SIU hosts Missouri State in crucial conference series

    Cody Forsythe will take the mound for SIU Friday against Missouri State's Nick Petree in a battle of two of the conference's top pitchers.

    Cody Forsythe will take the mound for SIU Friday against Missouri State's Nick Petree in a battle of two of the conference's top pitchers.
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    April 11, 2013

    Missouri State (19-9, 4-2 MVC) vs. Southern Illinois (16-16, 1-5 MVC)
     Date Friday, April 12-Sunday, April 14
     Time Fri. - 3 p.m., Sat. - 2 p.m., Sun. - 1 p.m. (All times Central)
     Location Carbondale, Ill. - Abe Martin Field 
     Probables Fri. - RHP Nick Petree (4-1, 0.73 ERA) vs. LHP Cody Forsythe (1-1, 2.28 ERA)
    Sat. - RHP Cody Schumacher (1-1, 2.30 ERA) vs. LHP Derek Fogel (0-1, 2.95 ERA)
    Sun. - RHP Jon Harris (6-0, 1.77 ERA) vs. RHP Sam Coonrod (2-2, 3.57 ERA) 
     Radio All three games live on WFRX 1300-AM and streaming live on Saluki All-Access
     Video Saluki All-Access
     Game Notes Southern Illinois Get Acrobat Reader | Missouri State Get Acrobat Reader
     Live Stats Friday | Saturday | Sunday
     Social Media @SIU_Baseball

    CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Salukis, who have averaged 16 runs in their last three games, will look to extend their three-game winning streak against the Valley's best pitching staff as SIU hosts Missouri State for a three-game series at Abe Martin Field. Friday will be SIU's conference home opener with the first pitch scheduled for 3 p.m.

    FRIDAY'S STARTER Cody Forsythe will make his ninth start of the season and the 43rd of his career, which places him one shy of matching the school record for career starts. He enters the weekend three innings away from becoming the third pitcher in school history to throw 300 career innings. In his last outing, the senior held Evansville to two runs, one of them earned, in nine innings of work and took a no-decision in a 3-2 10th inning loss. In two conference starts this year, Forsythe has allowed one run in 17 innings for a 0.53 ERA. In 16 conference starts since the start of 2011, he has a 1.40 ERA.

    MISSOURI STATE SERIES NOTES Missouri State leads the all-time series 58-33 in a rivalry that dates back to 1988. The Bears are one of only two MVC teams against which the Salukis do not own a winning record. The Salukis are 13-25 all-time at home against Missouri State, but SIU is 6-5 at home against the Bears since 2005. Last year MSU took two out of three from the Salukis in Springfield. Friday's game will be a rematch of last year's classic Friday night duel between Cody Forsythe and Nick Petree. SIU lost 1-0 when MSU's Keenan Maddox hit a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth.

    SCOUTING THE BEARS Missouri State lost two out of three games at Illinois State last weekend then lost 5-4 to Missouri on Tuesday. With a 4-2 conference mark, the Bears are tied with Wichita State, one game behind first place Creighton. MSU has succeeded with great pitching. The Bears have a team ERA of 2.84, which is 24th lowest in the nation and nearly a half run lower than SIU, which owns the Valley's second best ERA. Nick Petree and Jon Harris rank first and third, respectively in the conference in ERA. The Bears are seventh out of eight MVC teams with a .268 batting average. Tate Matheny is hitting .375, and is their only player with an average higher than .300.

    HOT STREAK Southern Illinois has won seven of its last nine games. Both losses during that stretch were by one run, with one coming in extra innings. Over the last nine games, SIU has hit .330, posted a 2.64 ERA and outscored its opponents by a margin of 75-33. During the current three-game wining streak, the Salukis have hit .421 as a team and outscored their opponents 48-17. 

    OFFENSIVE LEADERS With its recent offensive surge, SIU now leads the conference in runs (183), RBI (169) and doubles (62) and is tied for the conference lead in home runs (16). Southern Illinois led the MVC in all four of those offensive categories in 2012.

    SATURDAY, SUNDAY STARTERS On Saturday, Derek Fogel will make his eighth start of the season. Over his last four starts, he has posted a 1.40 ERA. The junior is seeking his first win as a Saluki. He has not received a decision in any of his last six starts despite leaving in line for the win in four of those games. Sam Coonrod will make his ninth start of the season and the 19th start of his SIU career. The sophomore is coming off his shortest outing of the season. Last Sunday at Evansville, he allowed five runs in two and two-thirds of an inning in a game SIU won, 13-5. However, only one of the runs against him was earned. Coonrod is 2-1 with a 2.30 ERA in four starts at home this season. He enters the weekend five strikeouts away from 100 for his career.

    STOLEN WELCH Jake Welch has stolen four bases in the last three games to give him a team-leading 11 swipes in 12 attempts for the season. He has been successful in each of his last six attempts. His 32 career stolen bases are the most by a Saluki since Kevin Koski stole 55 bases from 2004-2007. Over the last two years, Welch is 27-for-31 in stolen base attempts.

    HOME SWEET HOME Southern Illinois is 9-3 at home this season. The Salukis have won five straight home games and eight of their last 10 at home. The five-game home winning streak matches SIU's longest in the last two years. The last time Southern had a home winning streak of six games or more was when the Salukis won eight straight home games from March 10-25, 2007. Eight SIU's next 11 games are at Abe Martin Field.

    RISE OF THE OFFENSE Over the last three games, SIU has scored 48 runs, which matches the school record for most runs scored in a three-game stretch. On Tuesday, the Salukis plated 25 runs, which is one short of the school record for runs in a single game. Over the last three games, SIU has 56 hits to raise its team batting average from .258 to .277 for the season.

    MARQUEE MATCHUPS In their first six conference games, SIU has faced four of the top nine starting pitchers in the MVC in terms of season ERA. This weekend's series will feature four of the top 10 ERAs in the Missouri Valley Conference. Missouri State's Nick Petree (0.73 ERA) and Jon Harris (1.77 ERA) are both in the top three, while the Bears' other starter for the weekend, Cody Schumacher, is two-thirds of an inning short of qualifying but would be sixth in the league with a 2.30 ERA. SIU's Cody Forsythe is fourth in the Valley with a 2.28 ERA, and Derek Fogel is 10th with a 2.95 ERA.

    BACK TO EVEN With Wednesday's win over Austin Peay, SIU climbed its season record back to .500 after it was five games under at 9-14 two weeks ago. The high water mark for the season is two games over, which the Salukis have done three times.

    LOOKING AHEAD Southern Illinois will wrap up its five-game homestand on Tuesday, April 16 as it tries for a season sweep against UT Martin. The Salukis will then visit Creighton for a three-game conference series beginning Friday, April 19.