June 30, 2009

Regional turns profit

The Irvine Regional, the first time UCI played host to NCAA Division I postseason baseball competition, produced a modest profit, said Phil Wong, a UCI associate athletic director in charge of business and finance.

Though UCI payed the minimum hosting fee of $50,000 to the NCAA, a total six-game attendance of just more than 13,000 helped the school exceed its goal of breaking even, Wong said.


“It was not a significant amount, but we made a profit of a few thousand dollars,” said Wong, who noted the surplus was less than $5,000.

Virginia wound up winning the regional, defeating UCI twice in the process, to advance to a Super Regional.

San Diego State — with star pitcher Stephen Strasburg, the eventual No. 1 pick in the Major League draft, providing a marquee draw — was also in the field, as was then-defending national champion Fresno State.

Though financially successful, UCI Coach Mike Gillespie said soon after the regional that he would recommend against playing host to a regional in the future. Gillespie, who guided the Anteaters to the consensus No. 1 ranking the last three weeks of the season and top national ranking in various polls for the final six weeks of the regular season, said West Coast schools often face more difficult competition when they play host to regionals. Gillespie and others believe that geographically based regional assignments often bunch a disproportionate number of strong West Coast teams in regionals held in the western part of the country.

The Irvine Regional, termed by some as “the regional of death,” was widely considered the most competitive of the 16 regionals last season. Virginia was ranked No. 6 and wound up advancing to the College World Series.

UCI, the No. 6 national seed in the 2009 NCAA tournament, won regionals in 2007 (at Texas) and 2008 (at Nebraska). The Anteaters also won a 2007 Super Regional in Wichita, Kan., allowing the ’Eaters to make their first College World Series appearance.

— Barry Faulkner

Ex-Anteater promoted

Former UC Irvine catcher Mark Wagner has been promoted to the Pawtucket (R.I.) Red Sox, the Class AAA affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.

Wagner, 25, hit .301 in 42 games with the Class AA Portland (Maine) Sea Dogs, before joining Pawtucket Sunday. He had three home runs, 18 doubles and 23 runs batted in for the Sea Dogs. He also had a .410 on-base percentage.

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