June 14, 2002
By TOM VINT
AP Sports Writer
OMAHA, Neb. – Georgia Tech left-hander Kyle Bakker remembers the last time the Yellow Jackets were in the College World Series.
“Yeah, I got all the players’ autographs,” he said Thursday, as Georgia Tech (51-14) practiced. He doesn’t think Tech knew much about him then, however.
Bakker grew up in Omaha, watching the College World Series with his family and friends, generally from the outfield bleachers. Bakker grew up in a big way, too. He now stands 6-foot-9. The sophomore went 12-2 for the Yellow Jackets this season, picking up two postseason wins to help his team earn a trip to Omaha.
“This is just a wonderful feeling. I’ve wanted this my whole life,” he said.
Academics, facilities and coaches were what drew him to Georgia Tech, he said, but coming home like this is special.
“I’ve never played before 20,000 people before,” he said. “I’m sure there are going to be a lot of nervous people, at least the first inning or two.”
Bakker also likes some of the changes he sees at Rosenblatt Stadium. Gone are the old wooden bleachers he used to frequent beyond the outfield fences. New plastic seats with backs have been installed. The fences also have been moved back in the power alleys and raised by 2 feet.
A pitcher likes to see that, Bakker said.
“It sure helps, especially in a place like this. This is a hitters’ park,” he said.