June 3, 2010
PLAY BALL... REGIONAL STYLE: Cal Sate Fullerton takes a 7-game winning streak into the NCAA Regional Tournament, which the Titans will be hosting for the ninth time this weekend at Goodwin Field.
Fullerton has won seven of the previous eight home tournaments, losing in 2000 to USC before winning in 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009.
The Titans are the No. 1 seed and will open Friday night at 8 p.m. against No. 4 seeded Minnesota, the Big Ten regular season and tournament champion. Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year Dylan Floro will be on the mound for Fullerton. He will square off against Minnesota right-hander Seth Rosin.
The other half of the field is No. 2 Stanford, fourth-place team in the Pac-10, vs. No. 3 New Mexico, runnerup in the Mountain West regular season and tournament and making its first NCAA appearance since 1962. That game starts at 4 p.m. Friday.
The tourney winner is matched against the winner of the Los Angeles Regional in the following weekend's Super Regionals. Host UCLA is the No. 1 seed and will face No. 4 Kent State with No. 2 LSU and No. 3 UC Irvine in the other opener.
The Fullerton regional field already owns nine NCAA championships. Fullerton owns four, Minnesota three and Stanford two. All games will be televised live nationally on ESPNU, thus the late starting times.
CAL STATE FULLERTON REGIONAL TIDBITS: &\#149; This is Fullerton's 32nd NCAA Regional appearance in its 36th year of Div. I baseball. The exceptions were 1985, 1986, 1989 and 1991. The current string of 19 CONSECUTIVE appearances is third longest in the nation behind Miami (38) and Florida State (33).
&\#149; Cal State Fullerton has a national championship in each of the past 4 decades (1979, 1984, 1995 and 2004) in just 36 years at the Div. I level.
&\#149; Fullerton has won seven Regionals in a row and 18 total - including a national best 11 on the road (two each in Fresno and Baton Rouge and one each at USC, Austin, Starkville, Stillwater, South Bend, Tempe and San Diego). The Titans NEVER hosted a regional before 2000 but this will be their ninth at home (7-1) - they lost the first (USC) and have won the last seven.
&\#149; Fullerton's all-time NCAA Regional record is 85-34 (.714) and 26-6 (.813) at Goodwin Field. The Titans' all-time NCAA playoff record is 134-67 (.667).
&\#149; The Titans have NEVER gone winless in Regional play. They have gone 0-2 only once in a Super Regional (2008) and five times in Omaha (1975, 1982, 1990, 2007 and 2009).
&\#149; Since the Super Regional format was begun in 1999, Miami and Cal State Fullerton have won more regional tournaments (9) than any other schools. Florida State and Rice are next with 8 Regional wins.
QUOTES FROM CSF MEDIA TELECONFERENCE, JUNE 2:
1B/LHP Nick Ramirez (on team chemistry): "This year is a lot better than last year. This year everyone gets along with everyone. The guys behind you are capable of doing the job.
(on last year's NCAA experience) :"When I went into the regional, I didn't know what to expect. It was a bigger stage and more intense. (It was a) good experience to have it under my belt. I feel like Dylan (Floro) can handle the spotlight. Once you experience it, and get it out of the way, it's just another college game."
RHP Daniel Renken (on team's turn-around): "We needed to be ourselves. We were trying to find an identity. We were trying too hard to win instead of just playing the game."
(on last year's NCAA experience): "Experience is a great thing. Bigger stage, more people watching and TV games. Have to live in the moment but keep the excitement down and stay within your game."
SS Christian Colon "The biggest thing for us right now is to worry about Minnesota. Don't know if we are going to play Stanford. They ended my season my freshman year. Definitely not going to let that happen again."
(on 0-2 last year in Omaha): "Every year in this program, if you don't play for the national title, it's not a good year... we want to get there and want to win."
(on team chemistry): "For the most part, this team knows its roles. We know what to do and what to expect out of everybody. That's something we didn't have last year."
(on slow start): "We had some bad luck in there. We were playing good baseball.. we lost some games, then started playing bad. Couldn't find a hole or get a break and that along with trying too hard kind of piled up on us. We were able to talk about it and figure out what was going on."
