Rome will be the destination for some of the top high school baseball teams and their fans for the third year in a row thanks to the Atlanta Braves and the Georgia High School Association’s new partnership.
The two organizations announced Thursday that at least four of the eight 2019 GHSA classification baseball championship series will be hosted at the three Braves stadiums in the state, including SunTrust Park. Each one is a best-of-three series.
"We are excited for the opportunity the Braves organization is providing for our schools to have a genuine professional baseball experience in the championship series," GHSA executive director Robins Hines said in a release. "This has been months in the planning, and we are very grateful for the Braves' efforts in making this dream come true for our student-athletes and fans."
The Class 7A state championship will be played in the home of the Atlanta Braves on May 20, with Game 3 on May 21 if needed.
State Mutual Stadium, the home of the Rome Braves, will host a pair of to-be-determined championship series on May 21 and 22 with the decisive games on May 23 if needed. Finally, Coolray Field, which is the home of the Gwinnett Stripers, will host another classification’s finals on May 20.
There could be the potential for an additional state championship to be determined at SunTrust Park as the series at Coolray Field will move to the Major League venue for Game 3 if necessary. That would be played on May 21.
The GHSA has not yet announced the classification assignments beyond the Class 7A final, nor the other venues that will be used for the remaining classifications.
"As an organization, we strive to help grow the game of baseball and softball," Braves president and CEO Derek Schiller said in the release. "Sports play a significant role in youth development, both on and off the field, and we are proud to host high school events at our facilities to create a once-in-a-lifetime experience for these student-athletes."
As part of the partnership between the Braves and the GHSA, SunTrust Park will also host a high school softball tournament in the fall, as well as coaches' clinics and a GHSA Champions Day celebration June 2 before the Braves' game against the Detroit Tigers. The event will honor softball and baseball teams that advanced to the quarterfinals or better in each sport’s state tournament.
The GHSA moved the baseball state championship series in all classifications to neutral sites in 2017. In addition to State Mutual Stadium, series have also been held at Grayson Stadium in Savannah, Foley Field at the University of Georgia and Luther Williams Field in Macon.