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Colleges: UCI baseball streak halted

May 29, 2012|By Barry Faulkner

For the last six seasons and seven of the previous eight, the Memorial Day holiday buzz has included the satisfaction and anticipation of involvement in the 64-team NCAA tournament for the UC Irvine baseball team.

This year, however, provided no such climax as the Anteaters were forced to beat UC Davis in the regular-season and Big West Conference finale in order to edge the Aggies, who won the three-game series for the first time against UCI, for sole possession of fourth place.

UCI finished 31-25, 13-11 in conference play, losing five three-game series to Big West opponents, the most since posting an equal number in 2003.

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Statistically, the biggest shortcoming was the offense, as the team managed a .274 batting average with 260 runs and eight home runs. Only the 2003 UCI team that hit .253 with 225 runs performed worse in the 11 seasons since the program was revived.

The 2012 numbers reflect the second season of the BBCORE bat standards that have decreased offensive production throughout the NCAA. But they cannot be dismissed.

Four of the top five batting averages were posted by seniors, including Jordan Fox (.322 and a team-best 37 runs batted in) and Christian Ramirez (.324 which lost out to fellow senior D.J. Crumlich for the team batting title by percentage points). Fox and Ramirez finished one-two, respectively, on the team with slugging percentages of .422 and .419. Fox is 5-foot-9 and Ramirez is 5-8. Hardly imposing.

Crumlich, the team's leadoff man and shortstop, led the club with 16 doubles. Crumlich and senior Tommy Reyes shared the team lead with 17 extra-base hits.

In the pitching department, the Anteaters produced sufficiently to generate more success, even though they were decimated by injuries. The team's 3.25 earned-run average was second-best in the school's last 11 seasons.

Kyle Hooper, who was 3-1 with a 1.30 ERA in five starts, missed most of the season with a stress fracture in his right (pitching) elbow.

In addition Matt Whitehouse, who was strong down the stretch in 2011, never got going before injuries shut him down with an 0-2 record in three appearances.

Evan Brock, who looked like a future ace late in the 2010 season, before missing 2011 with a surgically repaired shoulder, started only two games in 18 appearances, which spanned a mere 34 innings. He was 2-1 with a 2.12 ERA, but the 2012 campaign was more about rehabilitation than a resumption of his 2010 prowess.

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