Fluor Field has hosted some of the nation's top college programs over the past seven years, and the trend will continue in 2013 as 21 different programs, as well as the Southern Conference Baseball Championship, are headed to downtown Greenville to provide a unique brand of baseball excitement for fans from across the Upstate and beyond.
The universities and colleges that will make Fluor Field and Downtown Greenville a destination this year include the 2010 and 2011 National Champion University of South Carolina, Clemson University, Anderson University, University of Cincinnati, Davidson College, Furman University, Lander University, Limestone College, Michigan State University, Miami University (OH), North Greenville University, Presbyterian College, USC-Upstate, Southern Wesleyan University, Western Carolina University, and Wofford College. Institutions that will all be visiting Fluor Field for the first time include the University of Connecticut, Northwestern University, and Winthrop University.
"Fluor Field has become a highly sought after venue for top NCAA baseball programs in recent years," commented Drive General Manager Mike deMaine. "This season we are featuring several of the region's most exciting teams, and we'll be hosting some great schools from the Midwest, as well as the 11 programs from the Southern Conference for their championship tournament in late May. The opportunity to enjoy premier collegiate baseball in downtown Greenville has never been better."
Signaling the start of the college baseball season at Fluor Field, the 4th Annual First Pitch Invitational will begin the weekend of February 15-17, and will hold more games the weekend of February 22-24.
The first weekend of round-robin play will feature the Furman Paladins, Michigan State Spartans, Miami (OH) Redhawks, and the Northwestern Wildcats. The same four teams will return to Greenville the following weekend, and they will be joined by the Cincinnati Bearcats and the Western Carolina Catamounts.
Drive Co-Owner and Team President Craig Brown, who is an alumnus of Michigan State, noted, "The Drive organization is proud to host all six institutions for the First Pitch Invitational as we kick off the college baseball season. This signature event is one which the community can rally around, and we are excited to begin the college baseball season at Fluor Field for the fourth straight year."
The Michigan State Spartans, benefitting from their tenure at Fluor Field, reached the NCAA tournament last season for the first time in 33 years, following their Big Ten championship season from 2011. The Spartans will be visiting Downtown Greenville for the sixth straight year. They will open up the First Pitch Invitational on Friday, February 15th, taking on Miami (OH) at 1 PM. Furman will meet up with Northwestern at 5 PM. Saturday, February 16th begins at 12 PM with Northwestern versus Miami (OH), followed by Furman and Michigan State at 4 PM. The round-robin portion of the invitational will conclude on Sunday, February 17th with Michigan State versus Northwestern at 11 AM and Furman playing Miami (OH) at 3 PM.
"We are extremely excited about coming to Greenville and playing at Fluor Field again this February," commented Jake Boss, Michigan State's head coach. "Our players have had the opportunity to play there for five years and will never forget the hospitality of the people in Greenville, and the first-class manner in which they were treated by the Greenville Drive personnel. It is certainly a highlight on our schedule and something we look forward to continuing for years to come here at Michigan State."
The second weekend of the First Pitch Invitational begins on Friday, February 22nd. Michigan State takes on Western Carolina at 1 PM and Cincinnati at 5 PM, while Furman plays Miami (OH) at Furman's Latham Stadium. Saturday's schedule includes Western Carolina vs. Miami (OH) at 10 AM, Furman vs. Cincinnati at 2 PM, and Furman vs. Michigan State at 6 PM. The invitational concludes on Sunday the 24th, as Michigan State takes on Miami (OH) at 11 AM and Western Carolina and Cincinnati play at 3 PM.
In addition to the First Pitch Invitational, the Furman Paladins will have three additional regular season games during 2013. They will meet fellow Southern Conference foe Davidson on Sunday, March 17th at 2 PM , South Carolina on Wednesday, April 3rd at 7 PM, and Clemson on Wednesday, May 8th at 7 PM. The Paladins have fared well against the Gamecocks and Tigers at Fluor Field in the past in front of near-capacity crowds, and look to continue that in Downtown Greenville.
"Fluor Field is a showcase facility," said Furman head coach Ron Smith. "Our players look forward to every opportunity we have to play there, as do our fans, who really enjoy the vibrant downtown atmosphere. It's as nice a baseball venue as any in the country, and is a tremendous asset to Greenville and our community."
One of the most sought after tickets during the amateur schedule at Fluor Field will be the Reedy River Rivalry between a pair of national powerhouses, the South Carolina Gamecocks and the Clemson Tigers, on Saturday March 2nd at 2 PM. During the two previous Reedy River Rivalry games in 2011 and 2010, Fluor Field has hosted the second and third largest crowds in the ballpark's seven year history. Tickets for this intense game can currently be purchased through the ticketing departments of the respective schools only.
The North Greenville Crusaders will play the Southern Wesleyan Warriors on Wednesday, March 13th at 7 PM, and the Blue Hose of Presbyterian College will tangle with the UConn Huskies, making their first visit to Fluor Field, on Saturday, March 16th at 7 PM.
After the Drive complete their first homestand of the 2013 season, the Anderson University Trojans and Lander University Bearcats will match up on Tuesday, April 9th at 7 PM as they return to Fluor Field for the second year in a row.
On Friday, April 12th, two of South Carolina's Historically Black Colleges and Universities meet in the HBCU Classic presented by Michelin. The two teams for their contest will be determined shortly.
Fans will be treated to a professional/collegiate doubleheader at Fluor Field on Tuesday, April 23rd as the Drive host the Lakewood BlueClaws in the Drive Business Downtown game at 2 PM, followed by the Spartans of USC Upstate taking on Furman at 7 PM.
The Wofford Terriers return to Fluor Field on Tuesday, April 30th to match up with the Winthrop Eagles, a Fluor Field newcomer, at 7 PM.
North Greenville returns on May 3rd to take on Limestone College at 7 PM, while Furman and Clemson's May 8th tilt will close out the slate of collegiate regular season games at Fluor Field.
Returning to Fluor Field for the third time will be the Southern Conference Baseball Championship from May 22nd through May 26th, featuring 11 schools vying for the conference championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Fluor Field first hosted the Southern Conference Baseball Championship in 2009, which was won by Georgia Southern, and again in 2012, won by Samford.
Tickets for each of these exciting collegiate games at Fluor Field are now on sale can be purchased by logging onto GreenvilleDrive.com, calling (864) 240-4528, or visiting the Fluor Field Box Office.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.