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Bitter loss still sore spot

Colleges

July 06, 2011|By Barry Faulkner, barry.faulkner@latimes.com
(Courtesy of UC Irvine )

Mike Gillespie, 71 years young, has as a mind as nimble as a leaping Ozzie Smith double-play turn at second base. It is, the UC Irvine baseball coach admits, as much a curse as a blessing.

The former comes into play when attempting to scrub a particularly heart-wrenching defeat from his memory. And one such setback — a two-run rally by host Virginia with two outs and none on in the ninth inning of the deciding game of the Super Regional on June 13 that sent the winner to the College World Series — is a mental and emotional scab that still oozes agony.

"I can't speak for anybody else, but I will never get over it. Ever, ever, ever," Gillespie said of the 3-2 loss to the Cavaliers, then the top national seed, which also eliminated the Anteaters in the 2009 Irvine Regional at Anteater Ballpark.

"In 1974 my [College of the Canyons] team was ahead, 15-2, in a game that put the winner in the state championship game. We lost, 21-15, to San Diego City after they had given up on the game and put all their subs in. There was a guy, whose name I will never forget, named Detroit Bugg, who did not even start the game for them. He came in and hit three three-run home runs. So, between 1974 and today, there have been about a half-dozen games, including that LSU deal [leading, 7-4, going into the ninth inning of Game 2 of a 2008 Super Regional in which a victory would have meant a trip to the College World Series, only to see the host Tigers rally to win, then pound the 'Eaters in Game 3 to advance to Omaha] that you just can't forget.

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"So, I will never forget it. Ever. I'll need to go full-on demented to forget it. And that's probably not that far off."

*

Perhaps as disheartening as the dramatic end to the season for members of the UCI program, was a late-season illness endured by Pat Shine, UCI's associate head coach and recruiting coordinator.

Shine, was diagnosed with dermatomyositis, a connective-tissue disease that sidelined him for eight games and limited his role in about a dozen other contests. Gillespie took over for Shine as the team's third base coach the final 23 games.

Shine, who dropped more than 20 pounds due to debilitating chemotherapy treatments, was in the dugout for the entire postseason.

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