Baseball needs fans, just like fans need baseball

Cole+Weiss+sliding+across+home+plate+during+UNCW%27s+matchup+with+ECU+on+Mar.+17%2C+2021.

Zachary Kilby

Cole Weiss sliding across home plate during UNCW’s matchup with ECU on Mar. 17, 2021.

Zachary Kilby, Sports Editor

MOUNT PLEASANT, South Carolina – UNCW’s Cole Weiss scored from third on a wild pitch to cap off a four-run ninth inning to tie the game at nine apiece. However, the Cougars would respond in the bottom half of the inning, winning on a groundball that scored Brody Hopkins who was only 90 feet away.

Although UNCW dropped Sunday’s match, they didn’t have to go through the loss alone.

“The stadium was full all weekend and I’d say we had well over 100 Wilmington fans at the games,” said UNCW alumna M’Lynn Dease.

On March 1, South Carolina’s governor Henry McMaster, lifted the state’s ‘Last Call’ order which was put into place last July because of COVID-19. Lifting the executive order meant the approval from the South Carolina Department of Commerce for events involving more than 250 people was no longer needed.

This weekend’s series between UNCW and the College of Charleston saw over 1,800 fans in attendance, approximately 600 fans each day of the three-game series.

“It was awesome to have fans in the stands,” said Dease. “The atmosphere is always fun at Patriots Point. Every conference series is crucial, but UNCW’s rivalry with Charleston can get intense, which makes the atmosphere even better.”

UNCW trailed by four runs entering the ninth inning in the third game of the series. It’s hard to believe the small portion of Teal Nation that was present didn’t help make a difference late in Sunday’s game.

“Fans play a very important role during the games,” said Dease. “I know the Hawks feed off the energy fans can bring, and I know we’ve had some crazy games that fans have really made a difference. As we get deeper into conference play, having all the support we can have is critical. We’re a Seahawk family and the fans are a huge part of that.”

One thing is for certain, baseball is not the same without its fans. It’s just not. The scoreboard may not show it, but the players, coaches, and media members have certainly all felt the emptiness of the unoccupied seats and bleachers that surround the ballpark.

“I think the fans just missed being there to support the team,” said Dease. “Being at any athletic event in person is so much better than watching virtually. The fans feel a part of the game and I think that’s what they missed most. The cheering, the heckling, just being there to support. I missed all of that too.”

Baseball and its fans are like apple pie and ice cream. Together, it’s a match made in heaven. However, when separated, each is still good, but could never live up to the original combination.