AUSTIN, Texas -- “It’s Houston hot out here today!”

With the mercury inching past the 90-degree mark, Mike Pede knew Friday’s Austin Super Regional battle between Texas and Houston would be a scorcher.

But that didn’t stop Pede, Houston’s associate vice president of alumni relations, from organizing a tailgate for the 600 Cougar fans who had made the three-hour trip north.

Kroll: Major leaguers remember their #RoadToOmaha
Higgins: Omaha's Diner exemplifies city's small-town feel
Hill: Eight teams make the trek to Omaha to make their mark
Hill: Friends make living in sports memorabilia
Higgins: Omaha's vibrance goes beyond stadium
Kroll: ULL fans and the best seat on the house
Vander Voort: A visit to historic Monticello
Kroll: The ragin' beards of the Ragin’ Cajuns
Higgins: CWS fever in full swing in Austin
Prezioso: Fans visit Vandy parking deck to get unique view
Hill: Wagner's Pharmacy is 'where champions gather'
Vander Voort: Meet Maryland's head 'Turtle'
Kroll: ULL fans thrilled to reprsent state at Supers
Higgins: Baseball's smallest fans take in Austin
Prezioso: Nerd Nation rises up for Stanford
Hill: Roads to Omaha, triple crown both start in Louisville
Vander Voort: UVa. fans' mad dash to create their own row
Kroll: Ole Miss has come oh so close to CWS recently
Higgins: Cougar country comes north to Austin
Prezioso: Stanford-Vandy -- fans' battle of the brains
Hill: Batter up! First stop is the Slugger museum
Higgins: Sweating the details began in September
See more in the Coke Zero Social Arena
WHO'S WHERE ON THE #RoadToOmaha
Abby Hill Louisville, Ky.
Andrew Prezioso Nashville, Tenn.
Doug Kroll Lafayette, La.
Eric Vander Voort Charlottesville, Va.
Sarah Higgins Austin, Texas
Under a large, red U of H flag in Lot 115 in the shadows of Texas’ UFCU Disch-Falk Field, the Cougar faithful congregated before the best-of-three series commenced.

Houston, which hasn’t been to the College World Series since 1967, has seen fan base rejuvenated. “It’s no longer something to pass the time between basketball and football season. Baseball’s back in Houston and it’s vibrant,” Pede said.

Pede, who will attend his seventh College World Series in Omaha next week if the Cougars advance, hopes the rest of the Houston community will get the chance to do the same: “For our kids and our alums to experience a World Series, that would be an unforgettable experience.”

Houston first baseman Casey Grayson’s girlfriend, Kelli Camp, was also in attendance at the tailgate with her parents, trying to keep the nerves at bay. After traveling to LSU last weekend, where the Cougars came from behind to win the Regional and advance, Camp and her parents made the drive from Houston to see them take on Texas.

A few lawn chairs away, one of Grayson’s youngest fans, Ben Burch, 9, rested after a game of catch in the parking lot with two of his friends.

“I don’t even care if I fall asleep in the middle of the game!” Burch yelled in his Cougars hat, covered in players’ signatures. “The only thing I need to know is if the Cougars win.”

“I at least want to see them in the top four,” Burch said.

“No way,” his friend, Jackson Knower, 9, yelled back. “I want them to win the championship.”

“Our hitting’s pretty good,” Burch said. “We have a good outfielder named Landon Appling, and, if you live in Houston, our mascot even goes to the zoo!”

Burch’s mom, Kristen, shared her son’s faith in the Cougars.

“I’m just excited to show them what we’re capable of. Our fans are great, the team is great, and they’re still so humble. This year has been very impressive. We kept our composure and we never gave up.”

As just a few of the 7,385 fans at UFCU Disch-Falk Field, they made themselves heard every chance they got.

Even after falling to Texas in Game 1 of the Austin Super Regional 4-2, hope in the Cougar camp is at an all-time high – and a trip to the College World Series would mean even more when the road to Omaha goes through in-state rival Texas.

 “It’s not a religion,” Burch said, “but next to football, it’s pretty darn close.”