Georgia Tech head coach Danny Hall congratulates Georgia head coach Scott Stricklin on a 8-7 victory in the Spring Classic during a NCAA college baseball game at SunTrust Park on Tuesday, May 9, 2017, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton

Tech-UGA baseball to switch to three-game weekend series

The Georgia Tech-Georgia baseball series that begins Tuesday night at Russ Chandler Stadium will continue the scheduling pattern in which the two teams have largely met ever since Tech left the SEC in 1964 – mid-week games throughout the season.

Starting next year, however, the Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets will play a more traditional three-game weekend series, with one game at Russ Chandler, another at UGA’s Foley Field and the third at SunTrust Park, the last being the annual fund-raiser for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Tech coach Danny Hall revealed the plan to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday.

Hall said the plan is to play under this format for the next two years early on in the season before conference play begins. It’s an idea that Hall and Bulldogs coach Scott Stricklin had discussed as they crossed paths on the recruiting trail, he said. Continuing to play the fundraiser at SunTrust was important to both.

“The biggest hurdle was really the Braves because that’s a month earlier than they open up, so getting their grass and everything up to speed to play a game in there, that was kind of the biggest hurdle,” Hall said. “We’re very thankful that the Braves have said they can do it and I think it’ll just be great for both schools and great for the fans early in the season to kind of have a marquee weekend for college baseball in the state.”

Stricklin echoed Hall’s enthusiasm for the series.

“It’s a great rivalry and playing on the weekend will allow more of our fans to see the games,” Stricklin wrote in a text message to DawgNation staff writer Chip Towers. “Thanks to the Atlanta Braves and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta for their cooperation.”

Hall said that he and Stricklin noticed the success of other intra-state ACC-SEC matchups that are played as a weekend series such as Clemson-South Carolina and Miami-Florida. Hall said it can also serve as a fitness test before conference play begins.

Having a weekend set could serve to bring more attention to the series, which has normally been played out over several weeks as mid-week games. This year, for example, Tech and UGA will continue the series with a game in Athens April 9 and then the final game of the series April 23 at the Braves’ SunTrust Park.

From a competitive standpoint, the Jackets and Bulldogs can now pitch their best starters against their arch-rivals. Normally, teams reserve their top three starters to pitch in weekend series and then either use No. 4 starters or piece together games with the bullpen for midweek games.

Tuesday’s game holds its own intrigue. Georgia is ranked fourth nationally (D1baseball.com) at 21-3 and has won 12 of its past 13 games. Tech is 16-8 and just won two of three at then-No. 4 Louisville this past weekend. It was Tech’s most significant road series victory since beating a top-five North Carolina team in 2016, which was also the last time the Jackets made the NCAA tournament.

“(We’ve got) a long way to go, but not too many people are going to go in there (to Louisville) and get two of them,” Hall said. “Definitely need to feel good about that and move on and use it as momentum.”

Tech has lost its past six games to the Bulldogs. As such, it was suggested, the Jackets need no more motivation for Tuesday’s game.

“We do not,” Hall said.

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