(on missing a national seed): "To be honest, we were disappointed a little bit, but it really doesn't matter with us. If seeded or not, that's not up to us... we did everything we could to be a national seed. We would do what ever it takes to get to Omaha. Didn't affect us at all. Not thinking about it. Of course, we have to let some people know about this. Hopefully, prove some people wrong."
(on Gary Brown): "It's a tough break for us - he's one of our leaders. He told us, hey, try to make it normal. Don't let me being out be a big deal. Go out and play and get to Omaha or Super Regionals and I'll be ready."
RHP Dylan Floro "Season started off a little slow... I got a chance to start and had to step up to keep my job. "
(on confidence): "For a freshman coming into Div. I and pitching that well, it helps your confidence. Just have to keep doing it."
HEAD COACH Dave Serrano "Three months ago when we were 7-9 and kind of spinning our wheels, I was wondering what was going on with this team... talented with a lot of experienced players coming back ... then something clicked for this group. They won the Big West going away. Very proud of this group for what they did, no matter what happens in the future.
"Nobody wants to win more than I do, but I can handle losing. What's going to be hard to do is say goodbye to this team... that's the toughest hurdle... we've become very fond of this group of kids. Have formed a loving family, with a lot of love and respect for one another.
"Don't know a lot yet about Minnesota. I like to get some information on teams, but don't like to flood my brain with that. Do what Dylan Floro does. I do know they will be a well-coached team and they are a hot team right now. Do what you do as a team and hopefully it's better than the opponent that day.
(on fourth starter): "Wish I had a better answer for you. Had anticipated having Tyler Pill back in a minimal role. But he's going to need more time off... he has been approved to play the outfield but at least for one more weekend we won't have his services on the mound. Plan going in, Dylan has most resiliency of any of our guys...if had to go into Monday, probably come back with Dylan Floro. Lot of baseball to be played.
"Richie Pedroza and Dylan Floro may be two of the most important pieces of this team. Those two young men have really helped keep this team afloat. Dylan took an opportunity and ran with it. He put up numbers that almost mimicked Daniel Bibona (UCI's Big West pitcher of the year). He had an incredible year. Not surprising, thought he had a chance to be a special player.
"With Richie, it's the energy he has brought to the field. Made it fun to be around the field every day. This group has a lot of fun while we're getting in a lot of good work.
(more on turn around): "Felt that we were micro-managing... trying to change them into what we wanted our own kids to be. I was wrong and staff was wrong. They couldn't be us and we couldn't be them. Recruited them because we liked what we saw and thought we could enhance them as players. Never say I `m going to change a kid. We had a rule for everything. Kids wanted to be loyal to it but didn't know up from down. Finally admitted I was wrong, wanted them to be themselves and had unconditional love for them. Probably the best meeting I've ever had with a group of young men. I was trusting them to grow up as young men and make the right decisions. From that point on, the Titans took off.... We have adjusted to our personnel and it has worked.
(on hook up with L.A. Regional): "I could be sour grapes about that. Last word I said to Coach Savage last game we played them. `Hope the next time we meet is in Omaha'. But we kind of knew what was coming down the pike. If we're good and have a chance to win the national championship, we're going to have to find a way to get it done. The system's not perfect, it is a shame. We will deal with it. Let's hope we have the hardest regional in the world and the toughest super regional. That's the difference in this team from last year. We will not be afraid. "
(on possibility of drawing Oregon and Coach George Horton): "We had a feeling. Glad it's not, because now we can root for each other. Hopefully we can both move on and meet again in Omaha.
(on emergence of Gary Brown): "It came at a perfect time... his junior year... not surprising to any of us.. still don't think he has reached his potential... a professional team will reap the benefits of that. Most pleased with how much he has matured. Unfortunate for our fans and our team Gary being away from the field the last eight games. Well deserving of the honor (Big West player of the year) and hopefully we get him back and he can make a run at some of the national awards down the line. His next evaluation is Wednesday of next week... we're at the mercy of what the doctors say.
(on team's physical condition): "We are so banged up as a team, guys playing with sore bones and muscles. A lot of people out there like that. We took Monday and Tuesday off. (lefthanded pitcher) Kevin Rath, took yoga classes all semester long... he conducted a yoga session and then we played fungo golf - a 7-hole tourney. It was a blast... we had an unbelievable time. We gave out some awards and some booby award prizes. It kind of loosened them up and have fun together. We're mature enough to realize we can have a good time but when time comes, it's time to get down to business."