All eyes were glued to the large screen inside Coastal Carolina University’s Student Union theater Thursday afternoon as a crowd – clad in teal – stood for a pivotal moment in the final game of the College World Series.
“Coastal is… No. 1, Coastal is… No. 1,” a group of students chanted in the theater.
Coastal Carolina’s baseball team tried for years just to make it to the series and now the team was in the final inning of the game that would decide who won the title. The crowd could no longer sit still. Fans drew closer to the screen that brought them history in the making – an epic battle live from Omaha, Neb., where the Chanticleers faced the Arizona Wildcats.
“Coastal, Coastal. Coastal, Coastal. Whew! That bronze and teal. I love my bronze and teal,” the fans chanted.
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And then they were quiet.
The Chanticleers had the Wildcats cornered 4-3 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. An Arizona runner stood on third base as a batter steadied his hands at home plate. Three balls and two strikes later, the game and fate of the College World Series was down to one last pitch.
Fans stood with hands cupped over their mouths or on their heads, eyes still glued to the screen. Then the hand sign of the Chanticleer rooster started rising from the silent midst, and somewhere out in Omaha, the team must have felt it.
Strike three. Coastal Carolina wins the series, and the school’s first national title.
The crowd went wild – running, jumping and cheering just like the team they rooted for on the big screen.
Four-year-old Landon Cleveland cried.
“He was crying (because) they won,” his grandmother Janet Broz said.
Landon’s tears stopped briefly when his grandmother called his attention to Coastal Carolina baseball coach Gary Gilmore on the screen. Gilmore was also crying.
“They won! They won!” Landon yelled.
He and his 8-year-old brother, Hayden Cleveland, were sporting College World Series T-shirts. Coastal Carolina was their team.
Hayden Cleveland “wants to go to college (at Coastal Carolina) some day,” said the boys’ grandfather Ken Broz, a retired teacher and coach who moved to Garden City from Ohio a year ago. “Being a former coach, there’s nothing better than this.”