EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – Ohio Valley Conference play opens Friday for SIUE baseball. The Cougars will play on the road at Murray State, and weather has already forced a change to the schedule.
With rain predicted for Saturday and Sunday, the teams will open the series with a Friday doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. The series finale currently is scheduled for Saturday at 1 p.m., weather permitting.
"This is what the season is truly all about – getting into OVC play," SIUE Head Coach Sean Lyons said. "It is a long conference season. We are obviously excited to get started. It doesn't matter who you're playing, it's a battle every weekend."
The Cougars have started the season with a 4-6 record, with all 10 games coming away from home.
"We knew it would be a tough nonconference stretch prior to OVC play," Lyons said. "It was a definitely a challenge every weekend and each team provided us a different style of play that tested us. We have been tested and we are prepared heading into this weekend."
SIUE owns a 17-10 advantage in the all-time series and has a 9-6 record all-time in Murray, Kentucky.
Murray State is 7-6 overall and boasts the OVC's second-ranked offense, with a team batting average of .276.
"(Murray State) has got some guys with some pretty good (offensive) numbers," Lyons said. "I expect them to swing the bats. We're going to have to pitch well and put some runs up to give ourselves a chance down there."
The Cougars will use the same rotation they have employed in each of the last two weekend. Right-hander Nelson Martz (1-2), left-hander Ryan Byrd (0-2) and righty Kenny Serwa (1-0) will start in the series.
Serwa leads the team with 15.1 innings pitched and his 1.76 earned run average is tops among SIUE starters.
The Cougars are coming off a series win on the road at Oral Roberts, despite a slow start to the season from the offensive side.
"We are struggling a little bit offensively, but that can change on any given day," Lyons said. "It just takes one good swing of the bat to get the confidence going. We're still trying to figure out what the right piece is going to be to help get the offense turned around."
Probable Pitching Matchups:
Game One: SIUE RHP Nelson Martz (1-2) vs. MUR RHP Peyton Hayes (4.11)
Game Two: SIUE LHP Ryan Byrd (0-2) vs. MUR LHP Blake Clynes (1-0)
Game Three: SIUE RHP Kenny Serwa (1-0) vs. MUR RHP Trevor McMurray (2-1)