April 19, 2012
By Scott Gierman
CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Southern Illinois baseball team will resume the Missouri Valley Conference schedule this weekend when it hosts Creighton for a three-game series at Abe Martin Field beginning Friday at 3 p.m.
Date: Friday, April 20-Sunday, April 22
Time: Friday - 3 p.m., Saturday - 2 p.m., Sunday - 1 p.m.
Location: Carbondale, Ill.
Site: Abe Martin Field
Radio: WFRX 1300-AM and streaming live on Game Central
Video: Streaming live on Game Central
FRIDAY’S STARTER Cody Forsythe will make his 10th start of the season. In three MVC starts this year, he is 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA. In his Valley starts he has struck out 19 batters in 22.0 innings and held opponents to a .176 batting average, all three of those stats rank seventh in the conference. He is three and two-thirds innings away from 200 innings in his career and eight strikeouts away from 150 for his career.
CREIGHTON SERIES NOTES SIU leads the all-time series 60-56 in a rivalry that dates back to 1979. In 2011, the Salukis won two out of three games in the regular season series in Omaha. All three of those games were one-run games. However, Creighton eliminated Southern from the MVC tournament with a 5-0 shutout and went on to win the tournament. The last time SIU won a series against Creighton in Carbondale was 2006. The two teams have had many close battles over the last two years with SIU posting a 3-4 record against the Bluejays. Only one of those games has been decided by more than two runs.
SCOUTING THE BLUEJAYS Creighton was picked to finish second in the MVC preseason poll and received three of the eight first place votes. However, the Jays enter the weekend in last place in the Valley with a 2-7 record, and at 15-17 overall, they are the only sub-.500 team in the league. After starting 11-7, Creighton has lost 10 of its last 14 games. The pitching has been solid this season with a 3.38 ERA, but the team has combined to hit a league low .238. Nick Judkins leads the team with a .317 average and is the only starter hitting above .290. Conversely, SIU has seven regulars hitting above .300 for the year.
HOME RUN NOTES SIU leads the conference with 32 home runs this season. That is 11 more than SIU’s season total in 2011. Chris Serritella and Jordan Sivertsen rank No. 1 and No. 2 in the conference with 10 and eight home runs, respectively. The Salukis’ power numbers have increased since the start of conference season. In 16 games since their first MVC contest, the Dawgs have hit 20 of their 32 home runs.
HITTING THE VALLEY The Salukis enter the weekend leading the MVC in conference games in hits (107), slugging percentage (.505), home runs (12) and total bases (167). SIU is hitting .323 in MVC games, which is second only to Missouri State, who is hitting an amazing .333 in conference games.
INJURY NEWS SIU has announced that right-handed pitcher Bryan Waldrop will miss the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury. The sophomore began the season as SIU’s midweek starter and also made three relief appearances earlier this year. Waldrop’s last appearance was on March 16. This news comes less than a week after Lee Weld returned to make his first relief appearance since missing the 2011 season with a shoulder injury.
TRIPLE CROWN CANDIDATE Chris Serritella has a chance to become the MVC’s first triple crown winner in 13 years. He enters the weekend leading the MVC in batting average (.383) and home runs (10). His 42 RBI are one shy of the league lead. The last player to win the triple crown in the MVC was Missouri State’s Matt Cepicky in 1999. He hit .414 with 30 home runs and 100 RBI.
CRUNCH TIME After playing five consecutive non-conference games, 12 of SIU’s next 14 games are Valley matchups. The four remaining MVC series are against the top two records in the MVC (Indiana State and Missouri State) and the worst two records in the league (Creighton and Illinois State).
BACK ON TRACK On Wednesday, Nathan Dorris became the first SIU starter besides Cody Forsythe and Cameron Maldonado to record a win since Dorris earned a victory against Jacksonville State on March 10. During that 20-game stretch, Forsythe and Maldonado were a combined 5-2 in 10 starts while all other SIU starting pitchers combined for an 0-4 record with six no-decisions in 10 starts.
HARDING HITTING Brock Harding has been SIU’s most consistent hitter of late. He enters the series with an eight-game hitting streak and has recorded multiple hits in four of his last five games. A natural infielder, he has started at DH for each of SIU’s past 11 games and hit .375 (18-for-48) during that stretch. Harding has reached base safely in 18 of his last 19 games. In seven career games against Creighton, he has a .435 batting average, by far the best of any active Saluki.
SATURDAY/SUNDAY STARTERS Saturday starter Cameron Maldonado will look to rebound from his worst outing of the year. After starting the year 5-0, he allowed eight runs off nine hits in just two innings at Dallas Baptist last week. That snapped his personal seven-game winning streak, which dated back to 2011. SIU is 8-1 in Maldonado’s starts this year. Freshman Sam Coonrod will start Sunday. He is coming off one of the best starts of his young career. With strong winds blowing out last weekend, he held the potent DBU offense to two runs in six innings and left with a lead but took a no-decision.
LOOKING AHEAD Following the series with Creighton, SIU will stay at home for a 3 p.m. game against Southeast Missouri State on Tuesday. That will be followed by seven consecutive road games. Next weekend the Salukis will visit Missouri State.