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Orloff gets top accolade

Anteaters’ baseball leader will be named Brooks Wallace Award winner today as the nation’s top shortstop.

June 12, 2009

When UC Irvine shortstop Ben Orloff was drafted last June in the 19th round by the Colorado Rockies, there were risk-reward factors involved with his decision to return for his senior baseball season with the Anteaters.

That reward list will become significantly more substantial today, when the College Baseball Foundation will announce that Orloff has won the Brooks Wallace Award, given annually to the nation’s top collegiate shortstop.

Orloff, the Big West Conference Player of the Year, hit .358 with 62 runs, 91 hits, 28 runs batted in and 18 stolen bases to help lead the Anteaters (45-15) to their first Big West championship.

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He was named first-team All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Assn. and he was named third-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball.

With a sterling four-year career that included school-career records for hits (280) runs (178) and games played (241), Orloff was the unquestioned leader of a program that ascended to its first No. 1 national ranking this season.

During his tenure, which ended with a run of 215 consecutive starts in which he played every inning of every game, UCI went to the postseason four times, including the program’s first trip to the 2007 College World Series.

UCI was three outs away from a return trip to Omaha in 2008, before LSU rallied to win the best-of-three Super Regional in Baton Rouge.

The last four seasons, UCI was 170-75-1, a .693 winning percentage, and ’Eaters Coach Mike Gillespie, as well as his predecessor, Dave Serrano, have been prolific with praise for Orloff’s baseball savvy, leadership qualities and affable personality.

Orloff led the nation in sacrifices as a freshman (26) and a sophomore, during which time his 112 included 10 extra-base hits (all doubles).

He lashed 17 doubles in 2008 and added 11 this season, while also adding his lone career triple in 2009. He did not hit a home run in 777 career at-bats, but, by the measure of respect, he still managed to carry the biggest stick in the Anteaters’ dugout.

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