WICHITA, Kan. — It was a difficult time for the Cal State Fullerton baseball team after its season ended Sunday in the NCAA Midwest Regional tournament.
Mark Kotsay was so drained emotionally that he had trouble responding in the post-game interviews when asked for his thoughts looking back on the past three years at Fullerton.
Dutifully, he started to answer, but then his voice halted and he pulled the Fullerton baseball cap down over his eyes.
"Mark is pretty emotional right now," Coach Augie Garrido said. "All our players are."
Garrido met with them in the outfield after Fullerton's 13-10 loss to Rice.
"I wanted them to know what the players and the leadership of this team has done over the past two years," Garrido said. "I wanted them to know how much they've accomplished.
"The nucleus of this team won a national championship last year . . . And this isn't all we wanted this year. This isn't what we tried to have happen. But sometimes baseball can be cruel too. But they [the players] made a good effort today."
As the defending College World Series champion, Fullerton was a marked team from the start of the season. So was Kotsay, the winner of the Golden Spikes Award.
Garrido took note of that.
"He made contributions this year, even when we lost," Garrido said. "And because we had won the national championship, when someone beat us, it was really meaningful. We probably helped some teams in the West this year because of what we did last year. And this year we were still one of the top teams in the country, and I think that's pretty good."
Kotsay and third baseman Tony Martinez were the Titans selected to the all-tournament team.
The most outstanding player award went to Wichita State pitcher Brandon Baird, one of five players from the regional championship team on the all-stars. Other spots went to pitcher Steve Foral, designated hitter Jeff Ryan, outfielder Travis Wyckoff and second baseman Kevin Hooper.
Selections from Rice were catcher Tim McLaughlin, outfielder Jeff Venghaus and first baseman Lance Berkman. Delaware's Dan Hammer was the choice at shortstop.
Actor-director Kevin Costner put on a Titan uniform and took batting and infield practice with the team before the Rice game.
The Titans normally bring a couple of extra uniforms in the event baggage is lost, and Costner donned uniform No. 44. Costner impressed fans with his fielding and throwing arm during the warmup.
"Kevin has more fun just knowing these players, and they have fun with him too," Garrido said. "It's all about friendship."
The attendance for the Fullerton-Rice game was 3,016 despite two rain delays. The total attendance was 31,883 for the four days.