Notre Dame sophomore third baseman Brant Ust (Redmond, Wash.) has survived the final cut to 22 players and will be a member of the USA Baseball team at the upcoming World Championship, to be held July 21-Aug. 2 in Italy.
Ust is the first known Notre Dame baseball player to make the final USA national team since Shaun Fitzmaurice played for the 1964 Olympic team. Ust is the USA’s only remaining player who is from a school in the Midwest or Northeast (just five such players were among the original 44 invitees).
The 22-man roster includes 13 position players (two lefthanders, four switch hitters) and nine pitchers, three of which are lefthanders.
Team USA completes a four-game series versus Mexico today before taking Sunday off to attend the Arizona Diamondbacks game against the Cincinnati Reds. The team will meet with former Team USA members, including Diamondbacks first baseman Travis Lee, and will be introduced to the crowd before the game.
The USA heads to the northeast on Monday for a three-game final tuneup series versus Canada on July 15-17 in New Jersey (Trenton) and Connecticut (Norwich and New Haven). Ust will be familiar with Norwich’s Dodd Stadium, which served as the site of the BIG EAST baseball tournament in 1997 and ’98.
Prior to the game in Trenton, the team will tour New York City on Tuesday and attend the New York Mets game versus the Atlanta Braves, with a similar pre-game ceremony introducing the USA team members.
USA Baseball trimmed its initial 44-man roster to 26 players on June 13, with Notre Dame freshman righthander Aaron Heilman among those early cuts. Two players were added to the team in early July and Saturday’s six cuts brought the final roster to 22. The six players who were released included University of California second baseman Xavier Nady (.273, 12-for-44, 6 RBI, 15 K), Arizona State freshman catcher/first baseman Casey Myers (.281, 9-for-32, 7 RBI) and Baylor junior outfielder Jon Topolski (.339, 21-for-62, 13 RBI, 18 K). Two righthander pitchers–Stanford freshman Justin Wayne (0-0, 8.31, 8.2 IP) and Texas Tech junior Shane Wright (1-1, 5.92, 24.1 IP)–also were cut, as was Minnesota sophomore lefthander Ben Birk (1-1, 5.56, 11.1 IP).
Ust ranks fifth on the team in batting average (.375, 24-for-64) and has climbed to third among players with 50-plus at-bats. His other summer statistics include: 24 games played, 16 starts, 13 RBI, 12 runs, eight doubles, two triples, a .563 slugging percentage, eight walks, 15 strikeouts, a .438 on-base percentage, one sacrifice fly, one sacrifice bunt, one stolen base on three attempts, and a .907 fielding percentage (four errors on 43 chances).
Other infielders to make the team included Cal State Fullerton sophomore third baseman Ryan Owens and three switch hitters: Miami sophomore shortstop Bobby Hill, Arizona freshman second baseman Keoni DeRenne and USC freshman Seth Davidson. First base duties will be shared by Stanford sophomore John Gall and two lefthanded hitters–Texas A&M junior John Scheschuk and USC sophomore Eric Munson–while Texas Tech switch-hitting sophomore Josh Bard and LSU sophomore Brad Cresse will serve as the team’s catchers.
Davidson and Gall also have played in the outfield, where they have been joined by Arizona State sophomore Willie Bloomquist, Clemson freshman switch hitter Patrick Boyd and UNLV sophomore Ryan Ludwick.
The final squad’s most frequent starting pitchers have been five sophomores: Houston lefthander Shane Nance, Baylor righthander Jason Jennings, Clemson righthander Ryan Mottl, Texas A&M lefthander Casey Fossum and Miami righthander Alex Santos. Rounding out the pitching staff are Rice sophomore lefthander Mario Ramos, Mississippi State sophomore righthander Matt Ginter and a pair of Florida State freshman righthanders: Jon McDonald and Nick Stocks.
The 16-team World Championship will include two groups of round-robin competition, with the top four teams in each group advancing to the quarterfinals. The USA is part of group B, where it is joined by Australia, Canada, Korea, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Russia and Taiwan.
Group A includes defending champion Cuba and the host country Italy, plus China, the Dominican Republic, Japan, Panama, South Africa and Spain. Several current and former major leaguers were members of the USA national team, among them:
1984 (2nd, Olympics): Will Clark, Barry Larkin, Mark McGwire, Cory Snyder, B.J. Surhoff, Billy Swift and Bobby Witt.
1985 (6th, int’l cup): Kevin Brown, Joe Girardi, Jack McDowell and Matt Williams.
