OMAHA — This is not the way the Red Raiders wanted to leave Omaha.
The ideal storybook ending to their season was toting some national championship hardware as they boarded the flight home to Lubbock while rocking celebratory T-shirts and hats as “Raider Power” cheers still echoed in their ears.
But, while Texas Tech did get its first win in the College World Series — over the overall No. 1 seed Florida Gators — leaving Omaha with these “what ifs” might be more deafening as it fell 7-5 to Coastal Carolina on Thursday at TD Ameritrade Park,
OMAHA — A Chanticleer, which comes from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, is a rooster who rules the barnyard with cunning and wit.
It’s also dangerous at the plate with equal parts power and speed.
Coastal Carolina entered the College World Series with 94 home runs and 70 sacrifice bunts.
Despite putting up 32 runs off 59 hits throughout the regional and super regional rounds, Coastal Carolina has totaled three runs off 15 hits in Omaha.
OMAHA — While Texas Tech will be watering the tree on Thursday evening, Coastal Carolina will be playing for Rafiki.
After getting swept at Georgia Tech the last weekend in April, the Chanticleers purchased a stuffed monkey at a gas station and named it Rafiki.
Since then, Coastal Carolina is 19-3. Rafiki has a jersey and one of the members of the grounds crew made him a bat.
The players feed him before every game.
OMAHA — After every double, whichever Red Raider stood on second base, he began to do something curious.
He knelt down, and acted like he was planting seeds in the ground, watering them and finally pointing to the dugout where water was being thrown everywhere by his Texas Tech teammates.
It was, of course, a symbolic gesture that these Red Raiders know it takes time for things to grow — that there are no shortcuts, no quick fixes to reach the perfect outcome. And no settling for anything but the desired result.
OMAHA — Opposing pitchers know when Cory Raley gets on base.
And they fire over to first base often, trying to keep Raley honest and stationary.
While Texas Tech fans boo each throw to first because they want the pitcher to keep the game rolling by firing across the plate, there’s a beauty to each throw, after throw, after throw to the bag. Because of the increased attention, Raley draws the first baseman closer to the bag, which opens up a hole through the right side for a left-handed pull hitter in Tyler Neslony.
OMAHA — The Texas Tech fans gave their beloved Red Raider a standing ovation as he stepped to the plate in the 13th inning.
And with the bases loaded and two outs, Eric Gutierrez delivered a single up the middle to plate two runs and keep Tech’s season alive in the super regional against East Carolina.
A week later, on the biggest stage in college baseball, the senior delivered again to keep the Red Raiders alive in Omaha and send the No. 1 overall seed home.
OMAHA — Stephen Smith walked over to where Tyler Neslony was sitting in the locker room and asked, “Did you see it yet?”
The junior didn’t wait for an answer as he pulled up a chair next to Neslony and held up his phone where he had the final out of the game queued up.