The USC Beaufort baseball team squares off against Sun Conference rival Embry-Riddle for the first time since bouncing the Eagles from the NAIA World Series last May when seventh-ranked Embry-Riddle visits Hardeeville's Richard Gray Sports Complex for a three-game conference series this weekend.
The seventh-ranked Eagles are the early favorite to win their sixth consecutive conference title and their 11th in the last 12 seasons, but USCB won three of five meetings last season.
The 21st-ranked Sand Sharks were picked to finish third in the conference despite losing 16 seniors. USCB dropped the first two games of its opening conference series last weekend at Webber International but rebounded for a 16-5 win in the finale.
The Sand Sharks had a doubleheader at Voorhees College rained out on Tuesday.
The Eagles have struggled at the plate so far this season, hitting .246 as a team and averaging 4.1 runs per game, but they've ridden a dominant pitching staff to a 6-1 start.
Embry-Riddle's team ERA of 1.89 ranks 12th in the nation (as of Feb. 14) with right-hander Chad Modomo (1-0, 1.26 ERA) and left-hander Stetson Nelson (1-0, 1.29 ERA) anchoring the rotation along with preseason NAIA All-American left-hander Kevin Maloney (1-0, 3.18 ERA).
Six of the Eagles' seven games have been one-run contests, and the other was decided by two runs.
No. 7 Embry-Riddle (6-1, 3-0 TSC) at No. 21 USCB (3-4, 1-2)
2 p.m. Friday, Noon Saturday (DH), Richard Gray Sports Complex, Hardeeville
Series: E-R leads 10-6 overall; E-R leads 4-2 on the road
2012 Results: USCB won three of five games
TV: Friday -- The County Channel (Hargray 9/113, Comcast 2, Time Warner 63); Saturday -- None.
Notable: Junior 1B Erik Armstrong (7) needs two home runs to tie Brandon Collins for USC Beaufort's career lead.