Salukis open three-game series Friday at Bradley

    Wes Neece is hitting .412 in conference games.

    Wes Neece is hitting .412 in conference games.
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    May 9, 2013

    Southern Illinois (21-27, 3-12 MVC) vs. Bradley (16-25, 1-14 MVC)
     Date Friday, May 10-Sunday, May 12
     Time Friday - 6 p.m., Saturday - 2 p.m., Sunday - 1 p.m. (All times Central)
     Location Peoria Chiefs Stadium - Peoria, Ill. 
     Probables Fri. - LHP Cody Forsythe (2-4, 3.16 ERA) vs. LHP David Koll (1-6, 4.92 ERA)
    Sat. - RHP Sam Coonrod (3-4, 4.06 ERA) vs. LHP Brent Stong (4-2, 3.19 ERA)
    Sun. - RHP Aaron Snyder (3-4, 2.60 ERA) vs. TBA
     Radio Friday - 105.1 WVZA-FM, Saturday and Sunday - 1300 WFRX-AM
    All three games streaming live on Saluki All-Access.
     Video (pay)
     Game Notes Southern Illinois Get Acrobat Reader | Bradley Get Acrobat Reader
     Live Stats Friday | Saturday | Sunday
     Social Media @SIU_Baseball

    LEADING OFF The Southern Illinois baseball team will play its penultimate regular-season series of 2013 as it opens a three-game series against Bradley beginning Friday, May 10 at 6 p.m. The series will also mark the final three true road games of the season for the Salukis.

    FRIDAY’S STARTER Cody Forsythe will make his 13th start of the season and the 47th start of his career. He is SIU’s all-time leader in career starts and enters the weekend two innings away from matching the school’s career record of 324 and two-thirds innings pitched. In his last outing, the senior allowed a season-high six runs in six innings of work and took the loss at Purdue. Forsythe is 1-2 with a 2.70 ERA in six road starts this season. He ranks 10th in the Valley in ERA (3.16) and opposing batting average (.235).

    BRADLEY SERIES NOTES Southern Illinois leads the all-time series, 80-68-1, in a rivalry that dates back to 1952. In 2012, SIU took two out of three games at home against Bradley then edged the Braves, 9-8, in 10 innings in the second round of the MVC Tournament. SIU is 8-8 at Bradley since the Braves moved into Peoria Chiefs Stadium in 2003.

    SCOUTING THE BRAVES On Tuesday, Bradley won its second straight game, a 10-6 defeat of Eureka College. However, with a 1-14 conference record, the Braves are in last place in the Valley and have lost 12 straight conference games. Bradley is tied for the conference lead with a .295 team batting average. Senior outfielder Mike Tauchman is leading the MVC with a .413 batting average, one of the highest in the nation. However, the Braves have a team ERA of 6.06, nearly two full runs higher than the second highest in the Valley. Bradley has a team ERA of 7.25 in 15 conference games.

    MONTGOMERY MASHING In the last month, spanning 19 games, Austin Montgomery has hit .470 with six home runs, 30 RBIs and an on-base percentage of .506. During that stretch, he has raised his batting average from .284 to .365 and is now leading the conference or tied for the conference lead in hits, doubles, home runs and total bases. His 44 RBIs are one short of the conference lead.

    SEEDING SIU is currently in seventh place in the conference. With a series win over eighth-place Bradley, SIU can avoid the eighth seed in the MVC Tournament. To catch Indiana State for the sixth seed, the Salukis can afford only one Sycamore conference win or one SIU conference loss the rest of the season.

    SATURDAY, SUNDAY STARTERS On Saturday, Sam Coonrod will make his 13th start of the season. His last outing was his strongest of the last month. He allowed three earned runs in seven innings and struck out eight batters. However, he took the loss as SIU lost 5-3 to Purdue. On Sunday Aaron Snyder will make his second start of the season and the fourth of his career. It will be his first career weekend start. In his first start of the season, Snyder pitched four innings against Belmont and did not allow a hit. In his last two outings, he has pitched seven and two-thirds scoreless innings and allowed just one hit.

    KEEPING UP APPEARANCES Juniors Tyler Dray and Aaron Snyder each made their 73rd career pitching appearance this past week, moving them into a fifth place tie on SIU’s all-time list. They are also both tied for most appearances in the MVC this season with 23. Saluki closer Todd Eaton is not far behind them. He has now pitched in 69 career games, which ties him for seventh most in school history. His 21 games pitched this season ties him for fifth place in the Valley.

    WELCH LEADING IN RUNS Jake Welch is tied for the Missouri Valley Conference lead with 44 runs scored. Last year his teammate Chris Serritella scored 56 runs and became the first Saluki to lead the MVC in runs scored since Kurt Endebrock did it in 1990.

    NEECE IN THE MVC In Missouri Valley Conference games, Wes Neece is hitting .412, which ranks third in the conference. He is also leading the MVC in conference games with a .647 slugging percentage and is fourth with a .475 on-base percentage. Of the 22 games he’s started this season, 10 have been conference games.

    ROAD WOES Southern Illinois enters the weekend on a seven-game road losing streak. That is the Salukis’ longest road losing streak since dropping eight straight road games in 2001. That streak ended with a win at Bradley. SIU’s last road victory was a 25-3 win at Southeast Missouri State on April 9. Southern has lost 13 of its last 15 road contests, but the Salukis have gone 10-4 at home during that stretch.

    LIGHTS OUT Reliever Tyler Dray has allowed only one earned run over his last 19 appearances. During that stretch, he has recorded 16 strikeouts and allowed 11 hits in 18 and a third of an inning of work.

    UNDER THE LIGHTS Friday’s game will be Southern Illinois’ eighth night game of the season. The Salukis are 1-6 in night games this year. Six of those games were true road contests, and the other was at neutral Rent One Park in Marion, Ill. Renovation plans call for lights to be installed at Abe Martin Field for the 2014 season.

    LOOKING AHEAD On Tuesday, May 14, SIU will wrap up its nonconference schedule against Saint Louis in Sauget, Ill. before finishing the regular season at home with a three-game series against Illinois State beginning Thursday, May 16. The MVC tournament starts on Tuesday, May 21 in Normal, Ill.