TitanCentral.com: First of all congratulations. What a great weekend it was for the players, coaches and fans. Did you ever think Cal State Fullerton could have two consecutive sellouts? And what about all the people they turned away on Saturday night?
Coach Dave Serrano: Obviously winning was
very special but what we saw for the first time ... we've had tremendous fans
throughout but to see the community really support the team was exciting. I
even made a comment to coach Horton in the eighth inning of that Saturday
game, I said, "Cal State Fullerton has finally arrived." It wasn't
just about the number of people in the park it was about the things they did
to get our team continually going. What they did for Bacani in the ninth
[standing ovation], the roar they gave to Merrell when he came off the mound,
what they did for Saarloos on Friday night and for Rifkin and Rouse ... it
phenomenal. I want to go on record to thank everybody that was in the crowd
and helped us get through these regionals and propel us into Omaha.
TitanCentral.com: I guess you were right on the hitch Darric
had from our last meeting. He said after the game he was nervous in that
inning but how close were you to taking him out of the ballgame?
Coach Dave Serrano: He wasn't perfect and
we all get nervous. You wouldn't be human if you said there weren't any
in those type of games but he battled. He was plenty good enough to get us
the seventh inning and then we handed the ball to Mike [Nunez] who did a
job. He only threw to two hitter but was on the mark and then give the ball
to Chief [Chad Cordero] for the last two. And our offense continues to make
it easy on us and hopefully we can continue to score more runs than the
[As for how close], I did get a guy up but he did what he's done a lot this
year. He got a big ground ball double play and that was huge. Then he started
to get it going even though he was behind in the count some he made pitches
when he had to. He's done that for us all year and he pitched good enough for
us to win.
TitanCentral.com: Yes he was behind in
count a lot but how much did that have to do with the umpire changing his
zone all night?
Coach Dave Serrano: Yeah, I would say the
strike zone was a little different. I thought it was a little small. I
early on Mississippi State was getting some low pitches and Darric wasn't but
he didn't let it beat him. It shows the sign of his maturity for a freshman
that he overcame that. Like I said, it wasn't perfect but it was plenty good
TitanCentral.com: Head coach George Horton said he had never seen
anything like the performances of Rouse and Rifkin on consecutive days. How
Coach Dave Serrano: No and it was kinda
neat how it happened because coach Horton had jokingly said to the team
"Someone else can be the hero tonight. I don't think we can expect Mike
to hit another three home runs so someone else will have to do it." He
said it in a joking manner and sure enough Rifkin came through and did
TitanCentral.com: As a pitching coach, this weekend couldn't have
gone any better. Sure the Mississippi State players were not known for
the ball out of the yard but Saarloos appeared to have some real nasty stuff
Friday night. What do you think, did Saarloos have his "A" game
Coach Dave Serrano: No he didn't. In my
opinion he didn't and I'm not trying to be tough and I think he would agree
with me on that. His command wasn't as good as it has been. His ball was
moving a lot That was the same but I don't think his stuff was as good as
seen him this year. Again, just like I said about Darric, it was plenty good
enough to help the Titans win and that's ultimately the most important
TitanCentral.com: David Bacani was pretty emotional after the
It was kind of bittersweet for him being that he has played his last game as
a Titan. He's obviously a fan favorite but big an influence does he have in
Coach Dave Serrano: Yeah, I think so.
get the team going. He'll say things at the right time when he feels like
a little flat but I think the team responds more to what he does on the field
than what he does in the dugout. I think a lot of our guys are like that. We
have a lot of leaders but I think we have leaders more by action than we do
words. I consider Kirk a leader, I consider Jon Smith a leader. There's guys
on this team who aren't the super stars, the Spider Martin's, the Louie
who are leaders and they do it by the way they play the game. I credit a lot
of our success not just to what they've done physically on the field but to
what our senior leadership has done for this team. ..
Coach Horton has done a really good job of molding this team together and
it close together. He mentioned at the press conference of the team
we've had more than ever before. The players really enjoyed it. They stayed
longer than they were even supposed to because they wanted to be around each
other. This team is close and I think the love for one another on this team
is what has gotten to this point and will carry us as long as we keep scoring
more runs than the opponent.
TitanCentral.com: With the
baseball draft tomorrow how do you handle this with the players?
