UC Irvine’s Baseball Messiah
When looking at the resume of UC Irvine men’s baseball coach Dave Serrano, one can only think of one word to epitomize his career thus far: success.
Prior to accepting the head coach position at UCI three years ago, Serrano had one of the most impressive tenures as an assistant coach in Division I baseball. He had six Big West Conference titles, a Southeast Conference championship, 10 NCAA regional appearances, five College World Series appearances and a national championship in 2004.
He has coached under three National Coach of the Year winners and was even named American Coaches Association/ Baseball America Assistant Coach of the Year for leading the Cal State Fullerton pitching staff to an impressive 1.83 earned run average in the College World Series en route to a national championship victory over top-seeded Texas in 2004.
In only three seasons, Serrano has made UCI a national presence. Last season, he led the Anteaters to a record 36 victories, which was the highest total since the 1980 Anteaters’ 37 victories. He did not stop there. The Anteaters recorded 40 regular season wins and the season is not even over yet. He has led the Anteaters to their third NCAA playoff appearance in four years.
This season, Serrano has led the Anteaters to a 40-15-1and has nine players named to the Big West All-Conference team. He has two fine top-of-the-rotation pitchers in Wes Etheridge and Scott Gorgen, who was Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year last year.
This sudden success is no surprise for any Serrano follower and should not be surprising for any Anteater fan. Success has followed Serrano all his life.
Serrano graduated from nearby Cerritos High School in 1982. He pitched for two years at Cerritos College, where he went 12-1 for the 1985 Junior College State champions. He then pitched at Cal State Fullerton, where he went 3-4 and had a save in 15 appearances.
He began his coaching career in 1988 at Cerritos College. In his seven seasons there, the team won six conference titles and a state championship in 1989.
In 1995, he accepted a coaching job at the University of Tennessee. He was the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator. He helped the Volunteers reach the College World Series for the first time in 44 years and even coached current Major League Baseball first baseman Todd Helton
Though Serrano was a part of many teams’ successes, his talents were not nationally known until the 2004 College World Series.
He can be considered a pitching genius. He has mentored 26 All-Big West Conference pitchers. Six of his players have earned conference Pitcher of the Year honors. He has led five of his pitching staffs to the best era in the Big West. His staffs have been ranked in the top 25 six times since 2000.
Perhaps the most successful pitcher he has coached is Chad Cordero, who led the Major Leagues in saves with 47 in 2005, the same year he was selected to the National League All-Star team. Serrano is currently mentoring another dominant and successful pitcher in senior Blair Erickson, who broke the NCAA saves record with his 50th earlier this year.
Serrano stresses discipline with all his players, and this has definitely shown in the Anteaters’ game this season. The Anteaters play a more technical ‘small-ball’ style of play, relying on strategic hitting to produce runs, much like the current Los Angeles Dodgers. The pitching staff is in good hands under Serrano, who also stresses strong defensive play.
‘This coaching staff will never be satisfied. We are constantly working to win, and getting better in every way possible. Through discipline and hard work we can achieve our goal of being competitive every year,’ Serrano said.
With that hungry attitude, success and Serrano will often be seen in the same sentence for many years to come.