BASEBALL: Arkansas stadium provides elite atmosphere
More than 10,000 fans attend weekend series vs. Ball State
The bus had only left Baum Stadium a few hours before, but Ball State University catcher Zach Dygert was ready to go back.
Ball State opened the season with a three-game series at the University of Arkansas, playing in what is widely considered to be one of the best college baseball stadiums in the country.
The Cardinals took one game from the No. 15 team in the country, playing in front of crowds as large as 5,827.
"It was one of the nicest and most enjoyable experiences, as far as atmosphere goes, in my career," Dygert said. "I'd love to go back for another weekend. I had a really good time."
Before the series, coach Greg Beals said he scheduled the series to prepare Ball State for the NCAA Tournament.
"Our goal is to play in a Regional," Beals said. "So before we get there I wanted to play in some Regional environments."
Arkansas has hosted four NCAA Regionals and one Super Regional in Baum Stadium. The field can hold more than 10,000 fans, and looks more like a minor league ballpark. Since it opened, both Baseball American and rivals.com have named it the best collegiate stadium in the nation.
Reliever Morgan Coombs said he had to contain his emotions pitching in front of the large crowds.
"When you first get out there it's a big adrenaline rush," he said. "You can't get too amped up, because that's when you make mistakes. I had to stay composed."
In all, more than 10,000 people attended the series. The number would have been higher, but only 918 fans showed up Sunday after a rain delay. Last year, 15,475 people saw Ball State play all season.
Dygert said the ballpark and fans made it easier for the Cardinals to respond with a 5-2 upset Saturday after losing Friday.
"They have intense fans," Dygert said. "It's a great atmosphere, a great place to play."