The boys are back.
The Titans are making their 18th appearance in the College World Series and before the first pitch on Saturday when they play the No. 1 team in the nation, Oregon State, the players, coaches and fans had a chance to soak up Omaha.
There were practices, some sightseeing and even autograph signings, just like the Big Leaguers.
On Friday, the players — many of them here for the first time — learned why making it to the tournament as one of eight teams to vie for a national championship is such a big deal.
An opening-ceremonies rainout couldn’t even dampen the spirits of the players and fans as the event was moved over to nearby Creighton University to its recreation center, where a few hundred fans watched as the teams were introduced, and Omaha gave them a big Nebraska welcome.
“It’s just special to be here and play in Omaha for us and our fans,” said starting pitcher John Gavin.
Before thunderstorms pounded TD Ameritrade Park and the Omaha Baseball Village outside the stadium, it was easy to spot the orange and blue jerseys and T-shirts and the F-adorned baseball caps that express one thing — Titan Pride.
Don Hudson is a fixture at Titan baseball games. He started following the team in 2003, and the only series he said he has missed was when the team was in Oregon in 2014.
“My flight was canceled,” Hudson said.
So why the Titans?
“I love baseball, and these guys play baseball the right way,” the La Verne resident opined while sitting in the stands at TD Ameritrade watching the Titans during morning batting practice. “I got a chance to know the players, and they are just great people.
Hudson has established a baseball scholarship to help young players with expenses as they follow their Big League dreams. The scholarship has been awarded to Tyler Peitzmeier, John Gavin and Ruben Cardenas, he said.
“My theme of the scholarship is: “Get others to do it!”
Ed Bullock is such a fan that he bought a house in the area and comes out to the College World Series every year, even if the Titans aren’t competing.
He said he became a fan via his wife, Valerie, who was attending CSUF. She asked him to take her to a game 10 years ago, and he hasn’t stopped attending since.
“We love Titan baseball, and the fans are like family,” the Placentia resident said.
For Tom Makar, he’s hoping that this 18th appearance will have a better outcome than the 2015 campaign when the Titans were eliminated after losing to Vanderbilt and LSU.
“It didn’t turn out quite like we hoped,” said Maker, who lives in Huntington Beach. “Here we are again with another chance to do much better this time.”
For Mike and Kristi Peitzmeier, who are from Nebraska and whose son Tyler was a relief pitcher for Cal State Fullerton in 2015, the Titan experience is something that is reflected in the fan base.
“Titan fans are the best. Everyone gets along from the tailgates to the games,” Kristi said. “We are a family.”