The Salukis will look to avenge a three-game sweep last season at the hands of Jacksonville State when the Gamecocks come to Abe Martin Field this weekend.
“They’re not playing extremely well,” said coach Ken Henderson. “I’ve seen that they’ve been beat some, but they play
good people and it’ll be a challenge.”
SIU (8-5) starts its three-game series Friday against Jacksonville State (2-8). When the Salukis played the Gamecocks in a three-game series during the 2011 season, SIU scored only three runs on their way to getting swept.
“They were a better team than us,” Henderson said. “They have some guys who can really swing the bat. They were probably one of the four or five best teams we played last year.”
Jacksonville State senior third baseman Sam Eberle drilled Saluki pitching last season as he drove in seven runs on four hits. He’s batting .282 this season with three runs batted in, all off solo home runs.
Last season, SIU entered its three-game series in Jacksonville with a 4-7.
“We were just playing bad baseball,” said sophomore shortstop Jake Welch, who went 2-for-12 in last season’s series. “We were pretty young last year, and our pitching, our hitting and our defense were all question marks.”
Jacksonville State had 31 hits against the Salukis last season, but the tables have turned as SIU is the hot-hitting team entering this season’s series. As a team, the Salukis hit .293 with 84 runs batted in, while Jacksonville State manages a measly .227 average and 29 runs batted in.
“They’re an (Ohio Valley Conference) team. There are a lot of bats (in that league). That’s how they beat us last year. They just out-hit the crap out of us,” said sophomore outfielder Nick Johnson.
Henderson said they expect to start their normal weekend rotation, with junior left-handed pitcher Cody Forsythe receiving the call Friday. He started the Saturday game against Jacksonville State last season and picked up the loss, pitching six and a third innings, giving up four earned runs on eight hits.
Senior right-handed pitcher Cameron Maldonado will take the bump Saturday. He also started one of the games against Jacksonville State last season, picking up the loss after six innings and giving up three earned runs on nine hits. He has a 7.71 earned run average in three starts this season.
Junior left-handed pitcher Nathan Dorris will pitch against the Gamecocks in the third game of the series. He’s won all three starts this season, posting a 3.44 earned run average with 16 strikeouts.
Jacksonville State is expected to start senior right-handed pitcher Aaron Elias, sophomore right-handed pitcher Bradley Raulston and senior left-handed pitcher Daniel Watts.