by Justin Hill
KINSTON — Although it’s without a permanent occupant for the first time in nearly 35 years, Kinston’s Grainger Stadium will be ushering in baseball season once again this week with the second annual Freedom Classic.
The classic, which will pit the Naval and Air Force academies against one another for a three-game weekend series, will begin Friday night at 6 p.m. Game 2 will be played Saturday at 2 p.m., and the series finale will be played at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.
Kinston-Lenoir County Parks and Recreation Director Bill Ellis, the person responsible for the series coming to Kinston, said he is excited for the weekend of baseball.
“I’m looking forward to the atmosphere when these two service academies play each other,” he said. “It’s going to be a great chance for the community to come out and support the military and watch three great baseball games.”
Tickets are $5 for adults and $4 for active duty and retired military, as well as students and senior citizens. Parking is free at the stadium and concessions, along with souvenir T-shirts and baseballs, will be available for purchase.
A reverse auction, with proceeds benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project, will be held Saturday.
Air Force Coach Mike Kazlausky said it is important to remember that these baseball players are serving a more important mission.
“None of these men will continue their careers on a baseball field; but more importantly, their takeaways through the game of baseball are what will be required of them to provide the security blanket to allow our country to sleep well each night,” he said. “We, as a country, can never afford to be in second place, and these young men will ensure that our military will stand true to the highest calling of making the ultimate sacrifice for the better of our country.”
Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy said the city is honored to host the two teams and their families.
“These young men aren’t just ball players — they are our country’s finest,” he said. “We encourage youth groups, baseball fans, veterans and more to show their support by attending these ball games.”
Air Force won 8-2 in the first game of last year’s classic. Navy returns to North Carolina looking to defend its 2011 Freedom Classic title after winning Games 2 and 3, 6-4 and 13-3, respectively.
Organizers are still looking for volunteers to help unfurl a huge American flag across the field. Volunteers are asked to arrive at the stadium 45 minutes before the first pitch.
If you are interested in helping with the flag duties contact Adrian King at Aking.firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 252-522-8003. For more information about the Freedom Classic, contact Jenny Inabinet at 252-939-3332.
2012 Freedom Classic at Grainger Stadium — a three-game college baseball series between the Air Force Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy
Games are: Friday, 6 p.m.; Saturday, 2 p.m.; Sunday, 12:30 p.m.
Tickets are $5 for adults; $4 for active duty and retired military, students and senior citizens
Parking is free at the stadium
If you are interested in helping with flag duties, contact Adrian King at email@example.com or 252-522-8003
For more information about the Freedom Classic, contact Jenny Inabinet at 252-939-3332