USA Baseball announces 2008 National Team coaching staff and international opponent
Oral Roberts' Rob Walton to manage in '08; domestic schedule to feature Chinese Taipei
Dec. 7, 2007
DURHAM, NC -- USA Baseball announced today the coaching staff for the organization's 2008 USA Baseball National Team (collegiate). Rob Walton, Head Coach at Oral Roberts University (ORU), returns to the bench for Team USA as the Field Manager of the 2008 program. Walton previously helped lead the 2005 USA Baseball National Team as an assistant coach.
"With Rob's experience in professional baseball and his elevation of the Oral Roberts baseball program into a national power, we are very excited to have him manage the National Team program in 2008," said Eric Campbell, USA Baseball General Manager of National Teams.
"It's quite an honor," Walton said.
"I'm really humbled and feel very privileged to be chosen as the field manager. This is an opportunity to represent our country and to coach some of the best players in college baseball."
Walton is in his fifth season as the head coach of ORU and his 10th season with the school, having previously served as the pitching coach. Walton has a career record of 173-65 as a head coach with the Golden Eagles and holds the highest career winning percentage (.730) in ORU history. He has twice been named Mid-Continent Conference Coach of the Year and was named 2006 ABCA Mid-West Region Coach of the Year.
During Walton's tenure with ORU, he has coached eight All-Americans, has had 28 players drafted and has directed seven different pitchers to earn conference Pitcher of the Year honors. In his first season as the Golden Eagles' skipper in 2004, Walton lead ORU to its first 50-win season in 20 years while producing the nation's best team winning percentage (.820). Under Walton's guidance, ORU won its 10th consecutive conference championship in 2007 as the Golden Eagles became just the fourth team in NCAA Division I history to win at least 10 straight conference titles.
The 2008 USA Baseball National Team will begin a pre-trials training camp in conjunction with the New England Collegiate Baseball League beginning June 10, 2008. Starting June 20, USA Baseball will partner with Coastal Plain League franchises to present the National Team Trials.
The 2008 National Team will be named on June 24 and will begin a seven-game series vs. the Chinese Taipei National Team from June 25-July 1 including stops in Durham, NC and Cary, NC. This will be the fifth installment of the international friendship series between the U.S. and Chinese Taipei. Tickets for the June 27-29 three-game series in Durham are currently on sale through the Durham Bulls' mini-plan packages. Please visit www.durhambulls.com/tickets/mini_plans.html for more information.
The National Team will then head to Europe on July 2 and compete in the 2008 Dutch Honkbal Tournament and a two-game series versus the Czech Republic National Team. On July 18, the U.S. squad will begin the IV FISU World Collegiate Championship in Brno, Czech Republic. The U.S. is the defending gold medalist in the last two FISU championships.
Walton is joined on the 2008 staff by Jerry Meyers, Pitching Coach (Head Coach, Old Dominion University [ODU]), Nino Giarratano, Assistant Coach (Head Coach, University of San Francisco [USF]), and Ritch Price, Assistant Coach (Head Coach, University of Kansas [KU]).
"Rob Walton helped put together a great staff," said Campbell. "The list of quality college coaches involved in the National Team program keeps growing, and I am very excited about getting this staff together and beginning the process of naming 32 players to our trials from a great pool of college athletes."
Jerry Meyers, the 2006 Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Coach of The Year, begins his fourth year as the head coach of the Monarchs. In 2007, ODU compiled a 35-24 record and was the top seed in the CAA tournament and regular season champions. Prior to returning to ODU - Meyers was an assistant coach in 1996 - he served as an assistant coach at the University of South Carolina for eight years and helped guide the Gamecocks to College World Series appearances three straight seasons (2002-04), including the National Championship game in 2002 as pitching coach.
In 2008 Nino Giarratano prepares for his 10th year on the Hilltop after guiding the Dons to the most successful four-year stretch in program history. Since 2004, USF owns a 104-69 (.601) record, highlighted by the first back-to-back 30-plus win seasons in school history in 2005-06. Giarratano guided the Dons to a share of fourth place in the demanding West Coast Conference (WCC) in 2007, despite losing the 2006 league pitcher and player of the year along with the conference RBI leader. His next victory in the green and gold will be victory No. 250, and Giarratano currently ranks 10th in overall victories among WCC coaches.
Kansas Head Coach Ritch Price is entering his sixth season at KU and his 22nd year of working in college baseball. The veteran Jayhawk skipper led the team to its first conference championship in over 50 years as the Jayhawks won the 2006 Big 12 Tournament in Oklahoma City. Price has amassed a 173-142-1 (.550) at Kansas, which ranks him third in career wins and fifth in career winning percentage at the school. The sixth-year head coach has guided the team to postseason berths in three of his five years at KU. Price's overall Division I record is 390-360-2 (.520), which includes five seasons as a head coach at Kansas and eight at Cal Poly.