Baseball opens Big South slate this weekend at Winthrop

The Campbell University baseball team will travel to Rock Hill, S.C. this weekend to face the Winthrop Eagles in the Big South Conference opening series. The first game is set for Friday evening at 6 p.m., with a doubleheader scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. on Saturday. The 2012 Fighting Camel squad has set two new marks in program history, having opened the 2012 season with a 20-3 record for the best start in school history and setting a new mark for longest winning streak with the 15 consecutive victories the team has reeled off in March.

Campbell is led at the plate by newcomers Michael Felton and Jake Kirkland. Felton holds a .484 batting average, tops among all Big South players. Kirkland is batting .417 on the season and has a .519 on base percentage after drawing 17 walks. CU has nine different players with at least 30 at-bats who are hitting .300 or better, as the team as a collective .345 batting average.

Jimmy Brenneman leads the Big South with 34 runs scored on the season. He scored 11 runs in five games last week and was named the College Sports Madness Big South player of the week. Kyle Holmstrom is tied for second with eight doubles this season, while Kirkland is second in the league in RBI (25) and tied for second in home runs (4).

Felton (.524), Kirkland (.519) and Brenneman (.500) fill three of the top four spots on the on base percentage chart among league leaders, while Felton and Kirkland are tied for first with 57 total bases.

The Campbell pitching staff is also well-represented among the league leaders, beginning with Matt Sergey's 35 strikeouts, which top the Big South. Frank Zier's 35 innings pitched are tied for second in the conference and he also is fifth in strikeouts (31). David Olson's three saves are tied for fifth-best in the Big South.

Winthrop is led at the plate by Patrick Gamblin, who is batting .264 with four doubles, two homers, 13 RBI and ten runs scored. The top two starting pitchers for the Eagles, Eric Ruth and Matt Pierpont, each have thrown at least 29.2 innings and recorded 33 strikeouts. Opponents are batting just .218 against Pierpont, who is 2-3 with a 3.63 ERA. Ruth has a 2-1 record in his five starts and holds a 3.64 ERA.

Following the Winthrop series, the Fighting Camels are off until they host Charleston Southern on March 30-31 for the Big South home opening series against the Buccaneers.