With 24 seasons of Division I coaching and 38 seasons as a college head coach, Mike Gillespie has more experience than just about anyone in college baseball.
But all his years and all his wisdom couldn't save the 71-year-old UC Irvine skipper from mucking up the first important play of an NCAA Super Regional at Virginia's Davenport Field on Saturday.
Gillespie, coaching third base, said his misread of a slow roller off the bat of Drew Hillman with one out and runners on second and third in the first inning, helped provide some early momentum for the Cavaliers, who went on to a 6-0 triumph in front of a capacity crowd of 5,050.
"It was my fault," Gillespie, reached by telephone after the game, said of the play, on which Virginia recorded an inning-ending 5-3-4-2 double play to eliminate the last Anteater to reach third base. "We gave a sign that had the runners running on a ground ball. D.J. [Crumlich, who was hit by a pitch to lead off the game, advanced to second on a walk to Sean Madigan and moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Brian Hernandez] was all set to go, but I read [Hillman's tapper just top the left of the mound] as a comebacker and I gave the code word for [Crumlich] to stop. It was a breakdown on my part and it was a huge play in the game."