Larry Casian is an Assistant Coach and Recruiting Coordinator for the University of Portland Pilots. The Pilots are 31-9, 11-1 in the West Coast Conference. They are ranked #22, and have won 11 straight. They will host the University of San Diego Toreros this weekend in a battle for first place in the WCC.
Bob Broughton, CBB: You had a fairly interesting professional career, including some time in the Major Leagues. What can you tell us about it?
Larry Casian: I got drafted in the sixth round out of Cal State Fullerton. Pitched for the Minnesota Twins for parts of four years. Chicago Cubs for parts of three years, and then a couple of other teams.
BB: Was coaching a college team something that you always wanted to do, or was it something that came up when your pro career was over?
LC: I’ve always wanted to coach college kids, and get the opportunity to make an impact on players as they’re coming up through the system.
BB: What steered you into Corban University?
LC: I live in Salem, OR, and the head coach called me one day and said, “How’d you like to be my pitching coach?” I said, “Where are you located?” and he said, “On the other side of Salem.” I didn’t even know where it was.
BB: It was called Western Baptist then.
LC: Exactly. He called me, we had lunch at the school, and I said, “Sure, I’ll be your pitching coach.”
BB: Most of the people who read this aren’t going to know anything more about Corban than you did. It’s about 800 students, and they don’t play ball in Sundays. How did you go about recruiting ball players when you can’t play on Sundays?
LC: You have to be a Christian to go to the school, and that’s one of the aspects they maintain as a school, you have to be a Christian student, so that’s who you have to recruit.
BB: Corban has sent a couple of players to pro ball. Were any of them at Corban when you were coaching there?
LC: Yes, Rich Dorman [Rays, 2000, 13th round] and Jason Braun [Reds, 2009, 29th round].
BB: You also coached the current coach at Corban, Nate Mayben. I met Nate a couple of years ago, and I was quite impressed with him.
Let’s go on to the University of Portland. You guys are having a great year. What is it that’s making a difference for you?
LC: Our pitching is really good. We have a solid corps of starters with Kyle Kraus, Zach Varse, Owen Jones, Scotty Burris was in there to start, and the pitching has done well. Head Coach Chris Sperry, when I was brought in, basically I was told, “Let’s get the pitching well.” We have great catching, with both Beau Fraser and Rocky Gale behind the dish.
You want to be good up the middle. We have two Freshman All-Americans at second and short, Riley Henricks and Kris Kauppila. Craig Smith is having another good year in center field. So, that’s how you’re supposed to build a team, right up the center.
BB: You’ve got a big series coming up with University Of San Diego. Is there any "buzz" in the Portland area about this series?
LC: We feel that the baseball community is getting behind the Pilots for the upcoming series against San Diego. The winner of the series will have the league championship advantage with six games remaining.