The Rockford Rivets welcomed two new players to their roster during the last week of June, and those players arrived so late for a very good reason. Hunter Hargrove and Ryan Long helped get the Texas Tech University Red Raiders to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska before picking up the program’s first CWS win, a 5-3 decision over the then top-ranked Florida Gators in an elimination game.
“It’s everything you dream about as a kid,” said Long, who was also a member of Tech’s 2014 CWS team. “It’s everything you thought it would be. It’s a dream come true.”
Long noted the differences in those two teams.
“In 2014 we were all just shocked to be there, but this year we went there and really thought we were going to win the whole thing,” the junior said.
Long said he loved the atmosphere during all of the games.
“TD Ameritrade Park was rocking, and the whole town sort of revolves around the event and looks forward to it all year,” he said.
Hargrove, another junior who was an everyday player for the Red Raiders, was not with the program in 2014, and described the opportunity to play in the event for the first time.
“It was an awesome experience,” Hargrove said. “The fans were amazing, and the atmosphere was just ridiculous, and the experience was made even better by getting the program’s first ever win. … Just an awesome, awesome experience.”
Hargrove was able to check the event, in which the Red Raiders went 1-2 and were eliminated by eventual national champion Coastal Carolina, off his bucket list.
“I’ve always wanted to watch a game at the College World Series, and now I can say I played in three of them,” he said. “It still hasn’t soaked in as much as I may have hoped for that I got to play in this event.”
The week was busy for both Hargrove and Long, with everything from media sessions to autograph opportunities to playing in front of an average of 20,098 fans per game at this year’s event, which was won by Coastal Carolina for the very first time.
Both players got off to fantastic starts with the Rivets. Hargrove hit a pair of three-run home runs and walked twice in his first home. Long reached in all five plate appearances in the same contest.