While Coastal Carolina baseball coach Gary Gilmore and Arizona coach Jay Johnson both felt the NCAA made the right decision in postponing the teams’ College World Series championship game Wednesday night after waiting about two and a half hours through lightning and weather delays, that decision was not so popular with a number of fans.
For the Coastal Carolina fans who had traveled to Omaha and had return flights booked for Thursday morning, the postponement of the decisive third game between the Chanticleers and Wildcats made for a long night and plenty of stress.
Scott Chadwick, the father of Chants senior second baseman Tyler Chadwick, was on the phone with the airline until after midnight local time trying to find a way for he, his wife and his daughter to stay one more day. It ultimately cost him some extra money to pull it off, but they were still more fortunate than others.
“After some significant begging and pleading I got the Delta lady to change our flights and waive the change fees. [At first] it was going to cost $600 alone just to change flights plus the added airfare,” Chadwick said Thursday morning. “My brother is in town and he couldn’t get his stuff changed so he had to go home. Our [former] next-door neighbor from Georgia, who coached Tyler [as a youth], they were in town and four of them had to go home.
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“I got done with changing all our stuff so late last night that I haven’t talked to many of the parents, but I’m sure everybody was in the same situation and it’s probably costing them an arm and a leg.”
Honestly, it was unbelievable. It was like someone canceled Christmas. I mean, really.
Randy McGarvey, former CCU player from 1999-02
Chad Smith, a 1993 Coastal Carolina graduate who lives in Myrtle Beach, came out with his wife and son and headed to the airport at 4 a.m. Thursday expecting he would have to head home and miss the championship game.
“Needless to say it was pretty disappointing so we got on the phone and called the airline [Wednesday night]. It was going to be about $1,400 to make it work out and so we pretty much decided we were just going to come home,” Smith said. “We got to the airport at 4 o’clock and asked at the counter, asked if I could change my flight. I said, ‘Ma’am, I can’t go home. My team’s playing. Can I change my flight? Can I do something?’ I don’t know how I did it, but I got my flight changed and I’m here.
“Last night leaving, my son who is 11 was in tears and, of course, I about was too.”
There was some rain during the roughly two-and-a-half hour delay, but the bigger issue was lightning within an eight-mile vicinity of the ballpark, which requires the teams to stay off the field for 30 minutes following each strike.
Gilmore said there was some fear of more weather issues later in the evening as well and he agreed that it was in the best interest not to have a College World Series championship game finishing in the wee hours of the morning.
Instead the teams returned to the field at TD Ameritrade Park for a 1:08 ET start Thursday, with the game being moved from ESPN to ESPNU. The network preferred a primetime slot Thursday, but the NCAA elected to play the game in the afternoon – perhaps to ensure that it got completed without dragging the tournament out any further.
The June 30 finish marked the longest the College World Series had ever been extended.
I think all of our frustration was that nobody came out and said what exactly the deal was. Nobody kind of explained what’s going on. The teams on the field are warming up [after the extended delay] and they they just canceled the game. I think everybody was just confused. Everybody was feeling then, ‘Oh my God, what are we going to do now?’ Once the reality set in it became honestly panic with most of the parents here.
Scott Chadwick, father of CCU second baseman Tyler Chadwick
Unfortunately for the teal-clad contingent, not everybody was fortunate enough to find a way to hang around through the postponement.
Randy McGarvey, a former player under Gilmore from 1999-02, had watched the first two games of the championship series but flew back Thursday morning.
“Honestly, it was unbelievable. It was like someone canceled Christmas. I mean, really,” McGarvey said by phone Thursday after landing in Atlanta. “You come here being a baseball alumni, played for Coach Gilmore, played with Coach [Kevin] Schnall and he coached me my last year, and Coach [Matt] Schilling. You want to be here for those guys and the team and the university and everybody who’s put in their time, effort, their sweat on the baseball field to see this happen. Everybody was ready to go last night and the game got canceled.
“I can understand if it was a threat, but for a two-and-a-half-hour rain or lightning delay and it rained 20 minutes and there wasn’t a lot of lightning [visible from the ballpark], it was unbelievable.”
He and the three friends he was staying with tried unsuccessfully to find a way to stay.
“We all got back to the room and did our best to change flights and my first choice was over $1,000 for a flight so that wasn’t going to work. It just didn’t make sense,” he said. “Most of us have families. My wife is staying home with the kids, she’s done a lot and I didn’t want to burden her anymore, especially for something I thought could have been prevented. If it rained and poured and stormed like crazy that’s the breaks, but that game could have been played. After the rain it was a beautiful night. There was a lot of people in that stadium that were not happy. We just didn’t understand.”
Chadwick shared the same sentiment.
“I think all of our frustration was that nobody came out and said what exactly the deal was,” he said. “Nobody kind of explained what’s going on. The teams on the field are warming up [after the extended delay] and they they just canceled the game. I think everybody was just confused. Everybody was feeling then, ‘Oh my God, what are we going to do now?’ Once the reality set in it became honestly panic with most of the parents here.”
As for McGarvey, he still had a four-hour drive from the airport in Atlanta to his home in Bluffton and was going to be on the road during the game.
“I will be in the car while these boys are playing. I’ll have to listen to it on the radio or have my wife record it and not look at the phone,” he said. “It’s nerve-wracking.”