1986 (4th, WC): Dave Hollins, Mike Remlinger, Scott Servais and John VanderWal.
1987 (silver, Pan Am Games): Jim Abbott, Tino Martinez, Gregg Olson, Servais, Frank Thomas
1988 (1st, Olympics): Abbott, Andy Benes, Tom Goodwin, Martinez, Ben McDonald, Mickey Morandini, Servais, Ed Sprague, Robin Ventura.
1988 (2nd, int’l tour.): Chris Haney, Chuck Knoblauch, Mo Vaughn.
1989 (6th, int’l cup): Jeromy Burnitz, Brent Gates, Haney.
1990 (7th, WC): Jorge Fabregas, Brent Gates.
1991 (3rd, Pan Am Games): Jason Giambi, Jeffrey Hammonds, Charles Johnson.
1992 (4th, Olympics): Darren Dreifort, Nomar Garciaparra, Giambi, Hammonds, Johnson, Phil Nevin, Michael Tucker, Jason Varitek.
1993 (2nd, int’l cup): Todd Helton, A.J. Hinch, Paul Wilson.
1994 (6th, WC): Jose Cruz Jr., Hinch, Matt Morris.
1995 (1st, NBC world series): Hinch, Mark Kotsay, Travis Lee.
1996 (3rd, Olympics): Seth Greisinger, Hinch, Kotsay, Lee, Jim Parque.
1997 (4th, int’l cup): none.
USA NATIONAL BASEBALL TEAM – 1998 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM
Player Pos. Ht./Wt. B/T DOB Yr. School HometownBard, Josh C 6-3/205 S/R 3/30/78 So. Texas Tech Englewood, COBloomquist, Willie OF 5-11/180 R/R 11/27/77 So. Arizona St. Port Orchard, WABoyd, Patrick OF 6-3/200 S/R 9/7/78 Fr. Clemson Palm Harbor, FLCresse, Brad C 6-3/215 R/R 7/31/78 So. LSU Seal Beach, CADavidson, Seth IF 6-0/170 S/R 2/26/79 Fr. USC San Diego, CADeRenne, Keoni 2B 5-7/160 S/R 4/30/79 Fr. Arizona Honolulu, HIFossum, Casey LHP 6-1/160 S/L 1/6/78 So. Texas A&M Waco, TXGall, John 1B/OF 6-0/195 R/R 4/2/78 So. Stanford Portola Valley, CAGinter, Matt RHP 6-1/215 R/R 12/24/77 So. Miss. St. Winchester, KYHill, Bobby SS 5-10/170 S/R 4/3/78 So. Miami San Jose, CAJennings, Jason RHP 6-2/225 L/R 7/17/78 So. Baylor Mesquite, TXLudwick, Ryan OF 6-3/205 R/L 7/13/78 So. UNLV Las Vegas, NVMcDonald, Jon RHP 6-2/185 R/R 10/16/77 Fr. Florida St. Orlando, FLMottl, Ryan RHP 6-3/195 S/R 12/9/77 So. Clemson St. Louis, MOMunson, Eric 1B 6-3/220 L/R 10/3/77 So. USC San Diego, CANance, Shane LHP 5-7/175 L/L 9/7/77 So. Houston Houston, TXOwens, Ryan 3B 6-2/185 R/R 3/18/78 So. CS Fullerton La Habra, CARamos, Mario LHP 6-0/165 L/L 10/19/77 So. Rice Pflugerville, TXSantos, Alex RHP 6-1/205 R/R 8/9/77 So. Miami Lake Worth, FLScheschuk, John 1B 6-1/200 L/L 2/2/77 Jr. Texas A&M Pasadena, TXStocks, Nick RHP 6-2/185 R/R 8/27/78 Fr. Florida St. Tampa, FLUst, Brant 3B 6-2/190 R/R 7/17/78 So. Notre Dame Redmond, WA
STAFF – Ron Polk ( Head Coach), Pete Dunn (Asst. Coach, Stetson), Mike Gaski (Asst. Coach, UNC Greensboro), Jim Pizzolatto (Asst. Coach, Nicholls State), Steve Smith (Asst. Coach, Baylor), Jerry Kindall (Senior Advisor, USA Baseball), Paul Seiler (Dir. of Baseball Operations), Warren Turner (Business Manager, Missouri Southern), Jay Logan (Athletic Trainer, Mississippi State), George Doig (Dir. of Media Relations, USA Baseball).