Creighton Bluejays (15-17, 2-7 MVC) at Southern Illinois Salukis (19-18, 5-4 MVC)
- Friday:3:00 p.m., Carbondale
- Saturday: 2:00 p.m.
- Sunday: 1:00 p.m.
Creighton hits the road for a weekend conference series against Southern Illinois. The Salukis are 5-4 in Missouri Valley Conference play, but haven’t faced a MVC foe since taking two of three games at home against Evansville during Easter weekend. The Jays also lost their series against the Purple Aces; Creighton has only two MVC victories and sits in last place in the league.
John Bishop and David Gustafson will broadcast the games live from Carbondale. You can hear CU baseball on KOIL AM 1180 Friday afternoon and on KOZN AM 1620 Saturday and Sunday. You can also track live stats here, and/or get in-game updates via Twitter updates at @gocreighton and @CU_baseball.
Weather dampened Creighton’s weekend plans. A scheduled return by former head coach Jack Dahm and his Iowa Hawkeyes was washed away by Saturday’s storms. The Jays did get their games in Friday and Sunday against South Dakota State, splitting the meetings with the Jackrabbits.
Friday night, Stephen Bougher returned home and defeated the Bluejays in a 5-2 SDSU win. Bougher, from Papio-La Vista South, surrendered just one run in 7.1 innings, while Erik Mattingly and four CU relievers couldn’t keep the Jackrabbit bats at bay. Mike Gerber went 3-3 at the plate but no other CU batter could muster more than a single hit. Chance Ross and Anthony Bemboom knocked in Creighton’s runs.
Sunday, Creighton climbed back in the late innings to take a win away from SDSU. Trailing 5-4 in the eighth inning, Gerber led off the bottom of the frame with a double. Michael Mutcheson singled him to third base, and Gerber scored on Jake Peter’s groundout to first base. Mutcheson advanced to third on the play and scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch one batter later.
The Bluejays didn’t have a game between Sunday’s win and this weekend’s trip to SIU. The Salukis, on the other hand, beat Tennessee-Martin 10-3 Wednesday night to snap a four-game losing streak. After losing a midweek game to Southeast Missouri State the previous week, the Salukis spent last weekend in Dallas getting torched in a three-game sweep by Dallas Baptist.
SIU led 5-0 last Friday before Dallas Baptist outscored the Dawgs 11-3 over the final four innings to post an 11-8 victory. The Salukis led 3-0 in the top of the second inning Saturday before surrendering an 8-spot in the bottom of the second and eventually losing 12-8. Another big inning did SIU in on Sunday, as the Salukis gave up a 6-run eighth inning after being locked in a 5-5 tie with DBU, losing 11-6.
The Salukis lead the all-time series 60-55, with games dating back to 1979. CU won the last meeting, though, a 5-0 victory in last season’s MVC Tournament in Omaha.
On the Mound
- Friday: CU’s Erik Mattingly (0-2, 1.50 ERA) vs. SIU’s Cody Forsythe (2-1, 3.90)
- Saturday: CU’s Ty Blach (3-3, 2.80) vs. SIU’s Cameron Maldonado (5-1, 6.00)
- Sunday: CU’s Shane Liska (1-1, 2.70) vs. SIU’s Sam Coonrod (1-2, 4.04)
Perhaps this is the weekend Creighton’s offense can break out of a season-long slump. SIU posts the second-highest team ERA in the Valley (5.12). The Jays, meanwhile, are third in the league with a 3.38 ERA. Both schools have improved their ERAs in league play; CU’s is 3.07 in MVC games, while the Salukis post a 4.03 ERA in conference games.
SIU’s Forsythe, Friday’s starter, is in the top ten league-wide in innings pitched and strikeouts. Blach, formerly of the Friday spot but now starting on Saturdays, is in the top ten in ERA (2.80), opponents’ batting average (.234), innings pitched (61.0), and home runs allowed (1).
Valley teams are hitting just .217 against the Jays, while league opponents post a .259 average against SIU.
At the Plate
Nine games into their league schedule, the Bluejays can muster a paltry .197 team batting average against MVC foes. That’s 40 points lower than their season average of .238. CU’s scored just 21 runs in 9 MVC games (2.3 per). Conversely, SIU’s scoring 6.5 runs a game and hits .323 as a team in MVC play. The Salukis have a higher batting average in league games than in overall play (.303).
Chris Serritella is a name Creighton fans hope they don’t hear repeatedly this weekend. He leads the MVC in average (.383), slugging percentage (.682), hits (59), total bases (105), and home runs (10) and is among the league leaders in on base percentage (sixth), runs scored (second), RBI (second), and doubles (second). He redshirted last season while recovering from a broken wrist. Still, Kansas City selected him in the 31st round of the 2011 draft; he didn’t sign, choosing instead to come back to the SIU program.
Seven Salukis hit .300 or better. Just one Bluejay can say the same, and that’s Nick Judkins. His .317 average is tops among CU hitters, 30 points greater than the next closest regular (Ross’ .287 clip). Judkins is one off the team lead for RBI (21, Bemboom’s 22 leads the team) and total bases (51, Ross leads CU with 52).
Facts, Figures, Fodder
Gerber went 5-6 last weekend against South Dakota State, raising his average to .211… SIU head coach Ken Henderson spent last year as the team’s interim manager after the passing of long-time skipper Dan Callahan. The 2012 season is his first as the official head coach of the Salukis after being associate head coach from 1993-2010…Creighton committed six errors in three games last week. Previously, CU had committed just 22 errors total for the season… As a repercussion following his ejection from last Friday’s game, Alex Staehely didn’t start Sunday, snapping his 144-game consecutive starting streak… Staehely leads CU returners with a .400 career average against SIU… Blach has started two games against SIU in his career and doesn’t have a decision despite giving up just 3 earned runs in 12.2 innings.
Temps should be in the high 50s and low 60s all weekend.