Current Date: Fri, 20 Dec 2013 06:30:34 -0500
OMAHA, Neb. — When North Carolina defeated South Carolina in an elimination game in the Super Regional less than a week ago, Tar Heel fans began scrambling to snatch up tickets to the College World Series and book hotels in Omaha.
But one fan already had all of those details figured out.
Tom Jensen — known as UNC baseball’s super fan— booked his Omaha travel and hotel the first weekend in December, and in March he reserved a room for the championship series.
“When I checked in at the hotel, they were like, ‘How on earth did you get this 45 dollar a night rate?‘” Jensen wrote in an email. “And I said, ‘Well I had a heck of a lot of confidence in these guys, so I reserved it six months ago.‘”
Like other UNC fans, Jensen got his tickets through the University.
Jensen was in the crowd for UNC’s 8-1 loss to N.C. State on Sunday, leading the Tar Heel contingency with his regular in-game rallying antics.
Like UNC, Jensen is used to working with a much smaller crowd in a less imposing venue, but he didn’t have a problem getting Tar Heel fans on their feet yesterday, despite N.C. State’s crushing dominance on the field.
“Even though yesterday was rough, they cheered pretty hard into the ninth inning, and it was never difficult to get them going as it can sometimes be at the Bosh,” Jensen said. “I know our guys will have a lot of support behind them tomorrow.”
North Carolina’s fan base is well represented, and Jensen said he thinks it’s the second largest contingency of fans in Omaha, behind Louisiana State.
Jensen sat two rows in front of UNC basketball coach Roy Williams in yesterday’s game, and he saw droves of fans come up to the Hall of Fame coach asking for photos and autographs.
“That man is a saint,” Jensen wrote. “He posed for about 10-15 pictures between every inning of the game and was cheerful as could be doing it, even though it had to be exhausting after a while.
“We are so lucky to have an athletic department where the coaches really support each other.”
Though the outcome of Sunday’s game wasn’t what Jensen and the rest of UNC’s fans wanted to see, Jensen did find a silver lining in the seven-run loss.
“All the guys off the bench and the back of the bullpen who got to play in Omaha — Taylore Cherry, Reilly Hovis, Mason McCullough, Alex Raburn, Korey Dunbar, to name a few — whatever happens the rest of this week and the rest of those guys’ careers, they’ll get to say they played in the College World Series,” he said.
Jensen has been at nearly every UNC game this year, and though the team’s losses have been few, he’s still been around to see them.
But unlike after other losses, Jensen said the team didn’t appear to be as down after the drubbing by its ACC foe.
“What I was really struck by after the game yesterday was how positive everyone around the team still was,” Jensen wrote.
“Often it’s pretty funereal after a loss, but I think there’s a real sense that with every other crazy thing these guys have done this year, they can come back through the loser’s bracket too.
“Obviously it won’t be easy but I really like where they are mentally.”