Now entering his sixth season at the helm of the Tennessee Baseball Program, Head Coach Dave Serrano's efforts to revitalize the Volunteers as a nationally elite competitor continue to hold strong. Along with renewing a sense of excitement and optimism among his players, staff and Volunteer Nation, Serrano has brought a winning atmosphere to Rocky Top, having led Tennessee to three consecutive SEC Tournament appearances (2014-16).
Serrano's energy and passion for the University of Tennessee, combined with his impeccable track record of success, made him the choice to become the 24th head coach of the Volunteer baseball program following a nationwide search after the 2010 campaign. A former UT assistant, he was welcomed back to the Big Orange family on June 15, 2011.
Since his arrival, the baseball program has witnessed an improved emphasis on recruitment and development, with the head coach and his staff securing six consecutive Top-20 recruiting classes for Rocky Top since 2012, and now looks to set his team's sights on the postseason and beyond.
The Orange and White's first campaign under Serrano saw it record wins over half of the 2011 College World Series field, downing No. 16 Texas, No. 10 South Carolina, No. 4 Florida and Vanderbilt. The Vols also defeated No. 2 Kentucky, handing the Wildcats their first loss of the season, and No. 19 Georgia to give them victories over five different ranked teams in 2012. The team roared out of the gates, winning their first seven games to get off to the then-second best start in school history. That 7-0 record also marked the best by any UT skipper to start his Tennessee managerial career, topping the previous record of 4-0 last attained over 100 years prior in 1911.
Following his first season at Tennessee, Serrano was awarded the honor of serving as the head coach of the 2012 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, which he led to a 12-5 record and a bronze medal at Honkbal Week in the Netherlands. Serrano then led the Collegiate National Team into uncharted territory as it became the first U.S. squad to travel to Cuba to take on its national team in 16 years. The series continued in the Netherlands where they split two more decisions as the U.S. went 5-2 during Honkbal Week to claim the bronze.
Back on Rocky Top, Serrano's second season featured one of the youngest teams in the nation with a NCAA-leading 18 true freshmen on the roster. The Vols posted a series victory over No. 13 Kentucky and wins over No. 14 Arkansas and perennial power No. 20 Arizona State.
Former Vol, five-time MLB All-Star
In 2014, Serrano again made Tennessee history and led the Vols to their best season start in program history, going 12-0 to start the year. The team stayed the course, jumping into Top 25 rankings for several weeks during the season, to finish with a 31-23 record and make their first SEC Tournament appearance since 2007.
"I'm so proud of this group because I feel they've now set the bar of what is going to be expected in this program each and every year," Serrano said prior to entering the SEC Tournament. "When I got this great opportunity three years ago, it was my expectation to go all the time. I realized there was a process to it and, now that we've gotten a taste of it, it will be the expectation of each and every team that comes here from here on out."
After finishing the regular season just shy of .500 (24-26) in 2015, Serrano led his Volunteers to their second consecutive SEC Tournament appearance, marking the first time for UT to make postseason runs in back-to-back seasons since 2004-05.
In 2015, the Tennessee baseball squad also posted its highest GPA in program history, combining for a 3.12 GPA. Entering the 2016 season under Serrano, the Volunteers also posted a 1.000 APR, another record for the baseball program on Rocky Top.
To end the 2016 season, Tennessee (29-28, 9-22 SEC) clinched a postseason bid to the SEC Baseball Tournament for the third consecutive year. The tournament berth marked the first time for the Vols to appear in the league's postseason tournament in three straight seasons (2014-16) since 1995-97.
A veteran of seven College World Series and one of just 12 coaches to lead two different programs to Omaha, Serrano enters his sixth season at Rocky Top with a career record of 419-277-1 (.601) in 12 seasons as a Division I head coach. After leading UC Irvine to the 2007 CWS in his third year at the helm of the Anteaters, he moved on to Cal State Fullerton where he averaged 43.75 wins per season in his four campaigns with the Titans, including an appearance in Omaha in 2009.
Serrano has returned to the site of his first Division I job, as he served two seasons as an assistant coach at Tennessee from 1995-96, following seven years at Cerritos Junior College. His first taste of Omaha came as a Volunteer as he helped lead a Big Orange squad featuring all-time UT greats Todd Helton and R.A. Dickey to the College World Series for the first time in over four decades in 1995. During Serrano's first stint in Knoxville, Tennessee posted an impressive 97-36 (.729) record, including a school-record 54 wins in 1995.
