SIUE (7-19, 3-9 OVC) at
Eastern Kentucky (12-17, 5-4 OVC)
EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – SIUE baseball must contend with Mother Nature again this weekend. The Cougars resume Ohio Valley Conference play at Eastern Kentucky. The teams have already adjusted the series to prepare for inclement weather.
The Cougars and Colonels will play a doubleheader beginning at 12 p.m. CT Friday to open the series. The series finale currently is scheduled for Saturday, but could be shifted to Sunday.
SIUE has adjusted its starting rotation for the first time since the second weekend of the year as regular starter Nelson Martz gets a week off. Left-hander Ryan Byrd makes his seventh start of the year in Friday's opener. He will be followed by right-hander Brock Fulkerson. Fulkerson has made just two starts this year. Righty Kenny Serwa gets the ball in game three. Serwa is coming off an eight-inning victory over Belmont last weekend.
"Nelson (Martz) needs a little more time," SIUE Sean Lyons said. "So Brock Fulkerson will return to the rotation. That's not a concern. We trust in Brock. He has done it before and has had success in this role. We feel like those guys will be good to go, and we look forward to having Nellie back next weekend."
The Cougars are coming off their first OVC series win of the year, last weekend at Belmont. SIUE is 3-9 in league play. The Cougars are 7-19 overall.
"Where we're at in the league and with the teams we are playing every weekend is important," Lyons said. "We have to continue to climb the ladder and get ourselves up into the mix. We just have to play good baseball and continue to try to get better every week."
The Cougars are sixth in the OVC with a 6.10 earned run average.
"We haven't shown the ability to score a bunch of runs," Lyons added. "We have to excel in other areas, which means excelling on the mound and excelling defensively. That's what this team has to do to be successful."
The offense has shown signs of improvement. The Cougars hit .280 in the series win over Belmont with seven doubles.
"It's encouraging to see what the offense has been doing," Lyons said. "Hopefully it's starting to wake up a little bit."
Jordan Ross has been the Cougars' catalyst. The leadoff hitter is working on an eight-game hitting streak and hit .462 last weekend.
"Jordan has done a nice job of getting on base especially early in games," Lyons said. "We have stressed with him the importance of on-base percentage. We want him to be a guy who can set the table for the 3-4-5 guys in the order."
Eastern Kentucky is 12-17 overall and 5-4 in OVC play. SIUE has never won a series at EKU and the Colonels hold a 15-9 edge in the all-time series.
"They're a pretty good offensive ball club," Lyons said of the Colonels. "It's going to take a good effort from us on the mound. It comes back to just playing solid baseball. I am looking forward to a good series this weekend."
Probable Pitching Matchups