It’s a day late, but the Charlotte 49ers baseball team’s return to Conference USA is here.
Joining them as a newcomer: the FIU Panthers, who enter the day 12-1 and ranked in the top 25. They’ll double dip today before playing a single game tomorrow.
Charlotte 49ers (2-7-1) vs. #21 FIU Panthers (12-1)
Saturday, March 8-Sunday, March 9
Hayes Stadium, Charlotte, NC
All-time series: Charlotte leads, 3-2
Forecast: Mid 60s both days, sunny to partly cloudy skies
Last time out
Charlotte is coming of a 5-1 loss to UNC Asheville on Wednesday after a planned home date against Wake Forest a day before was rained out. FIU took two of three from Dartmouth last weekend before shutting out Bethune-Cookman on Wednesday.
The scoop on FIU
This weekend is the first time the Panthers have left the state of Florida this season. Picked to finish sixth in their first season in Conference USA, they went 26-32 last season but are off to a flying start in 2014 as they have moved their way up the national rankings.
Who to watch for
Aramis Garcia and Josh Anderson have hit the cover off the ball. The junior duo are hitting .444 and .436, respectively, while combining for 33 RBI and just five strikeouts in 100 at bats. Tyler Hibbert (9 of 11) is a threat to steal bases when he gets on. On the mound, starters Chris Mourelle, Mike Ellis and Mike Franco each boast ERA of 1.65 or less and 45 strikeouts between them, with the team ERA standing at a solid 1.64. Panthers pitching has struck out 111 batters while opponents are hitting only .199 against them.
On the mound
Saturday, Game 1: Charlotte–Ryan Butler (1-0, 1.50); FIU–Mike Franco (2-0, 1.65)
Saturday, Game 2: Charlotte–Corey Roberts (0-1, 0.63); FIU–Mike Ellis (2-1, 1.12)
Sunday: Charlotte–Brock Hudgens (0-0, 2.45); FIU–Robby Kalaf (1-0, 1.00)