Not many of us got to make the trek to Clemson for regionals... But i'm sure the number of people who have been to Clemson, South Carolina AND Omaha is even smaller. One Oklahoma State fan, Tyler Segraves (@OSUFreak82), made the trip to all three postseason destinations for Oklahoma State.
This is his story. *Law and Order noise*
It all started when the Selection Sunday show was about to happen. I had heard rumblings of OSU being the two seed in the Tallahassee Regional, so I had made my mind up that I would make that drive to watch my Pokes play. I had even mapped it out several times.
The time eventually came for the regional sites to be announced as I anxiously awaited our fate. The first 32 teams were announced and there was no sign of OSU. I became even more nervous, which I didn't even think was possible. The next eight teams were announced with no sign of OSU. I began pacing... Then comes the Clemson Regional. OSU is announced as the 2 seed in this regional, and I am beyond pumped.
Game times were announced with OSU playing at noon on June 3rd. With this very short notice, I couldn't find anyone to go with me, so I said screw it and I decide to go by myself to support my team, my Pokes, OSU! As Thursday grew closer, I mapped the drive from my house to Clemson, SC, which was 15 and 1/2 hours or 996 miles, but my trip almost stopped there. My work called me and told me I wouldn't be able to go due to overload of work. Then around 6:30 pm on Thursday my boss calls and says, "If you are still able to go on your trip, I want you to go." I'M AMPED!
I re-booked my hotel, grabbed my "lucky" jacket, (we will get to this later) and left immediately. I thought the drive by myself all that way would suck, but driving through the night with no traffic it was rather peaceful ... until I reached Memphis at around 4:00 am. I've seen several episodes of "Cops" so, I know shit happens there. I'm not kidding, four minutes into Memphis, I see 14 cop cars on the highway that pulled over ONE car. My natural reaction was to slouch down in my seat to avoid any strays. (I want to give a quick S/O to the gas station attendant that brought me toilet paper when I was out. I had to google the number, then call them. Yeah, it was awkward.) I drove directly to Doug Kingsmore Stadium, home of the Clemson Tigers. I arrived in perfect time - 35 minutes before the first pitch of Nebraska vs OSU.
I hopped out of the truck and grabbed my orange OSU "lucky" jacket. Now, I have to say: it's 88 degrees when I arrive, only to get hotter. With it being the first game of the regional, seats weren't full so I chose the seat directly next to the Oklahoma State dugout. I also got to meet the man, the myth, the legend, Jay Cobb (the stache's dad) before the game!
So as most of my friends and Twitter followers know, I'm pretty loud when it comes to clapping/cheering on my Pokes. Thomas Hatch takes the bump and begins dealing. I'm cheering loud, which is probably an understatement. Random fans throughout the stadium start to notice me and start coming up to me asking me why I'm wearing a jacket when it's so hot. I continue to explain it to them, each time I'm asked. Some get it. Some shake their heads. I keep saying, "It's not crazy, it's sports."
OSU started off hot, scoring two runs in the first inning. My cheering became louder and louder as I sit by myself. Then comes Conor Costello in the 3rd inning... He hits a massive two run bomb. This Clemson fan, about 12 or 13 years old, notices me cheering loudly for OSU. He comes up and sits by me and we start talking baseball. We were actually having good conversation and he starts asking questions about OSU players. He said Collin Theroux was his favorite player he had watched so far and was cheering for OSU as long as it wasn't against Clemson. Anyway, I have another story about him later. So the 4th inning comes around and Costello comes up to bat again with two on, and he ripped a single, scoring Davis (which I believe there was a play at the plate) and I yell loudly, "LET'S GOOOOOOOOO!" and I remember the entire team running out to meet Davis as he entered the dugout. Jacob Chappell ran out of the dugout, looked up and pointed at me saying, "Thats our guy right there. Thats our guy." We won that game 6-0.
Back to that kid... he wanted so badly to get a ball or pair of gloves from one of the OSU players because he wanted that to be his second favorite team. He loved the way they played. I told him I'd see what I could do. Well, I wasn't able to do anything and he looked sad. So I said, "Hey, man...follow me to my truck" (His dad was with him and I'm not the Subway guy) so I gave him one of my most prized possessions. I had a pair of OSU batting gloves that were given to me by a close friend as a gift... but, I thought to myself, if I do this for him, he would cherish those and remember OSU for a good portion of his life. So, I gave him my gloves. He was speechless. His eyes lit up and his dad was in disbelief. He thanked me over and over again. If the Pokes win wasn't enough, my day ended like that. Although I was too excited to sleep, I went back to the hotel to try anyway, as I had been up for 24 hours at this point.
