Baseball heads to Missouri State

By Gus Bode

After treading water for the first half of the season, the SIU baseball team has an opportunity to make a move in the Missouri Valley Conference standings.

The Salukis (12-8, 2-1 MVC) picked up two wins this week against Eastern Illinois and Tennessee-Martin and head into an important series with Missouri State this weekend having won four of their last five.

Sophomore first baseman Tyler Choate said the 6-3 win Wednesday was important even though the team didn’t play particularly well against the Skyhawks.

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The Bears (15-6, 2-1) have played equally well recently winning seven of their last nine.

SIU junior right-hander Cody Adams will oppose sophomore right-hander Tim Clubb (3-0, 3.13 ERA) at noon Friday at Hammons Field when the series opens.

Adams is 2-1 with a 2.93 ERA and has a team-high 28 strikeouts. Opponents are hitting .225 against him.

Clubb is 3-0 with a 3.13 ERA and opponents are batting .256 against him.

“Our goal every series is to win two out of three,” said Saluki coach Dan Callahan. “From what we understand they have some guys that can swing the pole.”

Missouri State has a potent offense as well with three starters hitting .400 or higher.

Senior outfielder Ben Woodbury leads the Bear offense with a .433 batting average while junior third baseman Brayden Drake is right behind him with a .409 batting average.

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Drake also leads the team with 25 RBIs.

Sophomore first baseman Ben Carlson rounds out the offense with a team-high six home runs and a .403 batting average.

SIU’s offense can be dangerous as well with a trio of hitters scattered throughout their lineup leading the way.

Junior catcher Mark Kelly is batting .315 with a team-high 20 RBIs from the third spot in the lineup.

Junior second baseman Scott Elmendorf hits in front of Kelly and has a .333 batting average with a team-high 17 runs scored.

Senior shortstop Tyler Lairson turns things over in the bottom of the lineup with a team-high .400 batting average. He is also second on the team with six doubles.

Missouri State counters with a potent offense of its own, with three starters hitting .400 or above.

Senior outfielder Ben Woodbury leads the Bear offense with a .433 batting average while junior third baseman Brayden Drake is right behind him with a .409 batting average.

Drake also leads the team with 25 RBIs.

Sophomore first baseman Ben Carlson rounds out the offense with a team-high six home runs and a .403 batting average.

“It’s the MVC. It doesn’t matter what team you play,” Callahan said. “Every team has some good pitching and good hitting, so we have to be ready for that.”

Missouri State is 8-2 at home this season while the Salukis are 2-1 on opponent’s home fields.

Saturday’s 5 p.m. start will feature a pair of left-handers with SIU senior Shawn Joy taking on freshman Aaron Mede. The series concludes at 1 p.m. Sunday with Saluki junior right-hander David Kington taking on sophomore left-hander Buddy Baumann.

Jeff Engelhardt contributed to this story.

Matt Hartwig can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 282 or at [email protected]

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