As the first game of the 2019 College World Series approached in Omaha, Nebraska, the Texas Tech baseball team had a packed scheduled for media day on Friday.
“Our guys are ecstatic about being in Omaha,” Tech’s head coach Tim Tadlock said. “They don’t take it for granted that we’re here. They love this game. They love to play, and they’re excited about it.”
The first thing the Red Raiders did once they hopped off of the bus at the ballpark was taking an official team photo in front of the famous ‘Road to Omaha’ sculpture at 8:45 a.m. Following the picture, the Tech baseball team entered the park and prepared to take the field for an open practice.
Since Tech was the designated home team in the College World Series opening game against Michigan, the Red Raiders were the first to practice at TD Ameritrade Park. The Red Raiders took the field at 9 a.m. for an open practice.
The open practice started with the Red Raiders warming up their arms, playing catch in the outfield. Tadlock then called the team up in groups to practice hitting on the field which is larger than most of the fields they have played on this season.
TD Ameritrade Park is known for being a pitcher dominated ballpark witch few home runs being hit. As Tech neared towards the end of the open practice, senior first baseman Cameron Warren hit two-straight bombs over the left field wall, showing promise before playing Michigan.
Chatting with the team while the players prepared to bat, sophomore outfielder Gabe Holt cheered his teammates on as he did not participate in the practice due to his broken thumb.
“(Holt’s) a tough kid as it comes,” Tadlock said, regarding his broken thumb. “He’s got a contraption to get his thumb in his glove. It wouldn’t surprise me at all tomorrow morning if he says he’s playing. If he says he’s playing, he’s hitting lead-off.”
As the Red Raiders wrapped things up on the field, the team met with fans to take pictures and autograph memorabilia.
Tadlock then joined the other head coaches on Tech’s side of the bracket including Florida State’s Mike Martin, Arkansas’ Dave Van Horn and Michigan’s Erik Bakich. The four coaches started with opening statements, showing appreciation for each other as well as walking the media through the process of earning their College World Series bids.
“Our team, we went through the regional at home,” Tadlock said. “It was a real hard-fought regional. I think we ended up playing Dallas Baptist in the championship game, won I think 3-0, and Oklahoma State came in for the super regional.”
The Red Raiders’ coach continued the speak about how tough it is to play a team in the same conference in the postseason.
“Quite honestly it was a grind, it was a heck of a series as most of you guys saw,” Tadlock said regarding the super regionals series against Oklahoma State. “Any time you tee it up against a conference opponent, was in a league like ours for the second time for three games with Omaha on the line, and everybody knows everything about each other—it was a lot of fun, but at the same time there was a lot of respect on both sides, and it was a really well-played series.”
As the press conference continued, Tadlock’s relationship with one of the most elite coaches in college baseball was brought up. Florida State’s Martin joked and shared a story about an encounter Tadlock and he had two seasons ago.
“(Tadlock) calls me about two years ago and says, ‘you got a couple games, I’ve got two days, do you want to come?’” Martin said. “I said, ‘I don’t have any guaranteed money.’ He said, ‘that’s okay, we’ll be down there next week, okay?’ Okay. So he comes in and kicks our butt. He ain’t never going to get another phone call.”
Tadlock’s relationship with Arkansas’ Van Horn was also brought up as they both coached at junior colleges in Texas at the same time.
“I’ve known Tim (Tadlock) forever,” Van Horn said. “I mean, just – we were junior college coaches in Texas and just kind of worked our way through it, and fortunate enough to be here.”
The Red Raiders’ leader then later reflected on his experience as a junior college coach.
“You know, it was the time of my life, quite honestly,” Tadlock said. “It teaches you a lot of things. Probably the biggest thing, though, is right off the bat you’ve got to go look people in the eye and get them to come play for you because you’ve got a baseball field and you’re going to ask them to drag the field, you’re going to ask them to mow the field. You’re going to ask them to help you along the way.”
Tadlock continued to mention how being a head coach at a junior college helped him learn how to get good players, no matter what school he coached at and ended his story mentioning the relationships he built, he said.
“The cool thing is the relationships you build along the way,” Tadlock said. “I’ve heard from – this week literally probably heard from 40 guys that played for me 20 years ago. Those relationships go a long way. A little tough when they send pictures of their kid in a baseball uniform at six, and they go, ‘hey, he’s coming to play for you,’ and I’m like, ooh.’”
After the coaches press conference ended, Tadlock and the Red Raiders had time to relax before heading back to the ballpark for the opening ceremony at 8:45 p.m.
Each team competing for the national championship in the College World Series was announced with a recap of their seasons at the start of the ceremony. The team captain from each team poured dirt from their ballparks at home on home plate.
Tech dominated the College World Series academically as the Red Raiders had the highest team grade point average (GPA) of the eight teams. Sophomore Braxton Fulford was also recognized as he earned the highest GPA of the players competing for the national title in Omaha.
The ceremony ended with a performance by Eli Young Band after the U.S. Navy Blue Angels flew over the stadium with skydivers holding each teams' flags along with the American flag. After the country bands' show, the ceremony concluded with a firework show at 10 p.m.
Tech and Michigan will play the opening game of the 2019 College World Series at 1 p.m. at TD Ameritrade Park on Saturday.