FORT MYERS, Fla. - The FGCU Baseball team hits the road for the second time this season as the defending A-Sun Champions will battle conference foe USC Upstate in a three-game set this weekend in Spartanburg, S.C.
Game one, which is scheduled for a 4 p.m. start on Friday (moved up two hours due to the forecasted rain on Friday night in the area) will feature a pitching matchup that is as good as any in the A-Sun this season when Upstate's Matt Branham, 2009 MLB Draft Pick by the Houston Astros, will face off against FGCU's Chris Sale (Lakeland, Fla.), the top pitching prospect in the Cape Cod League last summer and currently projected by Baseball America as the eighth pick in this June's draft.
Despite 12 players this weekend entering the series with a batting average above .300 (eight FGCU batters and four Upstate players), the pitching matchups stand out, with Upstate’s Phillip Brannon and his 2.00 ERA set to take on Richie Erath (West Palm Beach, Fla.) and his 1.12 ERA in the first game Saturday before Austin Moyer and his 9.6 strikeouts per game facing off against FGCU's Pete Woodworth (St. Petersburg, Fla.) and his 0.69 ERA.
Through 11 games this season, FGCU as a team has a batting average of .348, with eight regulars hitting .325 or higher, led by junior Luke Smierciak’s (Gainesville, Fla.) .405 average. The Blue and Green have outscored their opponents 102-57 thus far and have a pitching staff that has an ERA of 3.80 with 116 strikeouts against 33 walks.
The Spartans, who are led by head coach Matt Fincher, return four starters and 17 lettermen from a team that went 17-37 overall and 7-23 in conference in 2009. Upstate is hitting .263 as a team and are currently 7-7 on the season.
Following the opening contest on Friday March 12 (4 p.m.), the Eagles and Spartans meet again on Saturday for an afternoon double header with games scheduled for a 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. first pitch, respectively.
FGCU-USC Upstate Series Information
Streaming Video: ASun.TV
Live Stats: www.UpstateSpartans.com
Series: FGCU Leads 4-2
Last Meeting: 4/25/09 FGCU 8, Upstate 4 at Swanson Stadium
Probable Pitching Matchups
Fri., March 12
Upstate: Matt Branham, Sr., RH, 1-2, 2.60 vs. FGCU: Chris Sale, Jr., LH, 0-0, 1.38
Sat., March 13
Upstate: Phillip Brannon, Jr., RH, 1-1, 2.00 vs. FGCU: Richie Erath, Jr., RH, 2-0, 1.12
Sat., March 13
Upstate: Austin Moyer, So., RH, 1-1, 3.60 vs. FGCU: Pete Woodworth, Sr., RH, 3-0, 0.69