OMAHA, Neb. — The Road to Omaha started back in February when the Titans played in the Opening Weekend Challenge in Clearwater, Florida.
It officially ended Tuesday in Omaha, as Cal State Fullerton was defeated by LSU in an elimination game of the 2015 College World Series.
Family, friends, fans and university officials formed a sea of orange and blue in the stands at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha as they tried to rally the team onto victory. And even after the loss, the faithful were talking about making the trip again next year.
For many, this is not the end of a season, but rather it’s Cal State Fullerton once again returning to the elite of college baseball.
“We will be back,” an emphatic CSUF President Mildred García shouted to Titan fans standing 10 deep waiting for the team to board the travel bus. “It’s fabulous what they have done, and I want to thank coach Vanderhook, all his assistants and the players for once again displaying how Titans Reach Higher and for putting us on the national stage.”
This was a team that wasn’t expected to win a regional, super regional or even make it to Omaha. But they did all that — and much more.
“It’s pretty amazing to get to the College World Series,” Rosemary Eshelman, Thomas Eshelman’s mother, said while waiting for her son. “It’s great for Thomas to finish his career at Cal State Fullerton. It’s a pinnacle for him and the school.”
Provost José Luis Cruz said that this team exemplifies what hard work and perseverance are all about.
“When you play like true titans, you can go all the way,” Cruz said.
Mary Cupp, a fan who traveled to Omaha from Huntington Beach, said that it’s just an honor to be one of the eight best teams in the nation.
“Few get to come here, so they should be very proud of what they accomplished,” Cupp said.
Dolores Vargas said this has been one of those experiences that will live on in her son Josh’s memories forever. Josh Vargas plays left field for the Titans.
“Oh my gosh, this has been phenomenal for him,” she said. “It’s one of those lifetime experiences.”
Coach Rick Vanderhook summed up the experience and the players’ feelings about the loss during the postgame press conference.
“We’re in Omaha. You know, it’s success,” he said. “But at the end, ultimately, there’s only going to be one team happy. … “But when it’s all said and done, they got to play in the College World Series, and that’s a big deal.”
Assistant Director of Media Relations/Social Media Michael Mahi is with the team in Omaha writing about CSUF’s College World Series experience via social media and the university’s news site. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Storify and Instagram.