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UCI set for 2009 CWS run

BASEBALL: UCI, three outs away from a return trip to Omaha, could lose just a few from ‘08 roster.

June 12, 2008|By Barry Faulkner

The 2008 UC Irvine baseball team might be remembered for having been three outs away from the program’s second consecutive trip to Omaha. But when the Anteaters and their supporters think to 2009, a case could be made that they are in prime position to make a run toward the 2009 College World Series.

UCI’s season came to an end Monday with a 21-7 thumping from LSU in the deciding game of the best-of-three NCAA Super Regional at the Tigers’ Alex Box Stadium.

The loss finalized the Anteaters’ record at 42-18, as LSU (48-17-1) advanced to Omaha.

It was the second straight 40-win season and the second straight year in which UCI won a regional, after sweeping three wins over Oral Roberts (twice) and Nebraska at the Lincoln Regional at the Cornhuskers’ Haymarket Park.

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UCI finished 14-10 in Big West Conference play, tying for third place with UC Riverside and UC Santa Barbara, two games behind co-champions Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton.

The Anteaters, under first-year coach Mike Gillespie, won six of eight Big West series and four of five remaining three-game series in either nonconference or postseason play.

They won with dominant pitching, a balanced and versatile offense, and an improving defense that was much better after some early position shuffling gave way to more defined roles.

Most importantly, they won primarily with youth.

Other than junior All-American pitcher Scott Gorgen, the Big West Tri-Pitcher of the Year, junior center fielder Ollie Linton, senior catcher Aaron Lowenstein, and possibly junior shortstop Ben Orloff and sophomore starting pitcher Bryce Stowell, UCI might return its most consistent contributors.

Gorgen, 12-3 with a 2.26 earned-run average with 123 strikeouts in 115 2/3 innings this season, was drafted in the fourth round (125th overall) by the St. Louis Cardinals. UCI’s all-time strikeout leader with 327 will almost certainly begin his professional career.

Gorgen spread his name throughout the school single-season and career record book.

He ranks No. 1 in season starts (19 in 2007), is second in career ERA (.2.56) and single-season strikeouts (123 this season) and is tied for second in career wins (32) and season winning percentage (13-3 for .812 in ’07). He is fourth in career starts (52) and career winning percentage (.744).

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