Saluki baseball enters its final conference series of the season on a down note after the team was swept last weekend.
“It was just a bad weekend for us. We probably played our worst baseball of the year,” said junior first baseman Chris Serritella. “It was definitely an unfortunate time to do it.”
SIU (25-23, 9-9 Missouri Valley Conference) will take on second-place Indiana State (36-12, 10-5 MVC) in a three-game series starting at 3 p.m. today at Abe Martin Field. The Salukis have lost five of their last seven games, as well as one of their starting pitchers, senior right-hander Cameron Maldonado.
Maldonado (6-1, 5.71 ERA) left in the fifth inning of Saturday’s 5-3 loss to Illinois State with pain in his arm, but coach Ken Henderson said the injury is just a muscle strain and Maldonado’s status will be day-to-day.
Henderson said, junior left-hander Nathan Dorris (6-3, 4.77 ERA) will replace Maldonado on Saturday unless something miraculous happens between now and then. Junior left-hander Cody Forsythe (3-3, 3.12 ERA) will pitch Friday and freshman right-hander Sam Coonrod (2-4, 5.71 ERA) will take the mound Sunday.
Indiana State is 11-3 in its last 14 games, which senior outfielder Jordan Sivertsen said isn’t much of a surprise. He said he thought the team would have been picked higher than fourth in the preseason MVC poll.
“They have a lot of guys back, and they’re pretty good,” Sivertsen said. “They can hit real well, and they have good pitchers.”
The Sycamores return all nine starters from last year’s team, which lost two of three games to the Salukis last season. Junior catcher Jeremy Lucas leads the team in all triple crown categories with a .353 batting average, nine home runs and 49 RBIs. His 65 hits this season are second in the Valley only to Serritella, who has 74.
Indiana State also features two pitchers with sub — 3.00 ERA’s with junior right-handers Dakota Bacus (5-3, 1.98 ERA) and Ryan Torgerson (7-2, 2.92 ERA), who will pitch today and Sunday respectively. Saturday’s starter will be sophomore left-hander Sean Manaea (4-1, 3.07 ERA).
This series will be the last conference series before the MVC tournament, which starts May 22.