USA Baseball and the University of Notre Dame announced another solid field for the third annual USA Baseball-Irish Classic, which is set for Feb. 27 to March 1 in Cary, North Carolina at the USA Baseball National Training Complex. After more than 5,000 fans swarmed to last season's tournament, this year's USA Baseball-Irish Classic offers fans even more opportunity to watch talented programs from around the country.
In addition to the host Irish, Cincinnati, East Carolina, Iowa, NC State, Penn State, Richmond and Seattle will converge upon the Research Triangle for the three-day tournament, which will again be presented by the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance.
"The Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance is delighted to continue our partnership with USA Baseball and the University of Notre Dame on the Irish Classic," said Scott Dupree, executive director of the GRSA. "We always try to partner with first-class organizations that run first-class events, and the Irish Classic, which has quickly become one of the premier regular season tournaments in college baseball, certainly qualifies in that regard."
Ten games are set for the USA Baseball National Training Complex, while two of NC State's contests will be played at Doak Stadium on the Wolfpack Campus.
"In partnership with Notre Dame, the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance and the Town of Cary, we have put together one of the most competitive events in all of college baseball," said USA Baseball's executive director/CEO, Paul Seiler. "In 2015, we have grown to eight teams and we expect an exciting competition for the baseball fans of North Carolina."
Tickets for the USA Baseball-Irish Classic will be available for purchase on Oct. 20. Weekend passes are $30 per adult, with day passes available for $12. Seniors, college students with a valid ID, youth age 13-18 and groups can purchase passes for $25 for the tournament or $10 a day. Children under the age of 12 will be admitted free of charge.
"We are always really excited to partner with USA Baseball, the governing body of our sport in this country," said Notre Dame head coach, Mik Aoki. "As far as the field, I think it's another strong field and I like that it brings a lot of different conferences into the tournament. We have the Big Ten, AAC, ACC, Atlantic 10 and the WAC represented, and we also have teams from the East Coast to the West Coast. It really features a truly national field."
Two players and three coaches that have ties to USA Baseball will participate in this year's USA Baseball-Irish Classic.
Notre Dame's USA Baseball alum is sophomore, Cavan Biggio, who was a member of the 2012 18U National Team that won gold at the IBAF 18U World Championship in Seoul, South Korea.
Additionally, NC State infielder, Preston Palmeiro, competed on the 2009 14U National Team.
Penn State head coach Rob Cooper has an extensive and impressive USA Baseball resume. An assistant coach on the 2007 and 2009 Collegiate National Teams, Cooper went on to be the manager on the 2013 18U National Team, earning the prestigious Rod Dedeaux USA Baseball Coach of the Year Award.
Elsewhere, Wolfpack head coach Elliot Avent was an assistant coach for the 2004 Collegiate National Team and Iowa volunteer assistant coach Jeff Clement was a player on the 2003 and 2004 Collegiate National Teams.
Notre Dame has a long and storied history with USA Baseball. Eight Irish alumni have been members of the USA Baseball Collegiate, 18U and 16U National Teams.
Shaun Fitzmaurice was a member of the 1964 United States Olympic Baseball Team that competed in Tokyo. Brant Ust, who served USA Baseball as Director, 18U National Team Program & Alumni Relations for four years, was a member of the 22-man squad that competed in the IBAF World Championship in Italy in 1998. Aaron Heilman played on the 1999 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team that toured Japan and 10 U.S. states. Heilman and Ust were the only players on their respective USA Baseball National Teams who hailed from a school in the Midwest or Northeast. Grant Johnson toured with Team USA in the summer of 2002, helping post a team record for staff ERA (1.48) with a solid showing in five outings (3 GS, 1.80, 2-1, 25 Ks, 13 BB, 11 H in 20 IP).
Ust, who was the Directory of the 18U National Team Program & Alumni Relations, was integral in creating and organizing the USA Baseball-Irish Classic when it began in 2012. Ust is now back at Notre Dame as the Executive Director of the Notre Dame Monogram Club.
Matt Macri was one of two members of the 2000 USA Baseball 18U National Team who was named all-tournament at the COPABE 18U/AAA Pan Am Championships. Jeff Manship was a staff ace for the 2003 USA Baseball 18U National Team. Two years earlier he was a middle reliever with the 2001 USA Baseball 16U National Team that won the IBAF 16U World Championships in Veracruz, Mexico. Cody Rizzo played for the 2000 USA Baseball 16U National Team, winning the COPABE 16U/AA Pan Am Championships. Joey Williamson, was a top pitcher for the 2002 USA Baseball 16U National Team.
Three former Notre Dame players also competed on USA Baseball Professional National Teams. Ust and Chris Michalak were members of the United States team that competed in the Netherlands at the 2005 IBAF Baseball World Cup while their fellow Notre Dame baseball alum, Brad Lidge, was a member of the pitching staff for Team USA at the inaugural World Baseball Classic in 2006.
Five players that suited up for the 2014 USA Baseball-Irish Classic went in the top 10 rounds of the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft. Highlighting the draftees were N.C. State standouts Carlos Rodon (3rd overall pick, White Sox) and Trea Turner (13th overall pick, Padres), who were both selected early in the first round. The White Sox plucked Wolfpack catcher Brett Austin off the board in the fourth round, while UCLA's Shane Zelle (Tigers) and Max Schuh (Orioles) were selected in the fifth and seventh rounds, respectively.
2015 USA Baseball-Irish Classic presented by the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance:
Friday (Feb. 27)
Cincinnati vs. Iowa - 1 p.m. (All times ET)
Seattle vs. Richmond - 2 p.m.
Penn State vs. NC State - 3 p.m. (Doak Stadium / NCST)
East Carolina vs. Notre Dame 5:30 p.m.
Saturday (Feb. 28)
Cincinnati vs. Penn State - 12:30 p.m.
Seattle vs. Notre Dame - 1 p.m.
Iowa vs. Richmond - 2 p.m.
NC State vs. East Carolina - 5 p.m.
Sunday (March 1)
Penn State vs. Notre Dame - 11 a.m.
Seattle vs. Cincinnati - 12 p.m.
Iowa vs. NC State - 1 p.m. (Doak Stadium / NCST)
Richmond vs. East Carolina - 2:30 p.m.
**All times subject to change
USA Baseball Alums In Tournament
Cavan Biggio (2012 18U NT)
Preston Palmeiro (2009 14U NT)
Head Coach Elliot Avent (2004 CNT Assistant Coach)
Head Coach Rob Cooper (2007, 2009 CNT Assistant Coach / 2013 18U NT / 2013 Rod Dedeaux USA Baseball Coach of the Year)
Volunteer Assistant Coach Jeff Clement (2003, 2004 CNT)