Friday (4 p.m.): Marshall at Georgia State | BYU at Georgia Tech | Western Michigan at Kennesaw State
Saturday (2 p.m.): Western Michigan at Georgia State | BYU at Kennesaw State | Marshall at Georgia Tech
Sunday (12 p.m.): Western Michigan at Georgia Tech | Marshall at Kennesaw State
Monday (4 p.m.): BYU at Georgia State
THE TEAMS (2016 RECORD)
Georgia State: 24-41, 10-20 Sun Belt
Marshall: 34-21, 21-9 C-USA (2nd)
Western Michigan: 22-34, 11-13 MAC (NCAA Louisville Regional)
BYU: 37-17, 18-9 WCC (T-1st) First Meeting
GSU/Marshall: Sr. RHP Bryce Conley (5-4, 5.19) vs. So. RHP Wade Martin (1-0, 2.60)
GSU/WMU: R-Jr. LHP Brandon Baker (Transfer) vs. Jr. RHP Andrew Reisinger (Transfer)
GSU/BYU: R-Jr. RHP Bryan White (1-4, 5.73) vs. TBA
Live audio on GeorgiaStateSports.com and GSU mobile app for Friday's game only (free).
Live stats for all three games on GeorgiaStateSports.com and GSU mobile app.
TICKETS: Free admission and parking at the GSU Baseball Complex.
Georgia State opens the 2017 season with the third annual Atlanta Challenge as Marshall, Western Michigan and BYU visit Atlanta for one game each at GSU, Georgia Tech and Kennesaw State. This year’s event features a unique twist as Georgia State will play a rare Monday game against BYU.
The Panthers have won four straight Opening Day games, including last year’s 3-2, 12-inning victory over Western Michigan.
Georgia State returns seven position starters from a year ago, but the only loss was a big one: three-time all-conference catcher and Johnny Bench Award semifinalist Joey Roach.
The seven returning position starters combined for 322 starts last season and 472 in their careers, led by CF Ryan Blanton (121 career starts) and SS Justin Jones (106 career starts).
Top returnees include CF Ryan Blanton (.255-6-20; 15 career HR), SS Justin Jones (.290-0-24), 3B Jarrett Hood (.338-2-36), 1B Jack Thompson (.299-6-35) and RF Darius Sewell (.308-3-22).
The weekend rotation features returning right-handers Bryce Conley (5-4, 5.19) and Bryan White (1-4, 5.73) flanking left-hander Brandon Baker, a transfer from Missouri making his GSU debut.
Georgia State's 2017 schedule is perhaps the most ambitious in school history. The 2017 slate includes four different Power Five opponents and 13 games against 2016 NCAA Tournament teams, including a home series with Coastal Carolina, the defending national champions and the newest member of the Sun Belt Conference.
Eleventh-year head coach Greg Frady is Georgia State’s career leader in victories with 307 after passing Mike Hurst (293) on March 20, 2016. In the last year he has also been honored with two different Hall of Fame inductions, joining the German Baseball and Softball Hall of Fame and the Georgia Dugout Club Hall of Fame.
All but three players on the 2017 roster hail from Georgia, including 26 Panthers from the Atlanta area. Only Jaylen Woullard (Mississippi), Romero Greer (Texas) and Jansen Acton (Alabama) are not from the Peach State.
MORE ON THE ATLANTA CHALLENGE
The field for the third annual Atlanta Challenge includes 2016 NCAA Regional team Western Michigan, along with two teams that won more than 30 games a year ago in BYU and Marshall.
Georgia State is 2-4 in the two previous challenges.
The Panthers opened last year’s challenge with a 3-2, 12-inning victory over Western Michigan in the only previous meeting with any of this year’s three opponents. The game was scoreless until the 11th inning, when each team scored two runs before the Panthers won it in the 12th on a walk-off single by Israel Zackery.
Western Michigan pitching coach Blaine McFerrin served in the same capacity on Greg Frady’s Georgia State staff from 2007-10.
BYU’s journey from Provo, Utah to Atlanta is nearly 1,900 miles, the most distant opponent that the Georgia State baseball program has faced, home or away. Previously, the most distant opponents were Air Force, which travelled to Panthersville in 2010, and New Mexico State, which Georgia State visited in 2010.
GEORGIA STATE ON OPENING DAY
Georgia State has won four straight Opening Day games, including last year’s 3-2, 12-inning victory over Western Michigan. The Panthers are 7-3 in season openers under Greg Frady, with two of the three losses coming at No. 25 Alabama (2007) and at No. 6 Florida State (2010). Since 1997, the Panthers are 14-6 in season openers.
QUOTING HEAD COACH GREG FRADY
"It's fun to have three different teams from three different part of the country coming in here for the Opening Weekend. I really like the competition we have. We open with Marshall, a Conference USA team, and last year they had 30-something wins and they went down to the last series with a chance to win the regular season. Western Michigan won the MAC and went to a regional. And BYU won over 30 games and they are picked to win the West Coast Conference."