CARBONDALE — SIU senior right-hander Chad Whitmer will try to win his fourth straight decision Friday night against the 16th-ranked team in the country.
Missouri State (30-14, 11-0 Missouri Valley Conference) has won 15 straight league games, dating back to last season, tied for the fourth-longest in Valley history. The Bears and Salukis (23-23, 6-6) kick off a three-game set at 6:30 p.m. with Whitmer (5-3, 3.74 ERA) and lefty Jordan Knutson (5-2, 3.84 ERA) on center stage.
Whitmer won his second MVC pitcher of the week honor in the last three weeks Monday after helping the Salukis take the first game of a three-game series against 26th-ranked Tennessee Tech. The senior right-hander allowed five hits and one run in SIU's 4-1 win over Dallas Baptist last weekend, the Salukis' only win of their series against the Patriots.
Whitmer has pitched more than seven innings in each of his last three starts. He has won four of his last five decisions, and has struck out 27 batters in his last three starts.
Knutson leads the MVC with 391 strikeouts.
SIU will try to win the first home game in the series between the two teams since 2014. The Bears swept a three-game series in Carbondale in 2015, while the Salukis won three in a row in Springfield, Missouri, last year.
SIU sits tied with Wichita State for fourth place in the league. Missouri State leads Dallas Baptist by four games in the loss column with nine left in the regular season.
Missouri State entered the USA Today coaches poll at No. 26 Monday. Before losing at Kansas Wednesday night, the Bears' nine-game winning streak was the longest active streak in the NCAA. It was Missouri State's first loss since falling at New Mexico April 14.