ATHENS — Greetings from Foley Field, where there’s a festive atmosphere inside and outside Georgia’s quaint baseball stadium in the wind is blowing hard straight out to center field.
That was pretty evident in the first game of the NCAA Athens Regional. Florida State and Florida Atlantic combined to hit nine balls out of the ballpark and Mike Martin’s third-seeded Seminoles prevailed 13-7 over the No. 2 seeded Owls.
FSU will get the winner of tonight’s game between the No. 4, nationally-seeded Bulldogs (44-15) and the Mercer Bears (37-27), who made the two-hour ride from Macon after coming out of the loser’s bracket to win the Southern Conference Tournament.
Of course, the main storyline tonight is the two pitchers from Houston County squaring off in the NCAA Tournament. That’d be Georgia right-hander Tony Locey (10-2, 2.63 ERA) and Mercer left-hander Tanner Hall (8-5, 4.67). They were two key components of the Bears (Houston County, that is) run to the 2016 Class AAAA state baseball championship. So was Jake Fromm, better known now as Georgia’s star quarterback, but in that instance a power-hitting third baseman. He’s supposed to be here tonight, though I’ve yet to spot him.
What I did see was an environment unlike many you encounter around this storied old baseball field. That is, rampant and raucous tailgating throughout the parking lots, tickets being scalped on Sanford Drive beside the stadium and traffic flowing in like a rock concert.
They’ve brought in some extra bleachers that have been installed beyond the field in right field to add about 1,000 seats. Capacity is normally 3,344, so I suspect that’ll get it up over 4,000, but I’m waiting to find out for sure.
Suffice it to say, it’s a tough ticket.
I’ll be here all night providing coverage for DawgNation and the AJC. So feel free to leave a comment while you’re watching the game on the SEC Network (or from your seat) and I’ll do my best to answer it.
First pitch a little after 7 p.m. Enjoy the night. Should be fun.