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USA Baseball to Host Cuba in International Friendship Series

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DURHAM, N.C. -- USA Baseball and the Cuban Baseball Federation announced on Wednesday that the two international baseball powers will continue their home-and-home international friendship series in the U.S. this July. 2015 will mark the fourth consecutive year the two countries have met on the baseball diamond for a five-game series. The U.S. hosted in 2013, while Cuba hosted the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team in 2012 and 2014. 

Co-hosted by the Charlotte Knights and the Durham Bulls, the 2015 series will be contested entirely in the state of North Carolina. The two nations will open and close the series at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C., on July 1 and 6, while the Durham Bulls will host games on July 2 and 3 at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, and the Charlotte Knights will host play on the Fourth of July at BB&T Ballpark in uptown Charlotte.

"It is a thrill to bring the Cuban National Team to North Carolina for five competitive, entertaining games in Cary, Durham and Charlotte, this summer," said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball's executive director/CEO. "Building on the success of the first three years of this renewed friendship series should make for an incredible experience for the players, coaches, fans and the international baseball community."

After a 16-year hiatus, USA and Cuba resumed a yearly international friendship series on the baseball field in 2012 with the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team traveling to Havana for an intense five-game series that saw the host nation score a 3-2 series victory. In 2013 (in the U.S.) and 2014 (in Cuba), the host nations dominated play with five-game sweeps. In three years of renewed rivalry, Cuba leads the series 8-7.

"It's exciting to be entering the fourth consecutive year of international friendship series between these two historic baseball countries," said World Baseball Softball Confederation Ambassador, Antonio Castro. "The games in Cuba in 2014 were an incredibly positive experience for the players and fans, and we look forward to the same kind of atmosphere this year in the United States."

The USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C., which opened in 2007, has been a friendly home to the Collegiate National Team program. The Collegiate National Team sports a 16-1-1 all-time record at the NTC, including a 3-2 victory in its only previous match up against Cuba in Cary.

The Durham Bulls Athletic Park has also been good to the Collegiate National Team. Since opening in 1995, and becoming an unofficial yearly home to the team in 2003, the Collegiate National Team has posted a 44-7 record in 51 contests there. The Collegiate National Team and Cuba have met once before at the DBAP, with Team USA winning the final game of the 2013 series, 5-3, in front of a joyous hometown crowd.

July 4, 2015 will mark the first game USA Baseball has played in the Charlotte Knights new home, BB&T Ballpark. Opened prior to the 2014 season, the Collegiate National Team was scheduled to play the Chinese Taipei National Team in the ballpark last July, but inclement weather forced a postponement and the game was ultimately made up in Durham. USA and Cuba did meet at the Knight's previous home, Knights Stadium in Fort Mill, S.C., in August of 1988, with the Red, White and Blue winning both contests.

Since USA Baseball began keeping official records following the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, the Collegiate National Team is 35-65 in 100 meetings with the Cuban National Team; however, Team USA holds a 22-20 advantage in games hosted in the U.S., most recently winning all five games of the 2013 international friendship series.

The 2015 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team will be managed by St. John's University skipper, Ed Blankmeyer. The remainder of the coaching staff and players invited to the Collegiate National Team and Collegiate National Team Training Camp will be announced throughout the spring.

For more information on the Collegiate National Team, please visit USABaseball.com.

Related Link:   http://web.usabaseball.com/article.jsp?ymd=20150218&content_id=109591944&vkey=news_usab

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