In this case, the Rock Hill-based baseball team is happy to cross the state line.
The Piedmont Pride, a team created and led by former Winthrop baseball coach Joe Hudak, announced on Tuesday its plans to play 18 games this summer at Truist Field, the home of the minor league’s Charlotte Knights.
“None of our guys have played since March, and they were really excited when I told them where we were playing,” Hudak told The Herald. “If (Truist Field) isn’t the nicest minor league park in the country, it’s certainly in the top three. And for our guys to have a chance to play there, it’s really exciting.”
Hudak created the Piedmont Pride team in 2015. In its five years of existence, the team has gone 150-48, winning four regular-season championships and two playoff titles in the Southern Collegiate Baseball League, a six-team wooden bat league based in the Carolinas.
In the team’s first two seasons, it used the baseball fields on Winthrop’s campus. In the next three years, Hudak said the team practiced and played on the field at York Comprehensive High School.
But this year, due the coronavirus pandemic, many baseball facilities in York County were closed — so Hudak had to look elsewhere.
He reached out to Dan Rajkowski, the Charlotte Knights’ chief operating officer, and the two worked out a deal.
“We talked for about an hour, and I gave them the schedule and told them what the league was like and what we were looking to do,” Hudak said. “And they loved the idea of having baseball there.”
The Piedmont Pride’s opening day will be Friday, with the first pitch of the game set for 6 p.m.
Right now, due to COVID-19 restrictions in North Carolina, there will be no stadium seating allowed. Those wishing to watch the game can do so by reserving patio seating at one of Truist Field’s seven concourse restaurants, a release from the Charlotte Knights said.
You can make these bookings through the Knights’ website.
“Baseball is returning to Truist Field and we are very pleased to welcome the Piedmont Pride and the Southern Collegiate Baseball League to our Uptown Charlotte home,” Rajkowski said in a statement. “We know our fans miss baseball, and as we wait for more information from Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball, we are able to bring the sport back starting this week.”
The Piedmont Pride is sponsored by Pride Baseball, a Christian baseball nonprofit ministry that Hudak founded in the summer of 2016. The organization sponsors a handful of faith-based teams across the country and takes players and coaches on mission trips.
“We aim to play well on the field, but we’re also very excited about helping our players grow in their faith,” Hudak said.