EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – The second half of the Ohio Valley Conference baseball season begins this weekend and SIUE baseball will play host to Morehead State in a three-game series at Simmons Baseball Complex.
The series begins Friday with an earlier start. Game time has been moved to 3 p.m. to avoid rain in the forecast for later Friday evening. Saturday and Sunday each feature 1 p.m. starts.
The Cougars are 7-23 overall and 3-12 in OVC play.
"Now that we're past the halfway point in the league, the importance of every weekend is higher for everybody," SIUE Head Coach Sean Lyons said. "We need to start tallying some 'Ws' in the win column in order to get us in position to start fighting to get into the tournament."
The Cougars are coming off a 10-inning loss Wednesday against Western Illinois. SIUE collected 11 hits, but left 15 runners on base.
"We need to start playing our best baseball," Lyons added. "I think our guys realize that. We look for them to come out with some energy this weekend and try to put something together."
For the second weekend in a row, SIUE has adjusted its starting rotation. Left-hander Ryan Byrd will start Friday's series opener. Byrd is coming off his shortest outing of the year, just 1 1/3 innings, in a loss last weekend at Eastern Kentucky.
"It was uncharacteristic of him and what he has shown this year," Lyon said.
Right-hander Kenny Serwa will make the start Saturday. Serwa also suffered a loss last weekend at EKU.
"We have all the confidence that both Ryan and Kenny will bounce back from their starts last weekend," Lyons continued. "We expect them both to give us good efforts and good outings this weekend."
Sunday's starter is still to be determined.
"It's going to depend on who we use out of the bullpen in game one and game two," Lyons said. "We'll just try to get a feel of what the best matchup will be on Sunday."
Morehead State is 20-14 and 8-4 in OVC play. The Eagles have played much of the year without Niko Hulsizer, the OVC preseason Player of the Year.
"They were a little banged up at the beginning of the year," Lyons said. "Hulsizer is back and with the quality of player that he is it's a kick-start for that lineup. Having him back in the lineup last weekend boosted their confidence. We have to minimize his impact."
Probable Pitching Matchups
Friday: SIUE LHP Ryan Byrd (0-5) vs. Morehead State RHP TJ Satterly (0-0)
Saturday: SIUE RHP Kenny Serwa (2-2) vs. Morehead State RHP Dalton Stambaugh (4-3)
Sunday: SIUE TBA vs. Morehead State RHP Kyle Cantu (3-0)