OMAHA, Neb. – Drew Parrish considers pitching in the College World Series to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Which means he fully appreciates just how unique and special it is that he’s scheduled to do it a second time.
Parrish and his Florida State teammates arrived Wednesday in Omaha, Neb., and are staying just a few blocks away from TD Ameritrade Park. The Seminoles will meet Arkansas Saturday at 7 p.m. (ESPN) and Parrish, FSU’s No. 1 starter all season, is expected to be on the mound.
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“To be able to do it two times in three years, it’s pretty remarkable,” Parrish said. “And pretty amazing.”
That feeling applied to FSU’s College World Series veterans and newcomers alike.
Five Seminoles who were here for FSU’s last trip to Omaha – Parrish, Drew Mendoza, J.C. Flowers, Clayton Kwiatkowski and Chase Haney – are making return visits.
The rest laid eyes on TD Ameritrade Park for the first time when the team’s bus made a lap around it on the way to the hotel.
The park, which seats more than 24,000 fans, opened in 2011 and has the look and feel of a modern professional venue.
“The stadium looks the same,” Parrish said with a smile. “So, it’s pretty cool to be back.”
The Seminoles will spend plenty of time there over the next few days, starting with a Major League Baseball game between Kansas City and Detroit on Thursday night.
Each of the eight College World Series teams will be in attendance, and a player from each side will throw ceremonial first pitches.
Florida State coach Mike Martin, in the spotlight this week as he nears the end of his 40-year run as the Seminoles’ head coach, is expected to be featured during ESPN’s broadcast of the game.
“These guys are very excited and as well they should be,” Martin said. “It’s really a fun time for all of us.”
Martin is in the College World Series for the 17th time as FSU’s head coach and has the rare opportunity to close his career with a national title.
Perhaps it’s only fitting that Martin’s first trip to the CWS as head coach came in 1980 – his first year at the helm.
Back then, Martin recalled, the College World Series was played at Rosenblatt Stadium, about 3.5 miles outside of downtown Omaha.
Martin remembers the famous Omaha Zoo that stood next to Rosenblatt (the zoo is still there), the Zesto ice cream shop down the block (it’s since moved to the new stadium), and more than anything else, the people he’s met and stayed in contact with over the last 40 years.
No wonder, then, that as he stepped off the team’s plane on Wednesday afternoon, he greeted a familiar face from the Omaha Rotary Club like an old friend.
“It’s really the heartland of America,” Martin said. “Omaha, Nebraska, is a special place.”
Parrish, for his part, realizes that now more than he did two years ago.
Back then, he was a freshman on a team led by its upperclassmen. And although he started FSU’s last win in the College World Series, he’s not sure that he fully grasped the significance of the moment.
He does now.
“I got kind of spoiled, honestly,” Parrish said. “I didn’t really understand the opportunity and the weight it carried, being out here.
“But being back as a junior and being able to take it all in one last time, it’s something that I want to remember forever.”
The same goes for Mendoza, who hit a pair of home runs in TD Ameritrade Park as a freshman in 2017.
“It’s exactly where we’re all supposed to be,” he said. “It’s where the Noles play. So it’s exciting to get back.”