What’s at stake in first Tech-UGA game at SunTrust Park

Georgia Tech pitcher Keyton Gibson pitched four innings of one-run relief in the Yellow Jackets’ 5-1 loss to Georgia Tuesday, April 11, 2017, in Athens. (Cory Cole/Georgia Sports Communications)

Tuesday’s Georgia-Georgia Tech game will usher in a new chapter in the series that dates back to 2003. The rivals had played at Turner Field since 2003 in a game that benefited Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

The game has moved to SunTrust Park, to be played Tuesday at 7 p.m.

“I think it’ll do nothing but be better,” said Shelton Stevens, executive director for the sports network at CHOA.

In its first 14 years, it’s possible none of the games had as little sheen as this one does. Georgia is 19-29, while Tech went into its Monday night series finale against Pitt at 23-21. Even if the Yellow Jackets were to win, the combined record of the two teams going into the annual benefit game, typically played in mid-May, would be the second poorest.

Despite Georgia’s record, the Bulldogs will aim to complete their first sweep of Tech in a season series of three games or more since 1984. The Bulldogs will try to carry the momentum of their series win this past weekend at No. 4 Kentucky. It was just the second series win for Georgia in conference play this season against six series losses.

Tech earned its second ACC series win against six defeats on Sunday by taking the middle game from Pitt at Russ Chandler Stadium. Four of those series defeats were to teams inside the RPI top 15 as of Monday afternoon, according to warrennolan.com.

Tech was ranked No. 49 in RPI and clinging to hope that with a strong finish, it can qualify for the NCAA Tournament as an at-large seed. The website Boyd’s World projected that Tech needed seven more regular-seasons to get into the RPI top 45 going into the conference tournaments.

After Georgia, Tech plays at Duke (No. 116 in RPI) for a weekend series, has a home game against Georgia Southern (No. 76) and closes the regular season with a series with Virginia (No. 8).

To that end, the Jackets are in a position of needing every game they can have, including Tuesday. On top of a missed opportunity, getting swept by Georgia (No. 99) would not go over well with the selection committee.

As of the end of business Friday, 20,000 tickets had been sold. The attendance record for the series at Turner Field was 28,836, set in 2004.

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