SCHEDULE UPDATE: First pitch for Friday's season opener vs. Bradley has been moved to 5 p.m. due to travel issues.
ATLANTA -- Baseball is back, and for Georgia State that means the season-opening Atlanta Challenge Friday through Sunday at the GSU Baseball Complex. The fourth annual event, hosted in conjunction with Georgia Tech and Kennesaw State, features Bradley, UConn and Minnesota, who play one game each at the three Atlanta sites.
For Friday's Opening Day, the Panthers host Bradley at 4 p.m., followed by UConn Saturday at 2 p.m. and Minnesota Sunday at 1 p.m. Admission and parking are free at the GSU Baseball Complex.
"I think excitement is the word I would use," said head coach Greg Frady as he embarks on his 12th season at the helm. "Everyone has lifted the weights and run the sprints and spent the time in the cages and the bullpen, and now we're all ready to play baseball.
"We're excited to have the opportunity to open our season at home against three different teams in the Atlanta Challenge. I'm excited and ready to go, and our team is too."
FOURTH ANNUAL ATLANTA CHALLENGE
Friday, 5 p.m.: Bradley at Georgia State / Minnesota at Georgia Tech / UConn at Kennesaw State
Saturday, 2 p.m.: UConn at Georgia State / Bradley at Georgia Tech / Minnesota at Kennesaw State
Sunday, 1 p.m.: Minnesota at Georgia State / UConn at Georgia Tech / Bradley at Kennesaw State
2017 RECORDS (SERIES)
Georgia State: 22-33, 10-20 Sun Belt
Bradley: 20-31, 6-14 MVC (First Meeting)
UConn: 33-25, 14-10 AAC (First Meeting)
Minnesota: 36-21, 15-8 Big Ten (Minnesota leads 3-2)
Free live audio for Friday's game only GeorgiaStateSports.com, GSU mobile apps
Friday: So. RHP Hunter Gaddis (4-4, 3.72)
Saturday: Jr. RHP Jake Rogers (transfer)
Sunday: Sr. RHP Jordan Lee (1-3, 6.94)
MORE ON THE ATLANTA CHALLENGE
> Georgia State opens the 2018 season with the fourth annual Atlanta Challenge as Bradley, Connecticut and Minnesota visit Atlanta for one game each at Georgia State, Georgia Tech and Kennesaw State.
> Minnesota is the only team that Georgia State has previously faced. The Golden Gophers played a three-game series in Atlanta in 2016, taking two of three, and then last May, the Panthers split a pair of games in Minneapolis, including a 7-5 victory in Game 2. Romero Greer doubled and scored the go-ahead run in the seventh inning, and Liam Henry earned the win in relief.
> The Panthers are 5-4 for the three previous Atlanta Challenge weekends, including a sweep last season vs. Marshall, Western Michigan and BYU.
> Georgia State has played an extra-inning game in each of the first three years of the challenge, including walk-off wins over BYU (2017) and Western Michigan (2016).
> The Panthers have won five straight Opening Day games, all at home, including last year's 8-3 win over Marshall.
MORE ON THE PANTHERS
> Top returning hitters for Georgia State include senior shortstop Justin Jones, a three-year starter with a career average of .288 with 77 RBI and 98 runs scored; junior catcher Nick Gatewood, who led the Panthers with a .319 average with five homers and 22 RBI; and senior second baseman Will Kilgore, the team's top returning home run hitter with seven a year ago.
> Jones is a two-time CoSIDA Academic All-America, earning second-team honors in 2017 after third-team accolades in 2016. His GPA, which is now 4.11, was the highest on the entire Academic America team.
> The top returning pitcher for the Panthers is sophomore right-hander Hunter Gaddis, who was 4-4 with a 3.72 ERA as a freshman while pitching as the Saturday starter. He led the team with 67 strikeouts in 75.0 innings, against 19 walks, and had a .227 average against.
> Following his standout rookie season, Gaddis became the first Panther to pitch for the Team USA Collegiate National Team.
> The 2018 roster features 16 newcomers, eight of whom are true freshmen. Of the Panthers 19 returnees, 12 are seniors.
> Key newcomers include right-handed pitcher Jake Rogers, a junior college transfer who will be the Saturday starter, and three probable starters in the lineup in left fielder Jake Corso, a junior college transfer from Northwest Florida State; right fielder Enrique Ferrer, another JC transfer from Florida Southwestern, and freshman designated hitter Ryan Glass.
> Georgia State’s 2018 schedule is perhaps the most challenging in school history, highlighted by Power 5 foes Auburn, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Minnesota and Ole Miss for a total of eight games.
> Now in his 12th season, head coach Greg Frady is Georgia State’s career victory leader with 329 for the Panthers as part of his 516 career wins.