Salukis open MVC Tournament Tuesday against Evansville

    Junior Sam Coonrod will start Tuesday's game against Evansville.

    Junior Sam Coonrod will start Tuesday's game against Evansville.
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    May 19, 2014

    2014 Missouri Valley Conference Tournament
    No. 8 SIU Salukis (25-29, 4-17 MVC) vs. No. 1 Evansville Purple Aces (34-19, 15-6 MVC)
     Date Tuesday, May 20 - Saturday, May 24
     Time (CT) Tue. - 11:37 a.m. CT, Wed.-Sat. - TBD
     Location Bob Warn Field - Terre Haute, Ind. 
    Tournament Central
     Game 1
    SIU: RHP Sam Coonrod (1-6, 3.04 ERA)
    UE: LHP Kyle Freeland (10-1, 1.62 ERA)
     Game 2
    SIU: RHP Todd Eaton (3-2, 3.73 ERA)
     Radio Tue. - 1300 WFRX-AM. All day games on 1300 WFRX-AM and all night games on 105.1 WVZA-FM
    All games stream live on Salukis All-Access. Mike Reis will call the play-by-play. 
     Video Game 1 | All games on ESPN3. Championship on Fox Sports Midwest
     Game Notes Southern Illinois Get Acrobat Reader | Evansville Get Acrobat ReaderMVC Get Acrobat Reader
     Live Stats Stat Broadcast | Game 1
     Season Stats Southern Illinois | Evansville | MVC
     All-Time Series Overall: SIU leads, 95-60.  In MVC Tourament: Evansville leads, 4-2
     Social Media @SIU_Baseball  | @SIU_Baseball  | Saluki Athletics 

    LEADING OFF Southern Illinois will begin their competition in the 2014 Missouri Valley Conference with a first-round matchup with MVC regular season champion Evansville on Tuesday at 11:37 a.m. The game will feature two of the conference’s top college pitching prospects with Sam Coonrod and Kyle Freeland.

    TUESDAY’S STARTER Sam Coonrod will make his 15th start of the season and his 40th career start, tied for sixth on SIU’s all-time starts list. In his last outing, Coonrod allowed seven runs, only one of them earned, in 4.2 innings at Dallas Baptist. He has allowed two earned runs in 17.0 innings over his last three outings and has allowed two runs in his last 20.2 innings of work.

    WEDNESDAY’S STARTER Todd Eaton will make his 15th start of the season and 89th career appearance, which ranks fourth in school history. In seven conference starts this season, he went 2-0 with a 2.86 ERA, which ranks 10th in the Valley. He leads the team with 89.1 innings pitched, which is tied for third-most in the MVC. He will face either Illinois State or Wichita on Wednesday. In his two combined starts against those two schools this year, he put together a 1.56 ERA in 17.1 innings of work. He was named MVC Pitcher of the Week after holding the Redbirds to one run in 10.0 innings of work on April 26.

    EVANSVILLE SERIES NOTES SIU leads the all-time series by a margin of 95-60. However, Evansville has won four of the six meetings with the Salukis in the MVC Tournament. The last time these two teams faced each other in the conference tournament was 2010. SIU has dropped its last two MVC Tournament games against the Aces. The Dawgs last conference tournament win over EU was a 10-9 victory on May 25, 2005. This will be the fourth time the Salukis open the MVC Tournament against the Aces. Earlier this season, Evansville won two out of three games in Carbondale. Tuesday’s game is a pitching rematch of of the May 2 game which SIU lost, 4-2, in 11 innings. SIU is 7-7 overall against the Aces under head coach Ken Henderson.

    SCOUTING THE PURPLE ACES On Thursday, Evansville clinched its first MVC regular season title since 2006 with a win over Missouri State but then dropped the final two games of the series. The Aces lead the conference with a .284 team batting average and hit .291 in conference games. That is 22 points higher than any other team in the Valley. UE is led by All-MVC outfielder Kevin Kaczmarski, who hit .322 in the regular season and is tied for the conference lead with 50 RBIs. The Aces have a 4.14 team ERA, which is the second-highest ERA in the league. However, the staff is anchored by Kyle Freeland, one of the best pitchers in the nation. Freeland is 10-1 with a 1.62 ERA. The rest of the staff is 24-18 with a 4.80 ERA.

    FOUR SALUKIS EARN ALL-MVC SIU senior DH Cody Daily and freshman relief pitcher Kyle Pauly have both been selected to the All-Missouri Valley Conference Second Team, the conference announced Monday. In addition, senior starting pitcher Todd Eaton and senior first baseman Ryan Casillas earned All-Conference honorable mentions.

    OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT In each of the past two years, SIU has won its first game in the MVC Tournament despite being the lower-ranked seed. Ken Henderson has a 3-1 record with the Salukis in the first game of the conference tournment. That includes his tenure as interim head coach at the end of the 1994 season. The Salukis have not opened the tournament with a win in three consecutive years since they did it in 2003 through 2005.

    SIU’S AT-BATS RECORD Senior Jake Welch enters the tournament with 886 career at-bats at SIU. That is eight at-bats away from becoming the school’s all-time career at-bats leader. Kevin Koski is currently Southern’s all-time at-bats leader with 893. Welch also ranks in SIU’s top 10 for career games played, runs, hits, and walks.

    NOTABLE PITCHING NUMBERS SIU is third in the MVC with a team ERA of 3.56 and second in the Valley with a .241 opponents batting average. That is the Salukis’ lowest team ERA since posting a 3.38 ERA in 2005. This is just the second year since 1991 that Southern has posted a sub-4.00 team ERA. The .241 opponents batting average is the Salukis’ lowest since 1982.

    TIGHT GAMES Southern Illinois leads the nation with 24 one-run games and 12 extra-inning games. Eight of SIU’s 17 conference losses were one run games. Five of the Salukis’ conference losses were extra-inning games. The Salukis are 1-8 in one-run conference games and 9-6 in one-run nonconference games. SIU went 2-5 in extra-inning conference games. 

    TURNING TWO SIU’s defense turned four double plays this weekend against Dallas Baptist. The Salukis have now turned 10 double plays in their last six games and lead the MVC with 50 double plays. The Saluki defense also led the Valley in 2013 with 55 double plays.

    KEEPING UP APPEARANCES Five current members of the Saluki pitching staff are on the top 10 list for most appearances in school history. Closer Tyler Dray is the active leader with 95 career appearances. That ranks third in SIU history. Eaton is fourth on the list with 88 appearances while Matt Murphy, Aaron Snyder and Lee Weld rank fifth, seventh and ninth, respectively. Murphy is tied for third on the team this season with 19 appearances. 

    FRESHMEN PITCHERS SIU freshmen have thrown 162.2 of the Salukis’ 495.1 innings this season. That is 32.8 percent, the highest percentage in the conference. SIU’s five freshmen pitchers have combined for a 3.26 ERA. 

    LOOKING AHEAD SIU will face either Illinois State or Wichita State on Wednesday in its second game of the tourney. With a win Tuesday, the Salukis would play at 3 p.m. Central Time. With a loss Tuesday, they would play at 8 a.m. SIU was swept on the road against both the Redbirds and the Shockers this year.