Fullerton's Ramirez shows his age in opener

June, 13, 2009
OMAHA, Neb. -- Noe Ramirez wasn't wearing one of those good-karma mustaches that took the Cal State Fullerton baseball team through such a dominating spring. Sitting at a postgame table late Saturday afternoon, Ramirez looked very much his age, baby-faced and 19.

His youth showed on the mound against Arkansas in the first game of the College World Series.

Ramirez, who'd been stellar in his freshman season, was rocked for seven runs in 3 2/3 innings in the opening game against the Razorbacks. It was the most runs the right-hander had allowed all season.

"Noe's performance, I think he would agree with me, was a D-minus today," Titans coach Dave Serrano said. "I'm sure he was a little nervous, just like most guys are the first time they come to Omaha."

It was obvious early on Saturday that the first freshman pitcher to start for Fullerton at the CWS was not himself. Ramirez had given up just two runs in each of his two NCAA tournament starts. He gave up that many runs in the first inning against Arkansas.

It was clear the Titans, who grew mustaches as a symbol of team unity, were also not themselves. Before Saturday, they had allowed just 11 runs in five NCAA tournament games.

"Coming into this game, I'd say I was a little more excited than nervous," Ramirez said. "I guess you could say a little too excited."

Elizabeth Merrill is a senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine. She previously wrote for The Kansas City Star and The Omaha World-Herald.



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