Day 2 of Clemson Regional
OSU vs Clemson was set for 7:00 pm. I got up a little early and went to The Esso Club, which is a bar all the locals talk about and it was great! I discovered that they served Yuengling and I admittedly drank a lot of it! People kept asking my story and bought me beers to welcome me to Clemson. Everyone was so nice! Turns out, someone paid my entire tab - I was shocked! I arrived at the stadium excited and well rested.
Collin Theroux was able to leave me a ticket at the players Will Call, which ended up being one of the best things to ever happen to me. I got to sit with the OSU players families and friends and they are all the nicest people you'll ever meet! Mr. Rosa was nice enough to introduce me to all the people around us and each of them were great. OSU started off fast, scoring eight in the first three innings. Buffett is in a groove! You don't know excitement until you're celebrating with the players families on the road in a huge regional game! This game is where my loud cheering finally got to some fans. Then Clemson got a single in the 3rd and a fan yells, "BOOM, how ‘bout trying to host a regional..."
Oops - bad move on his part.
I just get louder when I'm provoked. OSU added three more runs in the 7th and their fans started filing out of the stadium and I said, "Why host when it's much more pleasing watching you all walk out of the stadium sad after a loss?" and I took a video of it and posted it to Twitter. Twitter caught on quickly. So many people left that I was told by several people to go sit behind home plate and get on TV. I moved down behind home plate with an inning to go and it was one of the best choices I've made. Being behind the plate when GDub and Lienhard closed the game out was amazing! My Twitter started going crazy from people saying they could see me. I didn't know it picked up my audio, too and apparently I clap extremely loud. The best part was there were three Clemson fans in front of me who weren't happy with my cheering. The lady said, "Your clapping hurts my ears. Go back with your people." She rolled her eyes while I continued to cheering on my Oklahoma State Cowboys who eventually won 12-2!
Day 3 of Clemson Regional
I originally wasn't going to get to stay for this game, but I talked to my boss and asked if I could stay and watch them close it out, and after some consideration he agreed. Best boss ever, right?! Well, it was a late game starting at 8:10 pm. I went back to The Esso Club during that "rain delay," and I had to have more Yuengling. I met several more great Clemson fans whom kept paying for my rounds of beer, even when I tried to pay for theirs. They couldn't believe that I would drive all that way by myself to watch a game. I told them, "I'm the ‘OSUfreak' for a reason," and some of them noticed me from TV the night before. I went to get my ticket at players Will Call and made my way to my seat to watch Jensen and co. tear it up! I was extremely nervous for this game - potentially closing out the regional and we're facing Clemson's ace.
(Quick side note: No way in hell is Seth Beer anywhere close to as good as Robin Ventura. So Clemson fans can stop that shit right now.)
Now back to the action... OSU got off to a quick start scoring one run in the first, on a CC double to right! Elliott was dealing. Well, here comes that other story I mentioned about that kid. He ends up seeing me in the stands, and happens to be a couple seats next to me. He comes up and we start talking about his tournament that he played in and such, where they won the tourney. He was telling me how happy he was about Seth Beer and Chris Okey of Clemson because they played really well the game before the OSU game. So he's in good spirits. Well...along came the 5th inning. Littell started off with a single bringing up Theroux. Collin is asked to sac bunt in which Krall has a fielding error making Theroux safe. Bringing up JR Davis... he is also asked to sac bunt. Krall fields it and throws to 3rd trying to get Littell but is late and everyone is safe. The kid next to me started getting nervous, asking out-loud why Krall didn't get the out at 1st. Legitimate question. Up walked Corey Hassel with the bases juiced. The pitch came in and Hassel destroyed the ball... it's flying out to left... it left the field for a grandslam! As soon as that ball landed, I yelled my signature line, "LETS GOOOOOO" and jump up and down (as seen on the telecast as the camera pans over to me) and I look down and that kid just gets up and walks off. Not saying bye or another word to me. Corey Hassel destroyed that kids hopes and dreams.
OSU went on to win 9-2. The game ended about midnight and after staying to see the players after, I got back to the hotel around 1:00 am and was going to have to leave by 4:00 am to head back home... I was too pumped to sleep, so I just hit the road right then. I made that almost 16 hour drive on adrenaline from the win alone. WE WERE HEADING TO SUPERS!
