Around the Bases
A Titanic Homecoming
Win for Serrano
By Abbey Mastracco
IRVINE, Calif. – It was the match-up of the
With the sense of betrayal still fresh in the minds of the No.
5-ranked UC Irvine Anteaters (2-2 Big West, 19-4 overall), the
feeling sunk in even more as Dave Serrano, the Anteaters’ former
head coach who led them to the College World Series less than a
year ago, led Irvine’s Big West foe, Cal State Fullerton (3-1
Big West, 17-9 overall) to a 12-5 victory Friday night in front
of 3,176 at Anteater Ballpark.
Returning to his former home turf, Serrano’s Titans silenced
Anteater Ballpark’s largest crowd ever recorded in what proved
to be a very happy homecoming.
“It was emotional,” Serrano said. “It’s like playing checkers
against your son.”
Serrano’s ace, Jeff Kaplan (4-1), who entered Friday night’s Big
West contest with a somewhat inflated 5.97 ERA, the lowest of
the CS Fullerton staff, pitched a strong 7.2 innings,
surrendering just four earned runs on seven hits, walking two
and striking out five.
“I knew he was going to go out and pitch a spectacular game,”
Erik Komatsu sparked the Titan offense, going 4 for 4 with three
runs, two RBI, a walk and a solo homer. Josh Fellhauer also gave
the Titans a boost, with a three-run shot to highlight a 3-for-5
performance. Fellhauer also scored three times in the win.
Ryan Fisher led the Anteaters, finishing 3 for 4 with a triple,
a run and two RBI.
Prior to taking the hill Friday night, Serrano told Kaplan,
“There isn’t many people in the country think you’re going to
beat Scott Gorgen.” Kaplan proved them wrong.
“I think he had great command of his fastball,” said Anteater
head coach Mike Gillespie. “He threw both sides of the plate to
both right and left-handed hitters.”
Gorgen (5-2) promptly gave up the lead in the first inning and
was then hammered in the third, giving up two home runs for a
4-0 Titan lead. Gorgen lasted just six innings, only the second
time this season he has failed to throw more than seven.
“He wasn’t himself,” Gillespie said. “He got behind in the count
and missed in the zone and we saw what happened.”
“He might have been trying to throw the perfect pitch at times,”
The Anteaters managed to chip away at the Titans’ lead in the
sixth, putting them within one run of tying. Kaplan’s control
began to waver, as Ollie Linton led off with a walk and Ben
Orloff was beaned. A Casey Stevenson fly ball advanced Linton to
third and with two outs and runners on the corners, Ryan Fisher
slammed a triple deep into the right field corner to drive in
Linton and Orloff. Francis Larson continued the two-out rally
with a seeing-eye single through the left, easily sending home
But as quickly as it happened, the Anteaters’ hope was taken
away as the Titans got deep into Irvine’s bullpen taking five
runs off three relievers in the seventh. With Kyle Necke and
Noel Avison each giving up two singles apiece and Avison walking
one, Matt Dufour then came on the hill and struck out Jared
Clark, but Corey Jones capped the five-run rally with a
bases-clearing, three-RBI triple.
The win was no doubt a big one for the Serrano, who played to
fans with signs that read “Dave Serrano = Benedict Arnold”, but
it was an even bigger win for his team. The Titans have
struggled somewhat without the aid of several players lost to
the draft or exhausted eligibility from last season.
“We’re trying to grow up together,” Serrano said. “We still have
some hurdles that we need to overcome, and I think now 26 games
into it some guys are starting to feel more comfortable in their
The series continues Saturday at Anteater Ballpark. Bryce
Stowell (4-1, 2.36) is slated to face off on the mound against
Daniel Renken (3-1, 3.27). Sunday’s match will feature Danny
Bibona (4-1, 2.70) squaring off against Cory Arbiso (4-2, 3.96).