May 31, 2011
Fullerton, Calif. - After finishing the regular season with its second consecutive Big West Conference championship, and ninth in the past 13 years, Cal State Fullerton saw Nick Ramirez (Player of the Year), Dave Serrano (Coach of the Year) and Michael Lorenzen (Freshman Player of the Year) take home top honors as the Big West announced its all-conference awards Tuesday afternoon.
Ramirez, a three-time All-Big West First Team selection, has shown dominance on both sides of the baseball in 2011, and goes into this weekend's Fullerton Regional hitting .285 with a league leading nine home runs at the plate while also serving as the Titans' closer. For that, the junior is being watched by the College Baseball Foundation as a possible recipient for the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award and by USA Baseball for the Golden Spikes Award.
At the plate, Ramirez is a huge threat from the left side, pacing the Titans in hits, doubles, home runs, RBI, total bases, slugging percentage and walks.
On the mound, there has been nobody better in the Big West at the end of the game. Ramirez is a perfect 16-for-16 in save opportunities, becoming just the second Titan reliever to ever successfully close out as many games in a season. Last Sunday, the Anaheim native picked up his 34th career save, tying him with former All-American and major leaguer Chad Cordero for the most saves in a Titan career.
Ramirez is 1-0 with a minuscule ERA of just 1.12 in 21 appearances this year. He has struck out 31 batters in 24 innings of work.
Serrano (174-71 at CSF) has guided the Titans to four straight 40-win seasons, three Big West Conference titles, four straight postseason appearances, three consecutive Super Regional appearances and led them to Omaha in 2009.
Serrano has directed the 2011 Titans to a 40-15 overall record and a 19-5 mark in Big West play. It hasn't been easy for the fourth year skipper, as he has had to work around a rash of injuries that has resulted multiple position changes and nearly 40 different line up configurations.
The former Titans relief pitcher, oversees a pitching staff that is leading the Big West in ERA, strikeouts and fewest walks.
This is Serrano's second consecutive coach of the year honor.
The rookie Lorenzen has had a fine freshman campaign, and despite missing nearly three weeks with a wrist injury, has posted the team's highest batting average (.350) while stealing a league-leading 19 bases over 46 games. A fine defender, Lorenzen has not only made the routine plays, but has made numerous sparkling catches and throws from right field, resulting in a move to the captain's chair in center late in the season. On Apr. 10 against UC Irvine, Lorenzen showed it all, legging out a three-run, go-ahead triple, while making two highlight reel defensive catches in front of a national television audience.
In all, seven Titans were recognized with all-conference honors.
Right-handed ace Noe Ramirez joined Nick Ramirez (no relation) as other Titan first team honoree. The junior from East Los Angeles enters the postseason in a tie for the best Big West earned run average at 1.74, ranks second in the conference in both wins (8) and opponents' batting average (.183), and third in strikeouts. On the year, Noe has been a part of two Titan shutouts and compiled a 5.5-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio. He has allowed just 16 earned runs in 82.2 innings overall and just five of those in Big West action.
Pill has been Mr. Steady all season long as one of the nation's better two-way players. The junior out of Covina has gone 6-1 with a 2.08 ERA in 14 starts this season and finished the regular season as the Big West's leader in strikeouts. With the bat, he has hit .324 with a home run and 28 RBI as the team's primary designated hitter. Pill is also on the National Collegiate Baseball Writer's Association watch list for the Dick Howser Award issued to the nations top collegiate baseball player.
Trajano has been one of the Titans' unsung heroes, quietly producing a well rounded game that has seen him play extended periods of time at second base, shortstop and third base. In 41 games the junior from Moreno Valley, Calif., has hit .317 with 23 RBI and 29 runs scored.
Infielder Richy Pedroza and outfielder Ivory Thomas received all-conference honorable mention nods.
Pedroza has had to work around injuries to both shoulders but has maintained his status as one of the league's most pesky hitters. The sophomore from Covina, Calif., has hit .346 on the year, good for second on the team, and is one of the team leaders in runs despite playing in just 41 games.
Thomas led the Big West in on-base percentage, reaching base nearly 50 percent of the time. The outfielder started the season in a platoon role, but later became the Titans' everyday centerfielder, then leftfielder and leadoff man after the series at Hawaii. Overall Thomas has hit .293 with a home run and 16 RBI while sharing the league lead in stolen bases (19) with teammate Lorenzen.
Fullerton continues its 2011 campaign Friday night as it hosts Illinois in Game 2 of the Fullerton Regional at 8 p.m. The game will be nationally televised by ESPNU.