UC Irvine will be making their first ever appearance at the College World Series in OMAHA. In FACT, UC-Irvine did not have a division 1 program up until 2002. UC-Irvine disbanded their baseball program in 1992. Up until that time UC-Irvine was a Division II Program and played very good baseball. In 2002, John Savage helped resurrect the program to a Division 1 status and UC-Irvine was up and running. After three years, John left for UCLA and UC-Irvine hired Dave Serrano. Dave came in with a resume that is a who’s who of college baseball. That list includes Wally Kincaid (Cerritos College), Augie Garrido (CS Fullerton), George Horton (Cerritos, CS Fullerton) and Rod Delmonico (Tennessee) with the last three all earning “National Coach of the Year” accolades. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the Anteaters have garnered national attention in just two years under Serrano’s leadership.
With this being Coach Serrano 3rd year at the helm, he has his players playing the way that he was taught to him. Pitching, Defense, and small ball has paid huge dividends for this group of Anteaters. The Anteaters come into the College World Series with no experience playing on a stage this big. That is where Dave Serrano has really helped with this group of players with his coaching and playing experience. Dave has played and coached at Cal State Fullerton when they went to the College World Series. The last year that Dave was at CSF (’04) Cal State Fullerton beat Texas for the National Championship. Therefore, Dave has the experience and is able to take off the pressure of playing on the big stage. He allows his players to do funny skits to help them relax and to be kids.
The strength of the Anteaters is the pitching staff and defense. Wes Etheridge is 12-4 and has an era of 2.49 and opposing batters are batting .250 against him. Scott Gorgen is 12-2, his era is 2.68, and the opposing batters are hitting .234 against him. Wes throws not extremely hard but has great command of his strike zone he gets a lot of ground balls because of his splitter. Gorgen on the other hand is more of a hard thrower, comes right after you, and challenges you. The staff has a team era of 3.69 and when the it gets late in the ball game the staff will turn it over to the closer. Scott Erickson has 13 saves in 25 appearances and an era of 2.95 opposing batters is batting .195 against him for the year. This is probably the best 1-2 punch in this years College World Series with Etheridge and Gorgen starting and then Erickson coming in and closing it out for the Anteaters. The defense of the Anteaters is a thing of beauty to watch, the outfielders fly to the ball, the infielders cover the bases and make plays that help out the pitching staff. They have a fielding percentage of .976 while making only 57 errors for the season.
The offense of the Anteaters is lead by Cody Cipriano, who plays 2nd base, with a batting average of .338 and 12 home runs and 57 RBIs. When this team gets on the base path watch out, they will bunt you over and steal the bases. As a team they have 137 steals in 187 attempts to go along with that they have 114 sacrifice hits.
With Dave Serrano at the helm look for this team to be to make some noise at the College World Series. IF they can get a good start out of a third pitcher than this team is capable of making to the Championship Series.