August 8 - Back in the mid-1990s, Sammy Serrano was making mound visits to Clint Chrysler when the two were battery mates at Stetson University in Florida.
Those roles will now be reversed, as Serrano’s son, Eli, committed yesterday to play at N.C. State, where Chrysler is in his second year as the pitching coach.
“It’s a super small world. My wife and I have known Clint for 25 years,” said Sammy Serrano, whose wife, Cheryl, played basketball while the three were at Stetson. “When this process started, I think for all of us it was something that came full circle. I’m truly grateful that we are lucky enough to pass Eli along not only to Clint, but to a staff that we know and trust after they really endeared themselves during the process.”
As a freshman this spring, Eli Serrano hit .393 and earned second-team All-Cedar Run District honors at Patriot, where his father previously served as both an assistant and the head coach. He had 24 hits and 16 RBI as the Pioneers went 17-5 and advanced to the Region 6D quarterfinals, but didn’t have many opportunities on a deep staff led by Coastal Carolina recruit Riley Eikhoff.
The 6-foot-5, 175-pound left-handed pitcher and first baseman will get more of those opportunities this coming season and beyond, and the Wolfpack staff committed him as a two-way player. He’ll join Eddie Eisert, a rising senior at Bishop O’Connell who committed to N.C. State last fall as both an infielder and pitcher.
Serrano chose the Raleigh, N.C. school over several suitors, including Atlantic Coast Conference rivals.
“I would rather have a chance to play both ways and other schools were mainly looking at me just as a pitcher,” said Serrano, who plays in the offseason with the EvoShield Canes travel program. “I feel I can hit, so I wanted to do both. I just felt they were going to help me out the most to grow as a baseball player and a man down there.”
Added Patriot coach Josh Steinberg: “Coming into high school, I thought his upside was higher as a pitcher. But he made some adjustments early and really made me believe that he had a shot to play at a high level as a hitter as well.”
Serrano played with the Canes in a team showcase event early in the summer at N.C. State, then attended the program’s camp two weeks ago. They offered him a scholarship that weekend, and yesterday morning he made his commitment to head coach Elliott Avent, who has led the Wolfpack to NCAA Tournament appearances in 19 of his 24 seasons and a College World Series appearance in 2013.
“I think it’s a good landing spot for him,” Steinberg said. “Obviously, it’s a top program on the east coast. To see him go to a school that was one that he had identified is awesome to see.”
Photo of Eli Serrano by Joey Kamide