300 over the last five games.

    200 HIT CLUB With a single in the series finale against Indiana State last Saturday, Austin Montgomery joined the 200 hit club for his career. The previous two Salukis to record 200 career hits were Chris Serritella in 2012 and Chris Murphy in 2011. Montgomery is 41 hits away from joining the top 10 for most career hits in a Saluki career.

    REACHING BASE STREAK Ryan Casillas enters the weekend having reached base safely in 12 consecutive games and 15 of his last 16 games. The Salukis’ longest streak of reaching base safely this season is held by Ryan Rosthenhausler who reached base in 14 consecutive games from Feb. 22 through March 16.

    OVC OPPONENTS Including the Eastern Kentucky series, four of SIU’s next five opponents are members of the Ohio Valley Conference. The Salukis will face seven of the 11 schools from the OVC this season. That number will jump to eight if the game with Belmont is rescheduled after it was cancelled this past Tuesday.

    LAST SEVEN GAMES During the current seven-game losing streak, SIU pitchers have posted a 3.69 ERA, which is nearly in line with the team’s 3.58 season ERA. However, Saluki hitters have batted .189 over the past seven games, compared to a season average of .255. SIU was hitting .284 prior to the start of the seven-game stretch.

    LOOKING AHEAD Following the Eastern Kentucky series, SIU will remain at home to host Murray State at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, April 2. The Salukis will resume conference play on Friday, April 5 with a three-game series at Evansville. That will be followed by a pair of midweek games. SIU will visit Southeast Missouri State on Tuesday, April 9 and host Austin Peay on Wednesday, April 10.