During his 21 seasons at the Division I level, Serrano has posted an astounding list of accomplishments that includes continuous Top-20 recruiting classes, 19 postseason bids and helping to script two Div. I no-hitters (CSF's Kirk Saarloos in 2001 and UCI's Glenn Swanson in 2006). He has also tutored 183 draft picks, including 11 first-round selections, dating back to the start of his coaching career at Cerritos College in 1988, a total of 37 of which have reached the Major League level.
In his fourth and final season as the head coach at Cal State Fullerton, Serrano earned 2011 Big West Coach of the Year honors for the second season in a row after leading the Titans to their 20th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. He previously claimed Baseball America National Coach of the Year accolades after guiding UC Irvine to the first College World Series appearance in program history in 2007.
In 2010, Serrano represented his country for the first time in his career, as he was named the pitching coach for Bill Kinneberg's USA Baseball Collegiate National Team. He helped coach the team, which included Titan pupils Nick Ramirez and Noe Ramirez, to a V FISU Championship silver medal in Tokyo, Japan. Serrano has coached 20 players that have gone on to star for USA Baseball National Teams, including Helton, Dickey, Augie Ojeda and Detroit Tigers first-round pick Christin Stewart (2014) from Tennessee.
Vols head coach Dave Serrano is one of only 12 coaches in NCAA history to lead two programs to the College World Series:
|Larry Cochell||Cal State LA, Fullerton, Oklahoma|
|Augie Garrido||Fullerton, Texas|
|Mike Gillespie||USC, UC Irvine|
|Andy Lopez||Pepperdine, Florida, Arizona|
|Paul Mainieri||Notre Dame, LSU|
|Pat McMahon||Mississippi State, Florida|
|Tom Petroff||Rider, Northern Colorado|
|Ron Polk||Georgia Southern, Miss. St., Georgia|
|Dave Serrano||UC Irvine, Fullerton|
|Dave Snow||Loyola Marymount, Long Beach State|
|Jack Stallings||Florida St., Georgia Southern|
|Dave Van Horn||Nebraska, Arkansas|
Serrano was hired as the Titans' fourth Division I head coach in 2007, replacing his long-time coach, friend and mentor, George Horton, who resigned to rekindle Oregon's baseball program. In four years with the Titans, Serrano guided his teams to a 175-73 record (.706), Big West Conference Championships in 2008, 2010 and 2011, regional championships in 2008, 2009 and 2010, and a super-regional championship and College World Series appearance in 2009. That, coupled with his 114-66-1 record, two postseason appearances, a trip to Omaha and a National Coach of the Year honor (2007) with Irvine, solidifies Serrano's status as one of the top collegiate head coaches in the country.
Serrano's four Titan teams produced 21 All-Americans, a Big West Conference Pitcher of the Year (Tri), two Big West Players of the Year, a Big West Freshman of the Year three conference freshman pitchers of the year, 14 All-Big West Conference first-teamers (35 all-conference honorees in all) and 31 players selected in the major league draft including a pair of first-round draft picks (Gary Brown and Christian Colon) in 2010. Those numbers increase substantially for Serrano when you add in his Irvine player's accomplishments; 17 major league draft picks, 17 All-Big West Conference honorees, a two-time All-American (Scott Gorgen) and the NCAA's all-time saves leader (Blair Erickson).
In his final season at the helm of the Fullerton program, Serrano defended his Big West Conference Coach of the Year award after steering the Titans to their second straight Big West Conference championship and ninth in the last 13 years. CSF finished with a 41-17 overall record after hosting an NCAA Regional in its 20th consecutive postseason appearance.
Serrano earned his first career Big West Conference Coach of the Year nod in 2010 after piloting the Titans to a dominant 21-3 first-place finish. The year started off at 7-9, but Serrano quickly righted the ship and the team went on to win the last 11 weekend series and ascend to No. 7 in the nation in the national polls heading into the postseason. During the 2010 campaign, the Titans ranked first in the Big West in nearly every major batting and pitching category, finished second in fielding percentage behind UC Irvine and had three pitchers named All-Americans.
In 2009, Serrano made his way back to Omaha for the first time as the head coach of Cal State Fullerton, breezing through the Fullerton Regional (3-0) and Super Regional (2-0). However, the results were 180 degrees from those he achieved the last time he coached there as a Titan in 2004, as the Titans were sent home following losses to Arkansas and Virginia. CSF led the Big West in hitting, pitching and fielding, and at times looked as good as any Titan team in the school's 35-year history. Serrano's club ended up with the nation's best RPI and went into the NCAA postseason nationally seeded.
