The 2021 Piedmont Pride International Team has had a remarkable 4 days in the Dominican Republic. We left Charlotte-Douglas Airport at 9:30 Thursday morning and landed at Las Americas Airport in Santo Domingo at 3:15. After getting our 16 bags of equipment, including 11 bags of used equipment to give to the Dominican youth teams, we made the 1.5 hour bus ride to Casa de Campo in La Romana. There we all had our first glimpse at Maison Larimar at Los Palmas 18 & 19, our amazing home for the next 14 days. Words could not describe its beauty.
After a great dinner of grilled chicken breasts and mashed potatoes and a good night’s sleep, we started our 14-day journey. Friday afternoon found us visiting the Orfanato Ninas de Cristo. This is a girls orphanage in La Romana. It is home to 49 girls aged 5-18. These girls have lost their parents, been abandoned, or been abused. We have visited this orphanage every year for the past 9 years except last year due to Covid. I told the players that the girls would latch onto them as soon as we walked through the door, and I was right. We toured the orphanage and then played our annual game of kickball. Those girls look forward to our kickball game, and we had a great time. After 2 hours of fun and games, it was time to leave. As is always the case, it was virtually impossible to get to the door. The girls just would not let the guys leave. It was, as always, an incredible experience. It was also very sobering for our guys. They would get to go home in a few days, but these beautiful girls would never get to go home.
Saturday brought our first baseball game. We traveled to San Pedro de Macoris, the mecca of Dominican baseball, to play the Paulino Baseball Academy. The academy team has players aged 14-18 who are very good professional prospects. They provide meals and lodging for the players, and if they sign professionally, they get a very hefty slice of the signing bonus. In 12 prior trips and over 50 games, we have lost only 1 game and it was to Paulino. We lost 1-0 in 2017. So, this is a very good team. Our boys played very well and came away with a 7-3 victory.
Sunday is our traditional Dominican church day and beach day. After another great breakfast, we attended church at the same church we have attended many times. Although the music and sermon were in a different language, we were still able to worship the same God. After lunch, we went to Minitas Beach, the small but beautiful beach in Casa de Campo. It was a great time of relaxation for the boys. It was the 4th of July but no fireworks or celebration in the DR. However, we did have our annual Thanksgiving dinner Our amazing cook, Antonia, and her staff made us a delicious dinner of 3 whole turkeys, mashed potatoes, salad, and, of course, apple pie.
The 16 Pride players who are on the trip are:
Tyler Baker – Middle Infielder/Pitcher
Gaston, SC & Winthrop University
Sam Blancato – Outfielder/Infielder
Marietta, GA & Georgia Southern University
Patrick Brogan – Outfielder
Pittsburgh, PA & California University of Pennsylvania
Hayden Cross – Catcher
Sanford, NC & Appalachian State University
Reece Fields – Right Handed Pitcher
West Columbia, SC & North Greenville University
Emmanuel Johnson – Left Handed Pitcher
Madison Heights, VA & Liberty University
Scottie Lee – First Baseman/ Third Baseman
Belmont, NC & Mars Hill University
Abraham Mow – Infielder
Milford, DE & Slippery Rock University
Seth Owens – Right Handed Pitcher
Summerville, SC & Charleston Southern University
Levi Parker – Left Handed Pitcher
Chapin, SC & Columbia International University
Justin Stewart – Catcher/Pitcher
Butler, PA & California University of Pennsylvania
Jared Szabo – Right Handed Pitcher
Evans, GA & Georgia Southern University
Andrew Terrell – Outfielder/Pitcher
Franklin, NC & Appalachian State University
Jordan Thurmond – Infielder/Outfielder
Rock Hill, SC – USC-Sumter
Kody Trujillo – Middle Infielder
Greenville, SC – Columbia International University
Ben Wetenhall – Infielder
Simpsonville, SC & College of Charleston
You can read the player blogs and see all the photos by clicking on the links below:
Facebook Page: Piedmont Pride Baseball
Instagram: @thepiedmontpridebaseball
Picture Gallery Link:
The total cost for the summer is $85,000(summer team expenses only – no salaries). The players each pay a player fee and we raise the rest. The Lord has graciously supplied all but $6800 through the generous gifts of His people. If you would like to support our boys on this trip of a lifetime, just click on this donate button. You will find instructions on how to donate by check or securely online. All donations are 100% tax deductible.