Coach Dave Serrano: We hope it
come into play. Guys are going to be drafted, guys are going to be happy,
going to be guys disappointed. We did talk about that today and made a vow as
a team that we weren't going to talk about that when we are in a team
You can talk about it with your roommate in your room, you can talk about it
with someone else but when we're with the team we weren't going to deal with
that. It's about Titan Baseball, it's about the Titans being together and
you're excited or disappointed by the draft that wasn't going to come into
not until June 17th which would be the day after the championship game.
TitanCentral.com: Okay, so we're going to Omaha. You and the
have been there as well as some of the players but you are going to see
on Friday night that no one has ever seen before: Lots and lots of red. How
do you prepare the team for this extra hurdle?
Coach Dave Serrano: That's exactly right.
It's going to be the first time, since when Creighton played, it's a dominant
crowd for one team. This will be my third trip. Coach Vanderhook has been
seven times. Some of our players have been there once but nobody has
what we're going to experience on Friday night. But it's good.
Coach Horton said to the team today, Ken Ravissa talked to the team today.
going to be uncomfortable but we've dealt with uncomfortable and it's going
to be good... hopefully we'll come out on the good end of it, just to relish
it. We're going to walk into that stadium and our players are going to look
around and just go, "Wow! This is unbelievable." As long as we play
the game like we've done all year long and just enjoy what the crowd is doing
I think we'll be okay.
What goes unnoticed is we have been working all year with Ken Ravissa in our
mental training and he does a tremendous job in preparing our guys for that.
I'll tell you what's helped our team more than in the past is we are on OCN
now. We get to play in front of some good crowds this year going into some
environments which has always been the case but we have been on TV. Omaha is
different. It's more than just a baseball game. It's kind of a carnival
with a baseball game being played. It's like they are in the big leagues now
and they're going to have to accept the fact things are going to be different
and uncomfortable. If they say the game times is at 6:03, for TV's sake it's
6:03. In between inning the pitchers have a 90 second window for commercial
breaks. For the regular season it's not 90 second it's when you throw your
We've dealt with this and talked about this all year long and I don't think
there's another team in Omaha that is more prepared mentally for what we're
about to see than the Titans are.
TitanCentral.com: So do you have a rotation set yet?
Coach Dave Serrano: Yes we do. We have
today to go with Jon Smith in the first game. There are a couple reason why
we are doing this. We feel he's a better match -- not saying Kirk isn't a
match against anybody -- but when you map out the whole schedule of what our
goal is, and that's to be playing for the National Championship, it makes
Jon would go Friday and you're going to have Darric available for relief,
going to have Nunez available for relief, you'll have Cordero available for
relief and you'll have Saarloos available for one inning. So you're going to
have all those guys in the mix and if Nebraska can beat us with all those
then they deserve to beat us.
And we'll come back Sunday, win or lose, and that will be Saarloos' game. Our
next game would be Merrell's game. Hopefully we're 2-0 going into Wednesday's
game and Merrell pitches and if for some reason we lose that game, Johnny
pitches the "if" game that next Friday and then you have Saarloos
for the Championship.
So we're going to be able to throw our best bullets a lot of times in these
games and that's what happens in the College World Series with all the days
off, rightly so. You're going to have to beat the best and they're going to
have to beat your best.
And if we're fortunate enough to go 3-0, which is going to be very tough to
do, then that championship game we'll have Saarloos, Smith and Cordero all
... We were finally able to rest Johnny and he's going to be at full strength
and I think it will work out good for us
TitanCentral.com: Nebraska early Scouting
Coach Dave Serrano: Very solid
baseball team. Kind of similar to us. They're aggressive. They like to run
bases and the guy we're going to face on Friday night, Shane Komine, is a
very good pitcher. Comparable to Kirk Saarloos. A good college pitcher who's
won a lot of games and is going to be very tough to beat. He's a pitcher. He
can throw two or three pitches over the plate, he mixes it well and he's a
They handily won the Big 12 which is a good conference. They went through
conference tournament and they won that. One advantage we do have is how many
player we have back who have College World Series experience and the fact
I think the pressure's on all them because they're playing in front o all
people. All the fans are there for them and I think there's going to be more
pressure on them then there will be on us.
TitanCentral.com: I believe
CBS gets to pick the game but why USC and Georgia and were there are hard
Coach Dave Serrano: We kind
of felt that this morning that they would go this route because of that one
which wasn't completed until today. Our goal is to play on CBS for the
game. Believe me we will forget all about not playing on CBS Saturday
if we can play it on June 16th.