After a much needed two-day break, the Salukis are ready to pick up their gloves, bats and, they hope, brooms.
SIU will return to action after five games in five days in a conference series against Bradley starting 3 p.m. Friday at Abe Martin Field. The last home series for SIU resulted in the Salukis’ first sweep of the season.
The sweep came against Wisconsin-Milwaukee and all three games were won in come-from-behind fashion. Pitching coach Tim Dixon said the team showed a lot of character during the series and it will help against Bradley.
“It’s exciting that they know now that they can do it,” Dixon said. “If they’re down by a couple runs, they have the confidence to know they can win and there is nothing better than that.”
The successful sweep was immediately followed by a blowout victory Monday against Murray State and blowout loss against Southeast Missouri State Tuesday. The five consecutive games is the longest stretch of games SIU (18-12) will have all season.
Junior starting pitcher Cody Adams said the team didn’t end the five-game stretch the way it wanted to, but it prepared them for this weekend.
“I think people might have started getting a little tired at the end,” Adams said. “I don’t think there will be much thought on it and now we just have to come out hard this weekend.”
Adams is penciled in as the starter Friday and is bringing a 2-2 record and 3.53 earned run average into the contest. Adams was roughed up in his last start, surrendering 11 hits and four earned runs in 5.2 innings against Wisconsin-Milwaukee April 4.
Bradley’s Rob Scahill is projected to oppose Adams in game one. Scahill is 3-2 on the season with a 4.50 ERA and only two home runs allowed.
The Saluki bats have been hot recently as they have posted 41 runs in their last five games. Junior catcher Mark Kelly leads the Salukis with 38 hits and 28 RBIs while junior Bret Maugeri boasts the team’s best batting average at .361.
The Braves (13-15) counter with Dan Brewer who leads the team in batting average at a .326 clip and in steals with nine, while Colby Luttrell leads the team with 18 RBIs to go with 31 hits.
Dixon said Bradley will be a good challenge, but a conference sweep is important at this point in the season.
“Every Missouri Valley Conference game is a battle,” Dixon said. “You always want to sweep but it is important to go about it one game at a time. You can’t afford to look ahead.”
The series will continue 2 p.m. Saturday and conclude at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Jeff Engelhardt can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 269 or [email protected]