FLORENCE, SC - The eighth-ranked Francis Marion University baseball squad will honor long-time athletic trainer Spyder Webb, who is retiring this year, with a ceremonial first pitch on Friday (April 20) as the Patriots open a key Peach Belt Conference series against 14th-ranked USC Aiken.
First pitch on Friday will be at 7 p.m. in the new Cormell Field at Sparrow Stadium. The two squads will play a doubleheader on Saturday at 2 p.m. The series schedule was altered slightly due to forecasted rain on Sunday. Admission each day is $8 for adults and $5 for students (FMU students are admitted free with ID).
Also a Francis Marion graduate, Webb's association with Patriot athletics began in 1973.
Over the past four decades, he has worked tirelessly with Patriot student-athletes and coaches. He will officially retire on June 4. He has also spent the past 34 summers working for the Seattle Mariners' Class A affiliate in the Northwest League.
Francis Marion has won 19 of its last 23 contests, including seven straight, to up its record to 31-13. The Patriots are also ranked 20th in the most recent D2 Baseball poll, fifth in the College Baseball Lineup poll, and 25th in the NCBWA poll. The Patriots are 17-9 in conference play, only percentage points behind East Division leader Armstrong Atlantic State University (32-9, 16-8).
USCA (30-14) is one-half game behind FMU with a 17-10 league mark. Only three-and-a-half games separate the top five teams in the East Division standings. This weekend will be the final Peach Belt series for both Francis Marion and USCA.
Junior right-hander Spencer Jordan (7-3, 2.71 earned run average) will be head coach Art Inabinet's likely starter on Friday evening. Patriot senior southpaw Matt Broderick (7-1, 2.06 ERA) is the probable starter for Saturday's second contest with the first-game starter still to be determined.
As a team the Patriots ranked seventh nationally in total hits, fourth in fewest walks surrendered per nine innings, 10th in sacrifice bunts, and 37th in batting average (.315).
Senior center fielder Buddy Sosnoskie has hit in eight straight games and recorded 12 multi-hit games in the last 16 contests to raise his average to a team-leading .365. He is ranked sixth nationally in doubles with 18 and paces the Patriots with 40 runs batted in. Senior outfielder Tyler Boyd has also upped his season average to .339 with a 15-game hitting streak.