The Charlotte Knights announced tonight that the University of North Carolina Tar Heels will square off against the University of South Carolina Gamecocks at BB&T Ballpark in uptown Charlotte on Tuesday, April 12th, 2016 at 7:05 p.m. in a match-up of two of the elite college baseball programs in the country.
Charlotte Knights Chief Operating Officer Dan Rajkowski says that the Knights are very excited to have UNC and USC square off in the first of two games that will take place at the facility, with South Carolina being the home team in next year’s game, while North Carolina will serve as the home team for the 2017 contest. “We are thrilled to work with both of these outstanding universities for their first game at BB&T Ballpark on April 12th. Hosting this game will be a great way to showcase two great Carolina baseball programs to the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.” Rajkowski said. “We continue to look at ways in which we can tie in the collegiate baseball community and are eager to host more games at BB&T Ballpark in the very near future.”
“We are excited to be playing in Charlotte and at beautiful BB&T Ballpark.” said Mike Fox, head baseball coach at the University of North Carolina, and a 1974 graduate of East Mecklenburg High School, who has been at the helm of the Tar Heels baseball program since 1999. “Charlotte is home to a lot of UNC fans and alumni, and I am glad they will have this opportunity to see us play against a great opponent.”
North Carolina’s baseball program competes in the Atlantic Coast Conference as members of the Coastal Division. The program has reached the College World Series six time in it’s last 10 seasons, going 34-24 last year.
Over on the Gamecocks side of the story, South Carolina head coach Chad Holbrook is delighted to be playing in Charlotte as well, as well as giving to praise to BB&T Ballpark in the process. “We are looking forward to the match-up in April.” Holbrook said. “BB&T Ballpark is a tremendous facility and it will be a great setting for college baseball. The atmosphere should be electric, and our players are excited for the opportunity to play in Charlotte. I know Gamecock Nation will be there, and we look forward to seeing a lot of Garnet and Black in BB&T Ballpark.” The South Carolina program is a member of the Southeastern Conference, and won back-to-back national championships in 2010 and 2011, under former head coach Ray Tanner, who now serves as the university’s Athletics Director. Last season, the Gamecocks went 35-25 overall.
Several former Charlotte Knights played their college baseball at both, UNC and USC, among them were former Tar Heels Jesse Levis, Matt Merullo, and Paul Shuey, who spent the 1994 season with the Knights when the team played in Fort Mill at the since-demolished Knights Stadium. On the South Carolina side, Dave Hollins spent the 1999 season with Charlotte, and played a key role in the International League championship team that season, and Steve Tolleson, who was part of the Knights 2013 team that called Knights Stadium home, hit .288 in 116 games with Charlotte, and was named an International League All-Star in that season as well.
The gates at BB&T Ballpark will open at 6:00 p.m. for the April 12th game, with first pitch slated for 7:05 p.m., and tickets for that game will go on sale at a later date in early to mid-2016.