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Sarah Higgins | NCAA.com | June 7, 2014

Higgins: The game's smallest fans

  Amy and Jeff Dulce -- Texas grads -- took son Coke, 11, to see the Longhorns play in Austin.

AUSTIN, Texas -- Sometimes, the fans with the biggest hearts come in the smallest packages.

While the adults lagged behind in the hot Texas sun, the kids bounded ahead toward their seats, eager to see Texas and Houston face off in Game 2 of the Austin Super Regional.

Nevermind that the game wouldn’t start for three more hours.

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Houston fan Matthew Williamson, 12, was one of the first fans in the gate with his dad, Mike. Already in the stands at six Cougars games this year, the Williamsons drove three hours from Houston on Friday to catch the best-of-three series.

Williamson attended a clinic put on by the Houston team, which grew his love for his hometown team, and also gave Houston leftfielder Landon Appling a new fan.

“He was my coach at the camp. We called him ‘Applejacks.’ He taught us so much. I really want to see him go to Omaha,” Matthew said.

Williamson’s father said watching the Cougars has taught his son the fundamentals of the game he loves to play.

“I play second base, so I love watching them practice,” Matthew said. “My friends are jealous I’m here.”

On the opposite side of the field, down the right field line, Texas fan Shane Myhane brought his three sons to the ballpark.

The Myhanes, who lived in Austin for 10 years before moving to Indianapolis, recently moved back to Texas and were excited for their first game since returning to the Lone Star State.

While 12-year-old Travis and 8-year-old Cole said just watching the game in person was their favorite part of the day, 4-year-old Grant had other ideas.

“I just really like the food,” Grant Myhane said. “The popcorn’s my favorite. And I already had a hot dog, too!”

Regardless of their favorite parts of the game, the brothers were all hoping for a Texas win and a berth in the College World Series.

“I think it’ll be like any other World Series we go to,” Travis Myhane said. “We’ll win.”

Few have been to as many games as Coke Dulce, 11, who attended 16 Longhorns games this season.

“And that’s with his crazy baseball schedule,” his mom, Amy Dulce, added. “He probably would have been to more if it weren’t for that.”

Coke and his dad, Jeff, flew to Washington, D.C. last summer and drove up the East Coast, stopping at every ballpark along the way. But coming home to UFCU Disch-Falk Field is still his favorite.

“Just seeing the game live is so different than watching it at home,” Coke said.

Naming Texas centerfielder Mark Payton as his favorite player, his parents said he practically jumped out of his chair in the stands Friday when Payton hit a two-run homer in the first inning to put the Longhorns up on the Cougars.

The Longhorns locked up their 35th College World Series berth with a 4-0 Game 2 victory against Houston.

Next stop -- Omaha.