I spoke with UC Irvine coach Dave Serrano last week as the Anteaters were on the bus to Ontario airport, where they were going to fly to Texas for the Round Rock regional. It seemed clear to me that Irvine, the No. 9 team in our latest top 25 rankings, had been given a raw deal by being denied a home regional, slapped with a No. 2 seed and shipped to a regional hosted by Texas, the No. 4 national seed. But I was struck by Serrano’s refusal to gripe–on the contrary, he was upbeat, excited, and above all, confident. He knew how good his team was, just as he knew it back in February when he told me straight up that he had a team capable of winning a regional this year. His team was focused, and it was the best team in the Round Rock regional.
The Anteaters took care of Texas today in the resumption of yesterday’s postponed game. UCI led 6-5 in the seventh inning when play resumed, and they tacked on three more insurance runs before handing the ball off to NCAA all-time saves leader Blair Erickson–who struggled with his command and walked in a run. Friday’s starter, Wes Etheridge, came in with the bases still loaded and one out, and he got the ‘Eaters out of the jam with a strikeout and a ground out.
UC Irvine will advance to a super-regional against the winner of today’s Arizona-Wichita State game. If the Wildcats win, I believe that super-regional should be played in Irvine, but I think it’s very likely the site will be awarded to bigger-name, bigger-budget Arizona. And Dave Serrano’s club will hop on a bus for Ontario, board a plane, and feel upbeat, excited, and above all, confident.