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NOTEBOOK : Experience Helps Titans' Nevin Feel Relaxed at Plate

May 30, 1992|MIKE DiGIOVANNA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

OMAHA — Cal State Fullerton Coach Augie Garrido said his players were a little edgy, a little nervous before Friday night's College World Series game against Florida State.

But third baseman Phil Nevin seemed plenty relaxed when he hit his grand slam in the sixth inning to lead the Titans to a 7-2 victory.

For this, Nevin credits his past World Series experience, which ended in frustration when the Titans were eliminated in two games back in 1990, his freshman year.

"When players come here and are distracted by outside things, that's when you're not going to be successful," Nevin said. "Your first time here, you can get caught up in all the autographs, the cameras and ESPN, but when I'm at the plate, it's me and the ball and nothing else.

"My last trip here helped, and I told the guys that they should have a fun time here. You're big-leaguers for a week. Kids want your autograph, there are reporters everywhere you go. For most guys, it's their only shot at the big-time, so let's stay here awhile and enjoy it."

Fullerton catcher Jason Moler said Nevin, who Thursday was named Baseball America's College Player of the Year and is a candidate for the No. 1 pick in Monday's professional baseball draft, has set an excellent example for his teammates.

"He's getting a lot of calls from scouts," said Moler, Nevin's roommate on the road. "Phil is handling it well, which is important because other players see him handling it and they can respond to that like you saw tonight."

Add Moler: The senior, who transferred from Illinois last season, didn't play for the Titans in 1990, but he can sense a different attitude on this team.

"I can only go by what my teammates tell me, and they say the 1990 team was just happy to get here," said Moler, who had two hits and an RBI Friday. "This team came here to win it. We're not going to be happy unless we do."

On deck: Fullerton's victory sets up Sunday's showdown against Miami, which is ranked first and the nation, seeded first in the tournament and is led by Coach Ron Fraser, who is retiring after 30 years with the Hurricanes.

But Garrido said that shouldn't change the Titans' approach.

"If we try to play Miami and beat Miami, we'll lose for sure," he said. "But if we go out and play some baseball, we'll have a fair chance to win."

Staff writer Gary Klein contributed to this report.

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