The USC Upstate baseball team continues its five-game road trip Friday at 1 p.m. when the Spartans face Michigan State in the first game of the First Pitch Invitational from Fluor Field in Greenville, S.C.
Upstate is also scheduled to play UConn Saturday at 1 p.m. and Furman Sunday at 3 p.m. The Spartans have never faced Michigan State or UConn on the diamond, but are 6-7 all-time against Furman. Upstate and Furman are scheduled to play a total of three times this season.
Spartan right-hander Brian Boocock (3-1, 2.78) will make his fifth start of the season Friday when he matches up against Michigan State righty Mick VanVossen (1-2, 5.12). Boocock enters the weekend second in the Atlantic Sun in wins and 10th in earned run average. The Estero, Fla., native is also tied for fourth in the league with 23 strikeouts and is holding opponents to a .230 batting average.
Offensively, USC Upstate is led by sophomore first baseman Zach Krider, as Krider stands second in the A-Sun with a .407 batting average. Krider is also fourth in the league with 18 RBIs and has eight in his last three games.
Senior second baseman Erik Samples is second on the team with a .344 batting average and ranks first in the league and 15th in the NCAA with 20 runs scored. Newcomer Cody Brittain leads the team with three home runs, while Krider, Samples and Stephen Dowling each have two roundtrippers apiece.
The Spartans feature six starters hitting above .300 and lead the conference with a .295 team batting average. Upstate is also atop the A-Sun in slugging percentage (.422) and on-base percentage (.384), while ranking second in runs (106), home runs (12) and RBIs (93).
Michigan State won its third game in a row following its 8-6 win Wednesday at Clemson, giving the Spartans a 7-7 overall record entering the First Pitch Invitational. The Spartans lost six of their first nine games, but have answered by winning four of their last five.
Senior infielder Mark Weist leads Michigan State with a .327 batting average and four doubles. Fellow senior Blaise Salter owns the team lead with nine RBIs and two home runs.