Scott Stricklin’s team had just lost 4-1 to South Carolina, ending its season, and the Kent State coach couldn’t stop talking about the CWS experience.
The stadium, the fans, the environment. Stricklin wouldn’t change a thing — except, of course, the outcomes on the field. But he didn’t sound like a man who carried many regrets Thursday afternoon. He was proud of his team and grateful to get a CWS spot.
Here’s what he told reporters afterward about his week in Omaha:
“On the off days we’d walk down (to the stadium) to eat at a restaurant or go through the tents, just to see the atmosphere and how much the people love this event. The crowds in the stands — it was just an unbelievable event, and it was done perfectly. I know people are sentimental about Rosenblatt, and I am a little bit too, but they didn’t miss a beat in this stadium. There’s nothing they left out. It is a perfect baseball park. And the city of Omaha is the perfect place for this. I’m so glad it’s going to be here (until at least 2035). It should never leave. It’s just a special place. When you say Omaha, everyone knows what you’re talking about. It’s not just a city in Nebraska. It’s synonymous with the College World Series and this town has made it special. Our kids are going to fight like crazy just to get back here.”
The Kent State players had similar perspectives. Sophomore pitcher Tyler Skulina complimented the fan support after the game, as did junior George Roberts.
“It’s one of the best experiences I’ve ever had,” Roberts said. “I know my teammates would say the same. It’s just been amazing.”
It’s the kind of first-timer’s impression of the CWS that’s been echoed over and over again, though it is somewhat refreshing to hear coaches and players express unprovoked gratitude that’s completely genuine.