When the World Baseball Classic begins March 8, the global tournament will feature 600 players on teams representing 20 nations, including a bevy of Major League Baseball stars, and two standouts currently playing for South Carolina Baptist universities.
North Greenville University’s Marek Chlup and Charleston Southern University’s Daniel Padysak are members of the Czech Republic’s team, which starts play in the Tokyo Dome on March 9. They are in a five-team pool that could well put Chlup, 2022 Conference Carolinas Player of the Year, in the batter’s box versus MLB superstar Shohei Ohtani. Or Padysak, a right-handed pitcher, could be on the mound versus the Japanese phenom.
Having two student athletes representing their institutions on the international stage is a milestone the presidents of CSU and NGU are enjoying.
“We often talk about how our universities impact the world, how our campuses receive students from around the globe who come to be built up and are then sent to the ends of the earth,” said CSU President Dondi Costin. “The fact that both North Greenville and Charleston Southern have student athletes playing in the World Baseball Classic is extraordinary and demonstrates that God’s hand is on both our universities.”
“College athletics are a front door to our institutions for so many people, so the attention these young men are receiving is special for us, too,” said NGU President Gene Fant. “We are delighted to see Marek and Daniel on the global stage this spring. Like the rest of our students, we want them to be equipped for every opportunity, and to understand that their exceptional talents are a gift from God.”
Chlup, 23, is a 6-4 outfielder from Cesky Dub, Czech Republic. He will be seeking a second championship in less than 10 months, as he was on the field when NGU won the 2022 NCAA Division II World Series last June. He helped his home country’s team qualify for the World Baseball Classic with a home run in a 3-1 victory over Spain last fall.
“Marek is a great teammate and an outstanding individual,” said NGU Head Coach Landon Powell. “He has adapted well to our campus community and is a key part of our team’s overall success. We are excited for him to have this opportunity.”
Padysak, a 6-5 hurler from Prague, is no stranger to international competition. The 23-year-old represented his home country in the 2020 Olympic Qualifiers. He had pitched 10 shutout innings for the Buccaneers this season – with a 1-0 record and a save – before heading to Japan for the WBC.
“What a terrific experience for Daniel not only to represent his country but also to compete on such a stage against some of the best in the world,” said CSU Head Coach Marc MacMillian. “I know he’s excited, and we are happy to support this opportunity.”
The 2023 WBC is the fifth-ever, after the international competition started in 2006. It is the first since the United States won the title in 2017. Pool play will be March 8-15 in Tokyo; Taichung, Taiwan; Phoenix, Ariz., and Miami, Fla. The semifinals are March 19-20 at loanDepot Park in Miami, with the championship game slated for March 21. For more information, visit mlb.com/world-baseball-classic.
“It is, indeed, fun to list the names of some of the WBC participants,” said NGU President Fant. “Freddie Freeman, Shohei Ohtani, Daniel Padysak, Marek Chlup, Mookie Betts, Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw are all competing in the same global tournament. The founders of CSU and NGU could not have imagined their students in this arena.”