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Dave Serrano leaves Cal State Fullerton for Tennessee

Dave Serrano, who guided Cal State Fullerton’s baseball team to the College World Series in 2009, has been hired as the coach at Tennessee, the school announced Wednesday.

Serrano, who reportedly will be paid about $500,000 per season, is one of 11 coaches to lead two programs to the College World Series. UC Irvine, with Serrano as coach, reached Omaha in 2007.

“Dave is a proven winner and is a perfect fit,” Joan Cronan, Tennessee’s interim vice chancellor for athletics, said in a prepared statement. “We are confident that he is the right coach to lead our program to national prominence.”

Serrano is the second baseball coach in five years to be lured away from Fullerton by a big-money university. George Horton left for Oregon after the 2007 season.

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The Titans continued their success under Serrano, reaching a super regional three of the last four seasons. Fullerton was eliminated by Stanford at the regional level this season.

Serrano had a 175-73 record at Fullerton. He was the Big West Conference coach of the year the last two seasons.

“After an overwhelming 24 hours of events, I have made the decision to leave a great program at Cal State Fullerton to take the challenge of returning the University of Tennessee to a spot among the nation’s elite,” Serrano said in a statement released by Tennessee.

Serrano takes over a program that is not nearly as stable as the one he inherited at Fullerton. The Volunteers finished 25-29, losing 14 of their last 17 games. They have had losing records in three of the last four seasons while playing in a conference that includes defending national champion South Carolina, as well as prominent powers Florida and Louisiana State.

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Fullerton officials are expected to fill the Titans’ coaching spot quickly. Among those who have already been mentioned as possible candidates is Dodgers third base coach Tim Wallach, a former Titan.

chris.foster@latimes.com


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