Columbia is traditionally Gamecocks territory, but these days, many baseball fans are throwing their support behind Coastal Carolina, as the team plays its opening game Monday in the College World Series finals.
Thirsty Fellow, a pizzeria and pub on Gadsden Street less than a mile from the Gamecocks’ baseball stadium, has seen a lot of diners cheering for the Chanticleers in recent days, said Cam Shealy, one of the restaurant’s owners.
“Once Clemson and Carolina were eliminated, people kind of picked up,” Shealy said. “They’re our team now, and we have seen a boost of people coming in and watching them.”
People are rallying behind Coastal as a matter of South Carolina pride, Shealy added.
At Tilted Kilt on Columbiana Drive in the Harbison area, folks are seeing the same spirit at work.
“We had a bunch of people in here watching the game (Saturday) night,” said Cliff Waltz, assistant general manager at the pub and eatery.
The team’s success might have been unexpected at first, Waltz added, but Midlands baseball fans have quickly rallied behind them.
“I think people are a little surprised, but they’re true believers now,” Waltz said. “They’re a real team – they can definitely hang with those guys.”
The Chanticleers will play for the national championship in a best-of-three series against the Arizona Wildcats.
It’s the Chanticleers’ first trip to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. – and their home state of South Carolina is watching.