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Big weekend for FIU baseball

If the Golden Panthers ultimately make the NCAA Regionals for the second straight year -- and this time, as an at-large -- this might be the weekend that turned the tide.

As it currently stands, FIU would likely be on the outside looking in, should the season end today. The Panthers currently stand at 19-13 (including a win against non-Division I opponent St. Thomas), with an RPI of 45. FIU is 8-11 against RPI Top 100 teams, but just 2-6 against those in the Top 50.

In short, the Panthers need a few signature wins.

Enter the Troy Trojans, who clearly have been the class of the Sun Belt in 2011.

Troy (22-5) is ranked No. 22 in the latest CBN poll, ahead of traditional powers Rice and LSU, and has an RPI also of 22. Short of a late-season swoon, the Trojans are Regional-bound.

But, so might the Panthers, should they win at least two games in Alabama this weekend. After an 11-2 start, FIU has lost 11 of its last 18 games, and hasn't been able to string together more than three wins in succession.

A major reason: The Panthers just haven't been hitting like they did last year. FIU's team batting average is .295 and the team averages 6.1 runs per game -- solid, no doubt, but off last year's marks of .336 and 7.9.

The going gets no easier this weekend, as FIU faces a Troy pitching staff with a team 2.83 ERA, led by Tyler Ray (6-0, 1.45).

Game-time for tonight's opener is 7 p.m. You can listen live here.

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