OMAHA (AP) — Josh Cribbs’ road-weary “Flash Mob” mustered all the energy it could to cheer for Kent State at the College World Series on Saturday.
The Cleveland Browns receiver and Kent State alumnus arranged for a bus to carry fans from Cleveland to Omaha for the Golden Flashes’ first CWS appearance.
Cribbs was on hand to see off the bus at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, and 16 hours later it rolled into a motel in Fremont, Neb., about 25 miles northwest of Omaha.
Cribbs couldn’t ride with the fans because he had to attend a Browns practice. He flew into Omaha shortly before first pitch and sat with his new friends.
The bus trip was open to the first 46 fans that signed up and paid $150. They sat in Section 202 at TD Ameritrade Park in their navy “Flash Mob” T-shirts.
The bus was to head back to Cleveland immediately after the game.
Mandy Grodin, 33, of Cleveland said the trip was long but fun. The fans passed time listening to music and enjoying food and beverage provided by Cribbs. There also were giveaways of pictures and shirts autographed by the NFL star.
“We’re running on adrenaline right now,” Grodin said.
Grodin had attended only one Kent State baseball game before Saturday, but she said she couldn’t pass up the chance to come to Omaha to see the Flashes make history. She traveled with her friend, Liz Sauer, 26, who works on Kent State’s athletics grounds crew.
Sauer said Cribbs thanked the fans for filling up the bus and supporting the Flashes.
“It’s very exciting. They can go all the way,” Sauer said.
STATUS QUO: No change in format for the 64-team NCAA baseball tournament is on the horizon.
Last year there was discussion of going from 16 to 32 regionals, adding an extra layer of super regionals and emphasizing best-of-three play all the way to the College World Series.
American Baseball Coaches Association executive director Dave Keilitz said feedback he’s received from coaches indicates most are happy with the current structure of 16 regionals and eight super regionals prior to the CWS.
Dennis Poppe, NCAA vice president of football and baseball, said adding a week to the tournament would require taking away a week from the regular season. There were concerns last year that reducing the regular season by a week would be unfavorable to northern programs, which struggle to get in home games early in the season because of cold weather.
“The adage is if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Poppe said. “We’re kind of falling into that rut, if you will. I don’t think in all my years in college baseball that I’ve seen a healthier sport at this point in time. The progress of the stadiums being built and the success of the teams from areas that have not normally had success… I think those are all good signs for college baseball.”
BATS GET THE OK: The toned-down bats of the past two seasons have won the approval of most coaches, according to an American Baseball Coaches Association survey.
The survey, according to executive director Dave Keilitz, asked coaches whether they like or found the new bat standards acceptable or whether they don’t like the bats.
Keilitz said 84 percent of Division I coaches liked or found the bats acceptable and 16 percent did not. In Division II and III, he said, 90 percent of the coaches liked or found the bats acceptable.
“It puts more of the old traditional baseball back in the game with the hit-and-run, the sacrifice bunt, the bunt for a hit,”
MARTIN LIKES NEW DIGS: Longtime Florida State coach Mike Martin wasn’t sure how he’d like TD Ameritrade Park, which is in its second year as home of the College World Series.
He’s quite impressed.
“I guess the only way I can describe it is I started driving a ’49 Ford, and now I’m driving a Denali,” he said. “This place is phenomenal.”
Martin coached 14 FSU teams to the CWS at Rosenblatt Stadium, the CWS site from 1950-2010. The Seminoles played in the last CWS at Rosenblatt, and Martin hadn’t been to town since.
“I’ve had the pleasure of walking around, checking it all out,” he said. “Mama wanted to know where she was going to be sitting. It’s extremely well done. Gosh, to be able to get a hot dog and walk around to center field and never lose sight of the ball game going on, that’s quite a feat.”
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