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COLLEGES:UCI style not so novel in Texas

May 30, 2007|By BARRY FAULKNER

UC Irvine baseball coach Dave Serrano said he is much happier to be getting on a plane than a bus to venture to an NCAA Regional this season. He is clearly eager to expose what he calls "Anteater Baseball" to an audience that may not have seen it before.

He got his wish to a degree, when the No. 9-ranked Anteaters (40-15-1) were shipped to Round Rock, Texas to square off against host Texas (44-15), Wake Forest (33-27) and Brown (27-19) in the four-team, double-elimination tournament that begins Friday.

But the Anteaters' brand of baseball, based on what Serrano calls the inside game — more commonly referred to as small ball — is nothing new to the folks within driving distance of Texas' capital city of Austin.

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In fact, the very blueprint that Serrano and his staff have used to earn back-to-back regional berths, including a school Division I record for victories this season, was all but patented by one August Edmun Garrido Jr., who has claimed two of his five national championships in 10 years at the helm of the Longhorns.

Garrido, who still frequents Newport Beach in the offseason, won his three other NCAA titles at Cal State Fullerton, where his passion for bunting, stealing, scrapping, and thinking his way to victory continues for the Titans, for whom Serrano both played and coached. Garrido, 68, has choreographed an NCAA-record 1,627 victories in this his 39th season as a head coach.

Serrano, in fact, learned first-hand from the Master as a pitcher for Garrido's 1986 Titans. And just in case Serrano's memory needed jarring after coaching stints at Cerritos College and the University of Tennessee, he spent eight seasons at Fullerton as Garrido protégé George Horton's pitching coach from 1997-2004.

Texas fans, as well as those hunkered in the Longhorns' dugout, will surely recognize the Anteaters' style of play as their own.

Wake Forest and Brown, however, might want to take a note or two.

UCI BY THE NUMBERS

Regardless of its novelty, Serrano's approach is clearly working. And, as the patrons of Anteater Ballpark have seen, there's much more to Serrano's squad than the squeeze play, the hit and run, the double steal and taking the extra base.

Junior first baseman Taylor Holiday, summed it up when he said the key to this team's success is "doing the little things." But in focusing on the details, the 'Eaters accomplishments have been forged in broad strokes.

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