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SIU's Connor Kopach (7) is caught stealing at second base by Saint Louis shortstop Alex King in the first inning at Rent One Park in Marion last season.

CARBONDALE — You can attend the SIU baseball team's first home game of the season for free.

Today's 2 p.m. contest between the Salukis (3-5) and Louisiana-Monroe (6-2) at Jones Stadium kicks off a 27-game home schedule. SIU is expected to start senior right-hander Michael Baird (0-1, 4.50 ERA) against the Warhawks of the Sun Belt Conference.

The game will be only the second away from Monroe, Louisiana, for the Warhawks, who played at Jackson State Tuesday. Louisiana-Monroe was picked last in the Sun Belt West Division and is under a first-year head coach.

Michael Federico, the Warhawks' new leader, was formerly the pitching coach at Southern Mississippi.

SIU comes off a 3-0 win at Belmont Tuesday night in Nashville, Tennessee. Lefty Brad Harrison dominated the Bruins, allowing just two hits in a complete game shutout. Harrison, a sophomore who will also play some designated hitter for the Salukis this season, retired the last 17 batters he faced. 

Louisiana-Monroe comes off a 7-2 loss at Jackson State Tuesday. The Warhawks' only other defeat this season came against Eastern Illinois in the finale of a three-game, weekend series. 

SIU is 2-0 in mid-week games, but just 1-5 in its two weekend series so far. The Salukis got swept at Jacksonville (Alabama) State to open the season and dropped 2 of 3 at North Florida.

The Salukis are batting .259 as a team and have stolen 17 bases. SIU's team ERA is 5.11.

Louisiana-Monroe is batting .276 for the season with 72 runs in eight games. The Warhawks have a team ERA of 6.13.


On Twitter: @THefferman


Sports reporter

Todd Hefferman has covered SIU athletics since 2008. A University of Iowa grad, he is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and a Heisman Trophy voter.

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