Baseball: Salukis on a roll

By Gus Bode

Having won seven of its last eight outings, the SIU baseball team is ready to start conference play with plenty of momentum.

The Salukis will take on Illinois State in a three-game series starting at 2 p.m. today at Abe Martin Field.

Home has been kind to SIU as its win over Murray State Wednesday pushed the Salukis’ record to 11-1 in Carbondale.

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Senior Jordan Powell will take the mound for SIU (16-6) in the first game with plenty of momentum himself.

Powell pitched seven innings, allowing only two runs, in his win against Western Michigan March 16.

Should Powell need some help out of the pen, freshman Tyler Choate said he should be ready to go.

“I just pitched (Wednesday), but hopefully I’ll be able to get back in there,” Choate said. “As far as conference play goes, I’m not quite sure what to expect because this is going to be my first rodeo.”

The Saluki offense should revolve around catcher Mark Kelly, who drove in two runs in SIU’s 7-4 win against Murray State Wednesday.

Kelly, who owns the MVC’s top batting average at .462, said he hopes to be behind the plate for all three games.

“I’m a competitor so I want to be out there everyday,” Kelly said. “The pitchers are really comfortable with me out there, as well.”

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Despite the winning streak and home record, the Salukis’ left side of the infield has been cause for concern as of late.

Freshman shortstop Michael Finigan and sophomore third baseman Scott Elmendorf combined for three errors Wednesday. The duo has 22 combined errors this season.

Saluki coach Dan Callahan said he’s seen things he likes this season, but there have also been some things he hasn’t been pleased with.

“I saw things like our defense in the eighth inning I didn’t like,” Callahan said. “But our record shows we’re in good shape right now.”

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