Baseball opens MVC Tournament Tuesday against Wichita State

    Cody Forsythe will make the first round start for SIU. He was named to the All-MVC Second Team on Monday.

    Cody Forsythe will make the first round start for SIU. He was named to the All-MVC Second Team on Monday.
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    May 21, 2012

    SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - The Southern Illinois University baseball team (28-27, 9-12 MVC) will open the 2012 State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament on Tuesday, May 22 at 4 p.m. against Wichita State (35-23, 12-9 MVC) in Springfield, Mo. The five-day, double-elimination tournament will conclude with the championship game on Saturday, May 26 at 7 p.m.

    Tuesday, May 22-Saturday, May 26
    Tuesday - 4 p.m., Wednesday - TBD
    Springfield, Mo.
    Hammons Field
    Probable Starters:
       Game 1:
    LHP Cody Forsythe, SIU (4-4, 2.79) vs. LHP Josh Smith, WSU (6-3, 2.82)
    All tournament games scheduled before 4 p.m. will be broadcast on WFRX 1300-AM. All SIU tournament games scheduled for 4 p.m. or later will be broadcast on WVZA 105.1-FM.

    Game Notes

    TUESDAY’S STARTER Cody Forsythe will make his 15th start of the season. He was named First Team All-MVC on Monday. In his last outing, he allowed two hits in six scoreless innings and matched a career high with 11 strikeouts. In his last five starts, he is 2-3 with a 1.17 ERA. He enters the tournament six and a third innings away from becoming the first Saluki pitcher to throw at least 100 innings in multiple seasons.

    WICHITA STATE SERIES NOTES SIU trails the all-time series against Wichita State, 32-92. The Shockers won two out of three when the schools met in Wichita in the regular season. The first game of the series lasted 10 innings. Southern hit .292 in that series and held the Shockers to a .240 average. Tuesday will be the 25th time that SIU plays Wichita State in the MVC Tournament. Southern is 7-20 all-time against the Shockers in the tournament. Wichita State has won each of the last seven and 15 of the last 16 MVC Tournament games against SIU. The Salukis last MVC Tournament win against Wichita State was May 22, 2003.

    SCOUTING THE SHOCKERS Wichita State won two out of three games against Creighton to finish the regular season in third place in The Valley. The Shockers enter the tournament having won seven of their last eight games. Wichita State ranks fourth in the MVC with a .281 batting average. Johnny Coy leads the team with a .352 average. He was named First Team All-MVC as a designated hitter. The Shockers 3.35 team ERA is third lowest in the conference. Tuesday’s starter Josh Smith is 6-3 with a 2.82 ERA and has held opponents to a .237 average in 2012. Smith was named an All-MVC Honorable Mention. Closer Cale Elam was named Second Team All-MVC. He has nine saves and a 2.09 ERA.

    COMING IN HOT During a sweep of IPFW this past weekend, SIU hit .387. The Salukis recorded 41 hits and drew 26 walks in the three-game series. That raised the team’s season average from .288 to .294, which is tied with Indiana State for the second highest average in the conference. SIU enters the Valley Tournament on a three-game winning streak for the first time since sweeping Evansville to conclude the 2009 regular season.

    SIVERTSEN’S SLUGGING Senior Jordan Sivertsen hit a three-run homer in his final game at Abe Martin Field to give him 12 home runs on the season. He homered in each of his last two regular season games to surpass teammate Chris Seritella for the MVC lead. Sivertsen is tied with Serritella with 28 career home runs, third most in school history.

    SERRITELLA’S STREAK Chris Serritella has a hit in 29 of his last 30 games and enters the weekend with a career-best 21-game hitting streak, the longest by anyone in the Missouri Valley Conference this season. He has hit .411 during the hitting streak to raise his season average to .394. With a 31 point lead in the batting race, Serritella is the first SIU player to win the MVC batting title since P.J. Finigan hit .388 in 2005 and has a chance to be the first Saluki to hit .400 since Braden Gibbs hit .412 in 1994.

    LEADOFF HITTING Over the last three games, leadoff hitter Jake Welch is hitting .538 (7-for-13) with seven RBIs to raise his season average to .305. He also has two triples, a double and two stolen bases. His team leading five triples are the most by a Saluki since P.J. Finigan had five triples in 2004 and 2005. His team leading 14 stolen bases are the most by an SIU player since 2006.

    HISTORIC SEASON Chris Serritella leads the MVC with 144 total bases. He is three total bases away from tying the single season school record of 147, which is held by Robert Jones and Gerry Pitchford. Serritella’s 85 hits are tied for seventh most by a Saluki in a single season. Kevin Koski set the school record with 92 hits in 2005. DOUBLE VISION SIU hitters lead the MVC with 117 doubles this season. That toal is in the top 15 among all Division I teams and the third highest total in school history. The school record is 125 doubles, set in 1990. Chris Serritella leads the MVC and set a new school record with 24 doubles on the year. His 51 career doubles are also tied for the most in school history.

    ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM The All-MVC Team was announced on Monday. The Salukis matched Indiana State and Missouri State for the most first team representatives with three. That is the most fist teamers SIU has had since 1990, which is the last time Southern won the MVC Tournament. The Salukis also have four players on the second team. SIU’s first teamers include Chris Serritella at first base, left fielder Jordan Sivertsen and Austin Montgomery who was named as a utility player. Saluki pitchers Todd Eaton, Cody Forsythe and Cameron Maldonado were all named to the second team along with designated hitter Brock Harding.

    MALDONADO UPDATE Pitcher Cameron Maldonado is day-to-day and could potentially make a start in the tournament. Maldonado has made 12 starts for the Salukis this season but has not appeared in a game since leaving his start with shoulder pain on May 5 at Illinois State. Maldonado has pitched in 27 games, all of them starts, for SIU over the past two seasons.

    SEEDING HISTORY This is the first time SIU has been the sixth seed in the MVC Tournament since 2000. That year the Salukis also opened the tournament against Wichita State. Southern had been a four or five seed in each of the past six seasons.

    LOOKING AHEAD With a win on Tuesday, SIU will play at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday against the winner of Tuesday night’s game between Missouri State and Bradley. If the Salukis lose their first round game, they will play the loser of the Missouri State-Bradley game at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday. SIU is 8-2 all-time against Bradley in the MVC Tournament and 4-7 all-time against Missouri State in the MVC Tournament.