Salukis host first place Illinois State in final regular season series

    Senior Cody Forsythe will make his final start at Abe Martin Field on Thursday.

    Senior Cody Forsythe will make his final start at Abe Martin Field on Thursday.
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    May 15, 2013

    Illinois State (33-18, 13-5 MVC) vs. Southern Illinois (24-28, 6-12 MVC)
     Date Thursday, May 16-Saturday, May 18
     Time Thursday - 3 p.m., Friday - 3 p.m., Saturday - 1 p.m. (All times Central)
     Location Abe Martin Field - Carbondale, Ill. 
     Probables Thu. - RHP Chris Razo (6-1, 1.34 ERA) vs. LHP Cody Forsythe (3-4, 3.07 ERA)
    Sat. - RHP Dan Savas (8-0, 2.19 ERA) vs. RHP Sam Coonrod (3-4, 4.06 ERA)
    Sun. - RHP Brad Sorkin (7-4, 3.59 ERA) vs. TBA
     Radio All three games live on 1300 WFRX-AM and streaming live on Saluki All-Access.
     Video Saluki All-Access
     Game Notes Southern Illinois Get Acrobat Reader | Illinois State Get Acrobat Reader
     Live Stats Thursday | Friday | Saturday
     Social Media @SIU_Baseball

    LEADING OFF The Southern Illinois baseball team will close the regular season at home with a three-game series against Missouri Valley Conference leading Illinois State. The series starts Thursday at 3 p.m. and will mark the final three games at the current Abe Martin Field. 

    THURSDAY’S STARTER Cody Forsythe will make his 14th start of the season and his 48th career start. The senior is 2-2 with a 2.42 ERA in six conference starts this season. In his 21st and final career conference start, Forsythe will be trying to earn his 12th conference win. It will also be his 21st and final start at Abe Martin Field. With two strikeouts on Thursday, he will match Eugene Vincent for fifth most in school history.

    ILLINOIS STATE SERIES NOTES Southern Illinois leads the all-time series, 82-78. It is one of SIU’s oldest rivalries and dates back to 1948. Southern has lost eight of its last nine matchups with the Redbirds, including a three-game sweep in Normal last spring. However, the Salukis have faired much better at home against ISU. SIU has won four of the last five three-game series against the Redbirds at Abe Martin Field, posting a record of 11-4 in those games.

    SCOUTING THE REDBIRDS Illinois State has won its last six weekend series and took two out of three at home against Evansville last weekend. The Redbirds are in first place with a 13-5 record in the Missouri Valley Conference and can clinch the regular season title with a sweep. Illinois State is tied for the conference lead with a .296 team batting average. Eric Aguilera leads the team with a .374 average, which is second in the Valley. He also leads the league with 52 RBI. The Redbirds are fourth in the Valley with a 3.56 team ERA. However, they are tops in the conference in league play with a 2.68 ERA. Their top two starters, Chris Razo and Dan Savas are a combined 14-1 with a 1.80 ERA this season.

    RETURNING HOME After seven consecutive road or neutral site games, Southern returns to Carbondale for its first home games since May 1. SIU has won five of its last seven home games and is 14-7 overall at home this season. SIU can match its home win total of 17 from a year ago with a three-game sweep. At Abe Martin Field, the Salukis are hitting .290 and holding their opponents to a .234 batting average.

    FRIDAY, SATURDAY STARTERS On Saturday, Sam Coonrod will make his 14th start of the season. In his last outing, he allowed five runs off five hits in four and a third innings of work against Bradley and took a no-decision in a game that SIU won, 9-7. In six starts at Abe Martin Field this season, the sophomore is 3-1 with a 2.63 ERA. The Salukis have not named a starter for Saturday’s game.

    SEEDING Entering the weekend, SIU currently holds the seventh seed but has a slim chance of obtaining the sixth seed. Indiana State’s magic number to clinch the sixth seed and relegate the Salukis to the seventh seed is two. Any combination of Indiana State conference wins or SIU conference losses totaling two would lock Southern into the seventh seed. Indiana State will be at home this weekend against Bradley, who is 1-17 in the Valley.

    TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE If SIU wins at least one game this weekend, it will give Wichita State the outright conference title and lock Illinois State into the second seed. That would mean the seventh-seeded Salukis would face Illinois State in the first round on Tuesday at 7:37 p.m. in Normal. The Redbirds can clinch the league title only with a sweep this weekend. That would mean the seventh-seeded Salukis would open the tournament against second-seeded Wichita State at 12:37 p.m. Tuesday. If Southern moves up to the sixth seed, it would face the winner of this weekend’s Creighton-Missouri State series at 4:07 p.m. on Tuesday.

    EATON SAVES NOTES Todd Eaton has saved three of SIU’s last five wins. He enters the weekend tied with Wichita State’s Brandon Peterson for the MVC lead with nine saves. That matches Eaton’s season total from 2012. With his next save, Eaton would become the fifth player in school history to record 10 saves in a season. One more save would also give him 20 for his career. He is currently tied with Al Levine for second in school history.

    UPGRADING ABE This will be the final series played at the current Abe Martin Field. Following the season, construction will begin on a major renovation of Abe Martin Field, which will re-open as Richard “Itchy” Jones Stadium for the 2014 season. The renovation will include the installation of stadium lights, new dugouts and a new synthetic playing surface. In addition, the current bleachers will be removed and replaced with a new state-of-the-art grandstand, concourse and press box.

    MIDDLE INFIELD PRODUCTION Since moving from shortstop, Ryan Rosthenhausler is hitting .400 in four games as SIU’s starting second baseman. He was hitting .245 in 45 starts at shortstop. Rosthenhausler matched a season high for hits with a three-for-three performance in Tuesday’s game at Saint Louis. Meanwhile Jake Welch has continued at a .318 clip at the plate in six games since moving to shorstop. He’s hitting .316 on the season.

    BROKEN STREAKS In Tuesday’s game at Saint Louis, Jake Welch went 0-for-3 to snap his 10-game hitting streak, and Austin Montgomery saw his nine-game hitting streak end with an 0-for-2 night.

    MVC CAREER INNINGS LIST Cody Forsythe enters the weekend with 330 and two-thirds career innings pitched, which ranks 20th all-time in Missouri Valley Conference history. He can move into a tie for 16th on the list by tossing five innings in his start on Thursday.

    The Last Meeting
    Southern Illinois1
    Illinois State8
    May 6, 2012
    Normal, Ill.
    Baseball swept at Illinois State with 8-1 loss Sunday
    The Salukis (25-23, 9-9 MVC) dropped their third game in a row in Normal as the offense struggled against the Redbirds (26-16, 8-8 MVC).