Recognized as one of the Palmetto State’s top high school baseball facilities, Mike Johnson Park in Georgetown is particularly at its best this time of year.
Grass is trimmed to perfect height and every seat in the stands dusted with particular care, all with knowledge the next edition of the International Paper (IP) Classic is near.
Among one of the top early season baseball tournaments in South Carolina, this year’s event will begin Thursday afternoon at 2 p.m., with festivities running through Sunday.
Along with host Georgetown, three teams from the South Carolina coast will take part, including Ashley Ridge, Bishop England and James Island. Three Upstate clubs have also committed to this year’s tournament — among them Boiling Springs, Easley and T.L. Hanna — along with Dutch Fork from the Midlands.
The brainchild of former Georgetown baseball coach Mike Johnson, it was initially intended as an opportunity to bring teams from the state’s top classification to the area for a preseason tournament. Since its inception, International Paper Company — one of Georgetown County’s major employers — has served as the event’s chief sponsor.
Originally starting with four teams in 1991,the tournament branched out to six a year later. In 1993, the IP Classic settled on eight participants, to which it currently sits today.
IP Classic tournament schedule
Thursday, March 9
Ashley Ridge vs. Bishop England, 2 p.m.
James Island vs. Georgetown, 4:15 p.m.
Boiling Springs vs. T.L. Hanna, 6:45 p.m.
Dutch Fork vs. Easley, 9 p.m.
Friday, March 10
Bishop England vs. Boiling Springs, 10:30 a.m.
Easley vs. James Island, 1 p.m.
T.L. Hanna vs. Ashley Ridge, 3:30 p.m.
Tournament ceremonies, home run derby, base-running contest, 6 p.m.
Dutch Fork vs. Georgetown, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 11
Boiling Springs vs. Ashley Ridge, 9 a.m.
James Island vs. Dutch Fork, 11:30 a.m.
T.L. Hanna vs. Bishop England, 2:30 p.m.
Georgetown vs. Easley, 5 p.m.
Sunday, March 12
Consolation games at 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Championship game, 3 p.m.
All games at Mike Johnson Park, Georgetown