SIU hosts Murray State Tuesday to wrap up homestand

    Brad Drust will make his third start of the season on Tuesday.

    Brad Drust will make his third start of the season on Tuesday.
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    April 1, 2013

    Murray State (12-15, 6-6 OVC) vs. Southern Illinois (12-14, 0-3 MVC)
     Date Tuesday, April 2
     Time 3 p.m.
     Location Carbondale, Ill. - Abe Martin Field
    Probables RHP Tim Vonder Haar (1-2, 6.23) vs. LHP Brad Drust (1-2, 9.00)
     Radio WFRX 1300-AM and online at Saluki All-Access
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    CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Southern Illinois baseball team will try to extend its winning streak to a season-best four games as it concludes a four-game homestand on Tuesday against Murray State. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.

    TUESDAY’S STARTER Brad Drust will make his third start of the season and the 11th start of his career. The left-handed redshirt junior is 0-1 with a 4.26 ERA in his two starts this year. He has made six appearances this season, but Tuesday will be his first at Abe Martin Field this year. In his last outing, Drust allowed four runs, only one of them earned, off four hits in two and a third innings of work.

    MURRAY STATE SERIES NOTES SIU leads the all-time series, 43-16, but the two schools have split the season series in each of the last three years. In the first meeting with the Thoroughbreds this year, the Salukis lost by a score of 9-8. After surrendering a 6-0 lead, SIU battled back to tie the game at 8-8 in the top of the seventh inning before surrendering a run in the bottom of the seventh.

    SCOUTING THE THOROUGHBREDS Murray State entered the weekend with an even record but was swept at home in a three-game series against Austin Peay. The Thoroughbreds have hit a respectable .282 as a team and are led by Brandon Eggenschwiler, who ranks sixth in the Ohio Valley Conference with a .349 average. Murray State is ninth out of 11 teams in the OVC with a team ERA of 5.53. Tim Vonder Haar will make his third start of the season. In his two starts, he has allowed six runs off 15 hits in eight and two-thirds of an inning.

    The Last Meeting
    Southern Illinois8
    Murray State9
    March 6, 2013
    Murray, Ky.
    Murray State edges Baseball 9-8
    SIU pounded out eight runs off 11 hits but issued 10 walks. Southern allowed five runs in the fifth and three more in the sixth after building a 6-0 lead.

    STIFLING HITTERS Southern Illinois pitchers have held opponents to a league-low .229 batting average. All three of SIU’s weekend starters; Sam Coonrod, Cody Forsythe and Derek Fogel; rank in the top 10 in the MVC in opposing batting average and have combined to hold opponents to a .218 batting average.

    ABE MARTIN MAGIC Southern Illinois is 7-3 at home and 5-10 on the road this season. The Salukis have a 2.35 team ERA at Abe Martin Field compared to a 4.24 team ERA away from home. The offense has also performed better at SIU’s pitcher friendly park. The Salukis are hitting .273 at home compared to .256 on the road. Meanwhile, opposing hitters have been held to a .206 batting average at Abe Martin Field. 

    NEECE'S NICE WEEKEND Over the weekend, Wes Neece made his first three starts of the season and played a big part in all three Saluki wins in a sweep of Eastern Kentucky. On Thursday, his two-run, eighth-inning double iced a 6-2 victory for SIU. On Friday, he scored the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning, and then on Saturday, Neece drove in the go-ahead run in the sixth inning and scored an insurance run in the eighth. Overall, he hit .364 with two doubles and four RBIs for the week.

    GREAT STARTS In 20 games this season, SIU’s weekend starters have completed the fifth inning 18 times and allowed more than three earned runs only twice. The trio of Sam Coonrod, Cody Forsythe and Derek Fogel is averaging over six innings per start and has completed the seventh inning in four of the last five games. 

    WINNING STREAK SIU enters the week on a season-high three-game winning streak. It is the Salukis’ third three-game winning streak of the season. During the current streak, the team has a 1.93 ERA, and the bullpen has allowed only one run in eight and two-thirds of an inning.

    LOOKING AHEAD The Salukis will be on the road to resume conference play with a three-game series at Evansville beginning Friday, April 5. Next week SIU will visit Southeast Missouri State on Tuesday, April 9 and host Austin Peay the following day. On Friday, April 12, the Salukis will open a three-game series at home against MVC leader Missouri State.