Following a midweek matchup against in-state rival College of Charleston, the USC Upstate baseball team returns to conference play Thursday at 6:30 p.m. when the Spartans travel to Fort Myers, Fla., to face Florida Gulf Coast in a three-game series from Swanson Stadium.
Upstate is expected to pitch right-handers Brian Boocock (3-4) in game one, Blake Whitney (1-1) in game two and Zac Manuppelli (1-2) in game three.
The Spartans enter the weekend in fourth place in the league standings after going 1-2 last weekend at Kennesaw State in the opening Atlantic Sun series of the season. Upstate trailed 5-0 Saturday at Kennesaw State after seven innings, but rallied for four runs in the eighth and two more in the ninth to earn a 6-5 victory.
Shortstop Daniel Fickas heads into play leading the club with a .314 batting average to go along with 38 hits and five stolen bases. Senior Erik Samples owns a .304 batting average and has connected for a team-best 11 doubles.
Freshman Charlie Carpenter paces the Spartans with 27 RBIs and three triples, while right fielder Cody Brittain has hit a team-high three home runs.
Florida Gulf Coast took two of three from North Florida last weekend and sits in second place in the conference standings. The Eagles have won six of their last eight games, but are just 10-9-1 thus far this season at home.
Junior first baseman Nick Rivera leads Florida Gulf Coast in hitting (.378), RBIs (30) and home runs (3), while infielder Jake Noll is second on the team with a .347 batting average to go along with a team-high 11 stolen bases.
Florida Gulf Coast is 14-7 in the all-time series with USC Upstate.