Serrano's return to Fullerton ended a three-year run as the head coach at UC Irvine (2005-07), a team he managed to Omaha in 2007. Serrano was a relief pitcher for Augie Garrido's Titans in the mid-1980s and was later Horton's assistant coach/recruiting coordinator for eight seasons - helping Fullerton to four College World Series appearances and the school's fourth national championship in 2004.
Following apprenticeships at Cerritos College (1988-1994), the University of Tennessee (1995-96) and Cal State Fullerton (1997-2004), Serrano got his shot as a head coach when he was hired by UC Irvine on July 12, 2005, to replace John Savage. At the helm of an Irvine program that was defunct from 1993-2001, Serrano compiled .633 winning percentage over three seasons and guided the Anteaters to postseason appearances in 2006 and 2007 and their first College World Series in 2007.
The Anteaters led the Big West Conference in nearly every offensive category in 2007 and finished with an overall record of 47-17-1, setting the school record for victories in a season. Serrano's Irvine squad marched through the 2007 Regionals and Super Regionals and finished tied for third in the nation with a 2-2 showing in Omaha, helping to solidify the National Coach of the Year honor presented to him by Baseball America (the same publication that also picked him as the nation's top assistant coach in 2004).
After winning 14 of their last 15 games heading into the College World Series, Serrano's Anteaters found themselves on the grand stage in Omaha along with conference partner Cal State Fullerton, the team they would eventually eliminate. After a loss to Arizona State, the Titans and Anteaters played the first College World Series game between two Big West clubs. The two squads locked horns for 13 innings, taking a CWS record five hours and 40 minutes, with Serrano's Irvine squad coming out on top, 5-4. The Anteaters went on to defeat the Sun Devils in extra innings in their next game before being eliminated by the eventual National Champion Oregon State Beavers.
In his first trip to Omaha as a head coach, Serrano's team played in front of the third and fourth largest crowds in College World Series history, became the first team to ever win back-to-back extra-inning games in Omaha, and set a record with 12 hit batsmen, breaking the mark set by Fullerton in 2003.
In 2006, Serrano led the team to 36 wins, the highest number of wins in 26 years. The Anteater pitching staff posted the nation's 15th-best ERA, and tallied its first Division I no-hitter by Glenn Swanson, who also broke the UCI career strikeout record.
VP of Scouting, Colorado Rockies
In eight seasons as Cal State Fullerton's pitching coach and recruiting coordinator, Serrano established himself as one of the top assistants in the nation. His recruiting efforts played a large part in the Titans' success, as each of his eight recruiting classes was ranked by Baseball America in its annual Top 20 and two of his classes between 2001 and 2004 ranked No. 2. Collegiate Baseball ranked his 2001 efforts the best in the nation.
In 2010, former UC Irvine outfielder Bryan Petersen (Marlins) became Serrano's first player to reach the Major Leagues after playing for the Div. I head coach. As an assistant at Cal State Fullerton, 29 pitchers and catchers were drafted and 14 of his pupils (Brandon Duckworth, Matt Wise, Mike Lamb, Erasmo Ramirez, Adam Johnson, Mike Rouse, Kirk Saarloos, Jordan DeJong, Chad Cordero, Wes Littleton, Ricky Romero, Kurt Suzuki, Jason Windsor and Vinnie Pestano) have reached the big leagues. Serrano also tutored a quartet of Major Leaguers in R.A Dickey, Todd Helton, Mike Lincoln and Augie Ojeda during his two-year run as an assistant at the University of Tennessee from 1995-96, as well as two others, Danny Patterson and Joel Adamson, during his seven seasons as a coach on the Cerritos College staff from 1988-1994.
Cordero, the All-American closer for the Titans from 2001-2003, was a first-round draft pick that reached the Majors just two months after pitching for the Titans in the 2003 College World Series. He went on to become one of Major League Baseball's premier closers and was named a National League All-Star while leading all of the major leagues with 47 saves in 2005.
Of the 25 Titans to earn All-American honors during Serrano's term as an assistant, 15 were pitchers. Benito Flores and eventual first-round draft pick Adam Johnson in 1998 started the current string of 12 straight seasons with at least one Titan All-American pitcher, the best streak by any school in the nation. Serrano produced a Fullerton school record four All-American hurlers in both 2001 and 2003, including Saarloos, who was a finalist for virtually every National Pitcher of the Year award and recorded a no-hitter in 2001. Windsor, Serrano's last All-American pitcher as an assistant at Fullerton, was named the 2004 College World Series Most Valuable Player and was named to the College World Series' Legends Team in 2010.
