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Troy State finishes conference play against CU

Special to The Messenger

The Troy State baseball team will host Campbell in its final series of the season this weekend at Riddle-Pace Field.

The Trojans are currently in seventh place in the Atlantic Sun Conference standings. The top six teams qualify for the post-season tournament. The tournament will take place in DeLand, Fla., May 21-24 with Stetson as the host team.

Gardner-Webb, Georgia State and Jacksonville State are all tied for fourth place with a 16-14 record in conference play. Troy State (26-25, 15-15 A-Sun) is one game behind with three games to play.

"This is obviously a big weekend series for us," Troy State head coach Bobby Pierce said. "Our kids know what they have to do and are determined to succeed."

Troy State is facing Campbell for the 14th time. The Trojans lead the all-time series, 9-4. Last season the Camels took two of three games from the Trojans in Buies Creek, N.C., but Troy State has won five of the last seven games in the series.

Campbell (20-27, 12-18 A-Sun) is led by senior second baseman Sal Deanda. The Placentia, Calif., native is hitting .379 with 20 RBIs and 26 runs scored. He has also stolen six of nine bases this season.

The Campbell pitching staff has a team earned-run average of 4.46. Senior, Matt Kleweno, leads the team with a 3-6 record and a 3.10 ERA. The lefthander has thrown a team-high 87 innings and has racked up 43 strikeouts.

"Pitching is definitely Campbell's strength," Pierce said. "They have two lefthanders who throw on the weekend and have been tough on teams all season. We are definitely going to have our hands full."

Troy State enters the weekend after losing two of three at Belmont last weekend. The Trojans lost the first two games of the series but battled back to take game three and keep their tournament hopes alive.

The Trojans are led by junior second baseman Casey O'Quinn. The Simi Valley, Claif., native leads the team with a .315 average and 58 hits. He also has driven in 28 runs and has 27 runs scored. O'Quinn's 141 assists also lead the team this season.

The Trojan pitching staff currently holds a 4.36 ERA. Junior Eric Wikstrom leads the staff with a 6-3 record and a 4.47 ERA. He has 67 strikeouts in 90.2 innings of work.

"You can throw the whole season out of the window," Pierce said. "These three games are our season, and we must have a good weekend to continue that season. Taking Friday night's game is big because without that victory, Saturday's games could become meaningless in the conference standings."

The two teams will square off for a three-game series. Today's game is set for 6 p.m. at Riddle-Pace Field and will be broadcast on WTBF-FM 94.7 in Troy. Saturday's doubleheader will begin at 1 p.m., with the second game being broadcast on AM-970. All three games will also be streamed live on www.troystate.com. Saturday will also be Senior Day as the Trojans will honor seven seniors.