UC Irvine feels at home in Omaha

"I try to explain to people," said Pope, the longtime administrator. "The College World Series is unlike the Final Four. It's unlike the [football] national championship. It's unique in that the people of Omaha embrace it like no other. These guys don't understand."

Back at the Hilton, Orloff understands. He and pitching coach Daniel Bibona, a freshman on the 2007 squad, can see the ballpark from their hotel room. Orloff snapped a photo on Thursday morning. He and Bibona circulated it by text message to a dozen or so former teammates.

Responses flooded their phones. The coaches hope for more of the same reaction on Saturday and into next week.

"Our guys know that if we play well," Orloff said, "we can beat anybody in the country. These guys believe that. They've embraced it. They play hard. I think the fans here are going to love them."

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