Cody Empkey stopped watching the Texas Tech-Arkansas game in the fifth inning on Wednesday.
It wasn't because he's a bad fan. It's because he played baseball his whole life, and he's superstitious, and he hoped Tech would just get something started as he completed his drive home in Dallas from work. He missed the Red Raiders' attempt at a rally that fell short in a 7-4 loss to the Razorbacks. But he and thousands of Tech fans -- many of whom are in Omaha -- will get a chance to see the 1-1 Red Raiders play at least one more game against Florida Thursday evening.
Empkey had the phenomenal fortune to be at a family wedding in Nebraska last week. When he heard about the wedding in February, he said he told his dad and his brother that it might be a good time for them to fulfill their mutual lifelong dream of attending the College World Series in Omaha.
"It's always been a bucket list thing," Empkey said, nevermind the possibility of seeing Tech play. As Red Raider alums, he and his brother were ecstatic to see Tech play in the CWS. "That's the Mecca. That's the dream."
Being in Omaha is a lot like being in Lubbock, he said.
"The locals are just super-nice, the nicest people I've met since I left Tech," Empkey said, noting that people stopped them to ask about Tech wherever they went.
Although his family drove through the night after Tech's Sunday night win to return to the Dallas area, Empkey said he doesn't regret going to see a CSW game featuring the Red Raiders.
"As a fan, it was one of the greatest nights of my life," he said.
Empkey is just one of many fans to have caught a game in Omaha this week.
Tech was allotted 700 seats for its games at the College World Series.
But Robert Giovannetti, senior associate athletic director of external operations, estimated there were about 1,000 fans at the first Tech game on Sunday night.
"There's a lot more Tech fans" than those 700 seats, he said. People who want to see all of the games sometimes purchase tickets directly from NCAA, he said.
Tech is also growing its fanbase. Just a few days ago, Tech had about 48,000 followers on @TTU_Baseball, the Texas Tech baseball twitter account, Giovannetti said. By Wednesday afternoon, that number had jumped to 52,018.
BASEBALL’S. BACK. ALRIGHT. pic.twitter.com/TdigL5wkbz— Texas Tech Baseball (@TTU_Baseball) June 20, 2018
"We're seeing growth, just in a couple of days," he said, adding he expects all Tech athletics feeds on both Twitter and Facebook to increase their following in the next few days.
This article is written by Karen Michael from Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Texas and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.