UCI still diamond in rough


June 06, 2006|By BARRY FAULKNER

It's not likely that anything could soften the sting of a pair of one-run losses that eliminated the UC Irvine baseball team from the NCAA Regionals.

But the fact that Missouri, which sent the Anteaters packing with a 5-4 triumph in 14 innings on Saturday, went on to win the four-team mini-tournament, should help convince those concerned with such things that Coach Dave Serrano's program is not far from where he believes it can and should be.

The Anteaters, who concluded their season 36-24, battled the Tigers ? who opened the season in the Top 10 and will now take on Cal State Fullerton in this week's Super Regional ? inning upon maddening inning for nearly five hours Saturday at Pepperdine.


Missouri, which dropped the opening game to Pepperdine, 3-2, rebounded to win the next four. After slipping past UCI, the Tigers eliminated UCLA, 2-1, then beat Pepperdine, 4-1, on Sunday to force Monday's deciding game. Mizzou defeated the Waves, 8-3, Monday to advance.

But for a lack of some of UCI's trademark small-ball execution Saturday, it may have been Missouri living vicariously through the fortunes of the advancing Anteaters.

But, as Serrano said, anyone can play the coulda, woulda, shoulda game.

Among Serrano's other postgame comments after the Missouri loss, was a tribute to this team and a pledge for the future.

"As disappointed as I am right now, I'm very, very proud of this team, my coaching staff and everyone associated with this program," Serrano said. "We might not have ended up champions on the field, but we were definitely champions as people. As a coach, I guess that's all you can ask.

"I think we overachieved. I think the 2006 Anteater ballclub that won 36 games and came to a second regional is definitely going to be the building block for this program, which I'm very proud to be running."

Serrano will say goodbye to notable seniors Glenn Swanson, Jaime Martinez, Gary Dudrey and Danny McCarthy.

Junior Friday-night starter Justin Cassel and junior closer Blair Erickson also figure to depart after being selected in the Major League draft that begins today.

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