Spartans Set for Showdown with No. 5 South Carolina

Spartans Set for Showdown with No. 5 South Carolina

Contact: David Beall,

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate baseball team will make its way to Columbia, S.C., Tuesday evening for an in-state matchup against No. 5 South Carolina at 7 p.m.

Leading Off

  • The Spartans are coming off their third weekend series victory in as many tries, running their weekend record to 9-1 on the year.
  • Upstate is looking for its first road victory of the year after falling at Furman and Gardner-Webb in its only road contests.
  • The Spartans are outscoring their opponents by 44 runs over the first 14 games, including 31-13 over the first two innings of those contests.
  • In his 16th year at the helm of the Spartans, head coach Matt Fincher has 355 career victories.
  • Chris Cox will take the mound Tuesday for the Spartans, making his fourth start of the year and fifth appearance. He is 1-1 with a 2.70 earned run average in 13.1 innings of work. He has allowed just one extra base hit and tallied six strikeouts.
  • Following a matchup with South Carolina, Upstate returns home to open Atlantic Sun Conference action in a three-game weekend series with ETSU. The Bucs and Spartans will play Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.

Quick Hits

  • The Spartans traveled to South Carolina last season when the  Gamecocks were ranked No. 1 in the country, but Upstate's 3-0 lead in the middle of the second inning was washed away when rain and lightning entered the area and forced a cancellation.
  • The Spartans are hitting .308 as a team, while their opponents are hitting just .220 against the Upstate pitching staff.
  • Upstate pitchers have tossed 122.2 innings on the year and sport a 2.27 earned run average, currently second best in the conference.
  • The seventh inning is the only frame Upstate has not allowed a run this season, outscoring their opponents 9-0 in the seventh inning.
  • South Carolina continues to rise to the top as one of the best baseball programs in the country. Currently ranked No. 5 in the latest Collegiate Baseball Top 30 Poll, the Gamecocks have won two of the last three College World Series.
  • USC shortstop Joey Pancake is coming off a week for the ages, belting four home runs, scoring seven runs and knocking in nine runs in five games on his way to being named the Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week.
  • LB Dantzler leads the Gamecocks in batting average at .400, runs batted in with 15 and sits tied for home runs with four. His 20 hits and seven extra base hits also lead the club.
  • Furman is the only common opponent this season for Upstate and South Carolina. The Paladins fell to the Gamecocks 5-2 on Feb. 26 and turned around the following day and rallied from five runs down to beat Upstate 6-5.

WHO'S HOT: Luke Weber was an RBI machine last week, hitting .421 in four games and driving in eight runs. After a 1-for-5 performance against Gardner-Webb in mid-week action, Weber bounced back with seven hits and eight RBI in a three-game weekend series with Akron. He opened the series Friday with a 4-for-5 stint with three runs batted in and two runs scored, and followed it up Saturday with two hits, two runs batted in and two runs scored. In the weekend finale he added another hit and three more RBI, giving him eight for the week.

STREAK IS SAFE: While Tyler Lesch saw his nine-game hitting streak come to an end Sunday against Akron, his streak of reaching base safely was stretched to 10 consecutive games with a first-inning walk. Lesch is third on the team in runs scored with 11, while his 12 walks are second on the team behind leadoff hitter Jordan Stampler.

LUKE'S CANON: Luke Weber has turned into a nightmare to run against behind the plate, throwing out six of 12 base stealers this season. On March 1 against Dayton, Weber had it all working and Flyers weren't flying very far, getting gunned down in all three base stealing attempts on the day as Upstate rallied for a 4-3 victory.

PLAYING THE BEST OF THE BEST: The Spartans play a host of teams currently ranked in various top 25 polls, including a top-five opponent Tuesday at South Carolina. The Gamecocks are ranked No. 5 in the latest Collegiate Baseball Poll, while Kentucky is No. 9, Florida Gulf Coast is No. 23 and Clemson is No. 26. Mercer also checks in at No. 28 in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Top 30 Poll, a poll the Spartans have received votes for the last three weeks.

CREAM OF THE CROP: The top two pitchers for the Spartans have set the table all season, as Brandon Lee and David Roseboom have combined for a 7-0 record and 34 strikeouts in 50.2 innings of work. The duo has not allowed a home run this year and Lee's 1.24 earned run average is the best on the team among pitchers with more than 11 innings of work.

PALMETTO STATE BATTLE: The Spartans have never beaten their in-state rival, posting an 0-6 mark all time against the Gamecocks. Despite having a 3-0 second-inning lead wiped away last season due to weather, Upstate's best chance for a win came in 2010, falling 4-2. The Spartans led that game 2-0 before South Carolina rallied for four unanswered runs in the middle innings.

SUCCESS AGAINST THE SEC: The Atlantic Sun Conference has had plenty of success this season against the Southeastern Conference, posting a 6-3 mark through the first month of the season. Four of those wins have come against a ranked Florida team, while Georgia and Auburn have also fallen to A-Sun teams. Upstate nearly pulled an upset of No. 8 Kentucky, falling 11-10 after the Wildcats came storming back with five runs over the final two innings to avoid the upset. The SEC currently has seven teams ranked in the latest USA Today Top 25 Poll released Monday afternoon.

HITTING ON ALL CYLINDERS: Jordan Stampler has been the ultimate leadoff hitter this season, coaxing 13 walks and being hit by four pitches, both categories that lead the team. He has reached safely in 12 of the 14 games this season and his .455 on base percentage is third on the team.

PATTERSON'S PATTERN: With five multi-hit games this season, Brandon Patterson has climbed to the top of the team in batting average at .417. After opening the year with nine hits in four games, he has leveled off and become one of the most consistent hitters in the lineup.

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