Titan baseball ready for season

Coaches from the Big West, Pac-10 and West Coast Conferences held their annual Southern California College Baseball Media Day yesterday at Cal State Long Beach's Walter Pyramid and shared one opinion: West Coast baseball is on the rise.

Three of the teams in the USA Today/ESPN Top-25 Coaches' Poll are Cal State Fullerton, Long Beach State and the University of California, Irvine.

Santa Barbara Head Coach Bob Brontsema said he's looking forward to the competitive conference schedule.

"I'm excited that it's a really, really tough conference. I'm proud to be part of it," Brontsema said.

Although the No.15 Titans are ranked higher in the ESPN coaches' poll, they are predicted to finish second in the conference to No. 19 Long Beach State, according to a poll of Big West coaches.

Long Beach State President F. King Alexander was on hand for media day and spoke about the high level of competition in the conferences this season.

"We have the best baseball in the United States and we have the best fans," Alexander said.

First-year Titan Head Coach Dave Serrano has inherited a team that always has high expectations. The Titans finished 38-25 last season, 10-11 in Big West play and were able to sweep their way through regional play to the College World Series, finishing tied for seventh in the nation.

Serrano came to the Titans from UCI after leading the Anteaters to a third place finish in the College World Series. He said he's inherited a pretty good team from former coach George Horton.

"We're a very talented group. I realize that talent doesn't win. It's about makeup, character [and] passion and we're working on that every day," Serrano said.

And while the Titans lost two major contributors in Wes Roemer and Clark Hardman, the team brought in two top recruits this year -- infielders Christian Colon and Gary Brown. Both players have earned high praise from their coach.

"They're very special players. They turned down a lot of money to play at Cal State Fullerton and they are going to be very good baseball players," Serrano said.

Colon was drafted in the tenth round of the Major League Baseball first-year player draft by the San Diego Padres. Brown was drafted by the Oakland A's in the 12th round.

CSTV.com has high expectations for Colon as well, naming him one of the nation's top-five freshmen.

"Christian [Colon] has moxie as a freshman right now that is beyond his years. He has not known any signs of backing down at this level," Serrano said.

Rivals.com named Brown one of the top 10 impact rookies in the nation.

"Gary Brown is a special. He's going to be a very exciting player in college baseball. There are things that come to him naturally that don't come to an everyday baseball player," Serrano said.

The Titans begin their season with a three-game series against Texas Christian University in Fort Worth Feb. 22-24. The team's home opener versus Loyola Marymount is 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26 at Goodwin Field.