IT HAS TO BE THE JACKET! I was getting tweets and Facebook messages asking about it. I knew it was my good luck jacket, and now everyone was believing it also. Baseball is quite superstitious, so you don't change something if its been working. You just don't.
Game 1 of Columbia Super Regional
After driving 1000+ miles I finally arrived at Founder's Park and it was as hot as Satan's you-know-what. I walked in and a lot of the OSU fans were happy to see the jacket back in action! It was 105 degrees, so, it's safe to say I was dying. But if I were to die during an OSU baseball game, I'd consider it a great life! As Ham would say, "I'm melting like a toasted cheeser out here."
I know SC has a couple of national titles in baseball, but by listening to them you'd think they never seen a game before in their lives - they boo'd pick-off attempts for crying out loud! My hatred for those people is up there with people who yell, "Get in the hole," after a drive on the golf course. They thought every call went against them and it was unreal. Hatch, GDub, and The ‘Stache Trey Cobb were amazing again in a 5-1 win for our Pokes!! Plus, Slud and Theroux went YARD so that made for a great game! We were one win away from OMAHA!
Game 2 of Supers
I had to head back to OKC immediately after this game, so I'm praying it was a "W" because I wouldn't be able to make the "if necessary" game if it came to that. Luckily it didn't. The jacket and I got some good rest the night before and we were ready to go.
The game started off slow. Pitching was dominant on both sides. The South Carolina fans were getting a little rowdy, as they (once again) thought every call was going against them. A couple of examples...the pick-off attempts. They boo'd us when we did it, but when their pitcher did it, it was okay. After a strike by their pitcher, Theroux stepped out of box to get the sign and you would've thought he flipped everyone off. They started yelling and booing him telling him to get back in the box. It was unreal. The best was when OSU sent our guys to the bullpen to warmup and something was wrong with the BP gate and they couldn't get it open. They were standing, while yelling and screaming as if there was a conspiracy theory going on against them. They were saying the umps were giving Buffett more time to rest while they tried to get in...
Yeah, they weren't smart. Also, when their shortstops belt broke and couldn't get time from the ump to change belts one of the fans stood up and yelled, "Are you kidding me, blue? You are just clearly going for them (OSU) now." Well, the 5th inning comes along and OSU forces SC to make a couple errors which we capitalize on to score three, which was enough to win it for the Pokes! I truly felt bad for the women of South Carolina on that night.
WE WERE HEADING TO OMAHA! The day I've been waiting for since 1999 has finally come! I was so happy for this team! Only one problem... I was supposed to be on-call Saturday during the OSU game. I'm freaking out. I had to get to Omaha. This is bucket list material, and I had to do whatever had to be done. That "whatever" was paying someone at work $200 to cover my call for ONE night. Yes, I paid $200 to be able to drive almost 500 miles to cheer on my Pokes! I don't care. It was well worth it!
Game 1 of CWS vs UCSB
My friend Mike and I headed North to Omaha early, early Saturday morning. Wanted to get there early and have a couple beers and experience Omaha in all it's glory. I'm happy to say it did not disappoint. We met up with a couple friends at the bar and started drinking. Our discussions were pretty much just reliving the regionals and supers. I think we were all a little nervous. We left the bar a little early to get a picture in front of the famous statue in front of TD Ameritrade Stadium. We were soaking it all in. We got our tickets (in the shade). We went to buy our CWS merchandise that we HAD to have.
It was such a beautiful game. Hatch starting against UCSB, and dealing. He was feeling it which seems to be a common theme. It was such a pretty game if you're into pitching and defense. Garrett Benge came up huge with our only RBI which proved to be the winning run. Mike and I drove home to OKC after the W in game one. I had to work the next day.
Game 2 of CWS vs Arizona
Let's just say my jacket wasn't able to be inside the stadium, as I was sick and couldn't make the game.
I want to say a quick thank you to all the parents of these players! You all have made this trip a trip of a lifetime. I know you all are a tight-knit group that go to all the games together, and I want to say thank you so much for welcoming me in to be able to cheer on your kids with you! It's been an amazing season thus far, lets keep it going!!!!
Thanks again to Tyler for sharing his own Road to Omaha. Give him a follow (if you haven't already), at @OSUFreak82.