Georgia fans traveling to Jacksonville, Florida, will have plenty of ways to spend time this weekend. Not only is there a top-10 matchup between the Georgia and Florida football teams on Saturday, but the two schools will also be playing each other in baseball on Friday for an exhibition game.
The matchup is Georgia’s final exhibition game this fall. The Bulldogs won their first exhibition against Columbus State 18-3.
The rivalry with Florida doesn’t just stop at football, so having the chance to play each other for an exhibition game brings an added element to fall baseball.
“Anytime you play a rival, you want to win,” Georgia head coach Scott Stricklin said. “It is an exhibition. It is a scrimmage … But we still want to win. Nobody wants to lose when playing your rival.”
Georgia swept the series against Florida last season on its way to a school-record 21 wins in the SEC. The Bulldogs ended their year on a sour note by losing in the NCAA Athens Regional for the second consecutive year. and will look to continue that success in front of thousands of fans in Jacksonville.
This is only the second year that the NCAA has allowed teams to participate in exhibition games, and players enjoy getting to face someone they aren’t sharing the dugout with.
“We’ve seen everybody [on the team] a couple of times this fall, and you really kinda get used to it,” junior Mason Meadows said. “[You start] guessing what teammates are going to throw at you. Seeing different guys on the mound, competing against those guys on the field… You really get that game feeling in a way.”
With all things considered, the players aren’t strictly going to Jacksonville just to play baseball.
“We actually have tickets to the [football] game,” Meadows said. “We’ll be there Saturday to tailgate before the game and to cheer on the Dawgs.”
The game will be played at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, a stadium that holds 11,000 people and is home to the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, the Miami Marlins’ Double-A affiliate. First pitch is at 6:30 p.m. There will also be a postgame concert featuring award-winning country artist Brett Young and Chase Rice.
“We’re just really excited to be a part of such a legendary weekend,” Stricklin said. “It should be a lot of fun.”