Though he had already moved on to Irvine by 2005, Serrano recruited and was also part of the early development of now-big league pitcher Ricky Romero, who ended up being the Titans' 10th No. 1 draft pick, an All-American and Big West Conference Pitcher of the Year in 2005.
Before assisting at Fullerton, Serrano spent two seasons (1995-96) serving the same role at Tennessee for former Head Coach Rod Delmonico. There, he helped the Volunteers reach the College World Series for the first time in 44 years in 1995. During his stay in the south, he oversaw the development of two first-round draft picks in Dickey and Helton, the latter blossoming into one of the best hitters in Major League Baseball after serving as a standout hitter and pitcher or the Vols.
Oregon baseball coach
Serrano's first run as a coach at Fullerton was his second as an assistant to Horton. He worked under Horton at Cerritos College for three seasons (1988-90) before Horton moved to Fullerton in 1991 as associate head coach to Garrido. Serrano succeeded Horton as the head coach that year and earned the South Coast Conference's Coach of the Year Award. He reverted back to his assistant coaching post in 1992 and remained there through the 1994 season. In his seven-year tenure, the Falcons won a state championship in 1989, and five conference championships.
Serrano graduated from Cerritos High School in 1982 and played two seasons at Cerritos College. In 1985, he went 12-1 and earned junior college All-American honors while helping the Falcons to a 39-5 record en route to the state championship. Serrano then pitched for Cal State Fullerton in 1986, posting a 3-4 record with one save in 15 appearances.
A two-time speaker at the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) conference, Serrano has participated in and hosted numerous clinics around the nation, working with top Division 1 coaches and rising athletes. His writings were published in 2009-2010 when he authored a chapter ("Building a Pitching Staff") for the American Baseball Coaches Association's book entitled "Practice Perfect Baseball." He was one of 14 head coaches from around the country to provide their insight. Former Fresno State Head Coach Bob Bennett was the book's editor.
Serrano holds a bachelor's degree from Trinity College and University (2003) and was born on June 28, 1964, in Torrance, Calif. He has three sons: Kyle, Zach and Parker.
Future MLB Players Coached by Serrano
More than 170 players who have played for Serrano have been drafted, an average of nearly seven players a year, including seven first-rounders. A total of 37 of those players have gone on to careers in the Major Leagues:
|2013||Zack Godley, RHP||10||288||Cubs|
|2011||Noe Ramirez, RHP||4||142||Red Sox|
|2010||Christian Colon, SS||1||4||Royals|
|2010||Gary Brown, OF||1||24||Giants|
|2009||Khris Davis, OF||7||226||Brewers|
|2009||Dustin Garneau, C||19||571||Rockies|
|2008||David Cooper, 1B||1||17||Blue Jays|
|2008||Erik Komatsu, OF||8||248||Brewers|
|2007||Bryan Peterson, OF||4||136||Marlins|
|2006||Justin Turner, 2B||7||204||Reds|
|2006||Vinnie Pestano, RHP||20||611||Indians|
|2005||Ricky Romero||1||6||Blue Jays|
|2004||Kurt Suzuki, C||2||67||A's|
|2004||Jason Windsor, RHP||3||97||A's|
|2003||Chad Cordero, RHP||1||20||Expos|
|2003||Shane Costa, OF||2||42||Royals|
|2003||Wes Littleton, RHP||4||106||Rangers|
|2002||Jordan De Jong, RHP||18||536||Blue Jays|
|2001||Kirk Saarloos, RHP||3||86||Astros|
|2001||Mike Rouse, SS||5||151||Blue Jays|
|2000||Adam Johnson, RHP||1||2||Twins|
|1999||Reed Johnson, OF||17||523||Blue Jays|
|1998||Aaron Rowand, OF||1s||35||White Sox|
|1998||Erasmo Ramirez, LHP||11||338||Giants|
|1997||Matt Wise, RHP||6||177||Angels|
|1997||Mike Lamb, C||7||227||Rangers|
|1997||Brandon Duckworth, RHP||FA||--||Phillies|
|1996||R.A. Dickey, RHP||1||18||Rangers|
|1996||Mike Lincoln, RHP||13||367||Twins|
|1996||Augie Ojeda, SS||13||381||Orioles|
|1995||Todd Helton, 1B||1||8||Rockies|
|1990||Joel Adamson, LHP||7||185||Phillies|
|1989||Danny Patterson, RHP||47||1199||Rangers|