Baughman, Robey talk CWS experience
OMAHA, Neb. – For Chris Baughman, Oxford High’s head baseball coach, and Patrick Robey, the head coach at Lafayette, the College World Series experience was everything they thought it would be, and more.
Baughman, while in a car headed back to Oxford Wednesday morning, called his time in the heartland “unbelievable.” He said that he will be back again, even if the Rebels aren’t one of the eight teams involved.
“My wife, she’s just not a huge baseball, but she had a great time. It was a great time for my family, they just had a blast. If you’ve got a kid that’s anywhere from 4 to 13, you don’t ever leave the ballpark,” Baughman said. “It’s unreal how much is put on and how well it’s put on out there.”
One of the things Baughman learned about the CWS was just how much the area people love the sport of baseball.
“There is such an appreciation for it. They tailgate out here, it’s almost like a football game back home without The Grove. Yes, Swayze (Field) is a complete and totally different atmosphere, especially for regionals and super regionals, but as far as having eight fan bases, and really more than that, come together?” Baughman said. “I saw a ton of LSU fans down there and a lot of Mississippi State fans. You get all those fan bases together in one central location, you just see how much they love baseball, how much they love great baseball.”
TD Ameritrade’s dimensions have been addressed over and over again during the week by coaches and Baughman noticed how the very large park plays into all the moves made during a game. Baughman also observed Ole Miss being a lot more aggressive on hit-and-run situations and more bunts, due to the park, and the quality of pitching teams routinely face.
“The one thing I was able to learn more than anything in person, and you see it on TV, but what you see when you’re here is how much that park changes the way coaches manage a game. Coach (Mike) Bianco and his staff were going to win the ballgame in the bottom of the ninth the other day. Had they not? I would have been real worried because I don’t know of anybody else we had on the bench,” Baughman said. “In high school it’s easier because we have the re-entry rule, but before I do that I always make sure I have somebody I’m comfortable with putting in there. At that level, they have more guys, and we knew they still had Wyatt Short who could play the outfield. But, the one thing that I saw that was different than what I do was (Bianco) was going to go win it in the bottom of the ninth. You go win it when you have a chance.”
Robey came to Omaha via I-80 from Chicago. He joined his wife for a work related conference, and the couple brought their two kids as well. After watching the Chicago White Sox host the Kansas City Royals Friday night, the Robeys headed to Omaha Saturday morning, just in time to see the Rebels take on Virginia Sunday night.
Robey called Tuesday’s 2-1 win over Texas Tech “awesome” and he gave great reviews to the experience, 19 years after he was here last.
“I had the pleasure of going out there as a senior in high school for my senior trip in 1995. It was a spectacle then, but it was nowhere near what it is now,” Robey said. “It’s was very, very neat. Rosenblatt: I would call it, an older type stadium. You could tell that just by visiting with the local people there. Every year, no matter who is playing, it’s just a big tradition. With TD Ameritrade, everything is spread out. We did sit by one couple who had been coming for years. You see on TV how it gets bigger and bigger, but to just be there and experience it 19 years later in person, it’s really, really neat to see how much it has grown.”
Like Baughman, Robey picked up on how the teams interacted with each other and just approached the game, good tips for him in getting those things across to his players.
“What I learned from it isn’t so much the strategy of playing in that park, but what those teams do. You watch Ole Miss and Mississippi State and Delta State and Southern Miss, the in-state schools and what their coaches do. But I’m watching Virginia and I’m watching Vandy, watching Louisville and the things they do pre-game and always trying to pick something up,” Robey said. “It was pretty neat to see that. They’re all talented, but there has to be that chemistry. There is no doubt that those guys are watching and hanging on every single pitch in the dugout. I made the comment to my guys that when you’re watching this game, watching any game, notice how all those 25 guys in the dugout are pulling for each other. That’s something that is a big characteristic of all those teams there.”