Next Tuesday, the Jackets and the Georgia Bulldogs will meet on the diamond for the second time this season, this time in Atlanta. The game will not be at Russ Chandler Stadium this time, but at Turner Field for the annual Spring Classic. This will be the eleventh time the two teams have faced off at Turner Field.
Every year, Tech and UGA play three games against each other: one at Tech, one in Athens, and then one at Turner Field. Although some Tech players will go on to have careers in Major League Baseball, for some the Spring Classic may be the only chance they ever have of playing in a Major League stadium. For Tech players who grew up as Braves fans, playing at Turner Field can be extremely special.
“It’s awesome getting to play right where you grew up watching all the big leaguers, all the guys you looked up to playing. It’s a good feeling,” said junior shortstop Mott Hyde. Hyde went 3-4 from the plate last season at Turner Field against UGA.
“It’s definitely awesome just getting to see what those guys get to do everyday. I kind of feel like when we go there, it’s the same as when younger kids come here and see our stuff. Kind of like a kid in a candy shop type thing. It’s cool getting to play in such a big stadium, with so many fans. It’s just always a good atmosphere and I always enjoy it. It’s just a lot of fun,” said senior third baseman Sam Dove.
The Turner Field game may be a neat experience for the players, but the game itself hasn’t been kind to the Jackets in the past. Since 2008, and including Tech’s victory over UGA earlier this season, Tech is 11-4 against the Bulldogs in regular season play, but three of the four losses have taken place at Turner Field.
On Tech’s struggles at Turner Field, “That’s just kind if unfortunate I guess. Last year we played a close game there and it was fun, but in previous years we have struggled there a little bit. I don’t think it has anything to do with being at Turner Field, but we’ll just go out there looking for a win,” Dove said.
If Tech is able to pick up a victory at Turner Field this year, it will clinch Tech’s sixth straight series victory over the Bulldogs, and will put Tech in a position for a series sweep when they host the UGA for the third and final game of the series at Russ Chandler Stadium in May.
“It’s just like any other game; we aren’t going to treat it any different. Regardless of the situation, when you play UGA, it’s always going to be a big game, and we’re just going to go out there and try to win I,” Hyde said.
For Dove, this is an opportunity to not only sweep UGA, but to do it in his final season.
“It’s definitely a big game. You always want to get a win against those guys. You always have a little extra pep in your step when you’re playing them,” Dove said. “I think it’s fun for the fans too. It’s more than just for us. I think a lot of people who don’t normally come to games come to that one just because it’s Georgia Tech vs. Georgia. It will definitely be sweet to go for the sweep this year if we can win this one.”
As this team showed last season when they became the first ever eight seed to win the ACC Tournament, they are fully capable of winning big games. With the opportunity to play against your rival under the lights of Turner Field, it doesn’t get much bigger than that.