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UCI's Serrano leading by example

BASEBALL: Third-year coach propels Anteaters to College World Series, and toward success in life.

June 18, 2007|By Barry Faulkner

Parker Serrano, who like most 3-year-olds waddles as much as he runs, is frequently unleashed onto the field after UC Irvine baseball games at Anteater Ballpark. He teeters under the weight and volume of an adult batting helmet that he has taken to, much like his peers cling to their favorite blanket.

It's never long before his dad, third-year UCI Coach Dave Serrano, scoops him up like a slow-rolling grounder, and greets him with a kiss and a squeeze. Soon thereafter, the elder Serrano greets his wife Tracy, while son Kyle, 11, is often tidying up the dugout to complete his duties as team bat boy.

Middle son Zachary, 9, is sometimes part of the postgame welcoming party as well.

It is a display that doubles as an unintentional lesson to Serrano's players: that there are more important things than fretting over striking out three times, giving up a game-deciding home run; or even relishing the program's first berth in the College World Series.

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It is a lesson Serrano, whose passion for baseball drove him to make it his profession, learned well into his eight-year tenure as pitching coach and recruiting coordinator at Cal State Fullerton.

Ironically, No. 4-ranked UCI (45-16-1) faces Cal State Fullerton (38-24) in an elimination game today at 11 a.m. at Rosenblatt Stadium.

And for all the wisdom he absorbed from coaching mentors George Horton, Augie Garrido, Wally Kincaid and Rod Delmonico — on the field and off — the aforementioned lesson was delivered with devastating results by his mother, Carole, only a few years ago.

"Probably my two biggest influences have been my mom and dad [Sam]," Serrano said. "And probably the biggest influence on my life, besides all those great coaches and mentors, was made when my mom was dying of cancer."

The news hit Serrano like a fastball between the eyes, just before boarding a plane for Omaha with the CWS-bound Cal State Fullerton team in 2001.

"She didn't want to call me, but she knew I was going to find out about it, and she wanted me to hear it from her that she had [pancreatic] cancer," Serrano said.

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