In what has turned out to be a momentous college baseball career, Brian Hernandez has experienced five years, four positions and three schools. But one constant has always been those six steps.
"I try to always take six steps from the on-deck circle to home plate," said the UC Irvine senior third baseman and closer, whose ability to shift about the same distance between third base and the mound this season has made him the Anteaters' most valuable player.
Hernandez leads the Anteaters (35-13, 13-5 in the Big West Conference) in batting (.357) and hits (71), heading into a three-game series at UC Riverside beginning Friday at 6 p.m. He has 28 runs batted in, and is also a stalwart defensively for UCI, ranked No. 16 in two national polls.
On the mound, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound right-hander, who had not pitched since high school, is 3-0 with a team-best 10 saves (which ranks No. 28 in NCAA Division I). He has a 3.00 earned-run average with 19 strikeouts in 24 innings. He has allowed 24 hits and walked 10.