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Orloff's return lauded

College Baseball

Serrano believes former shortstop could be UCI baseball's next head coach.

July 19, 2013|By Barry Faulkner
  • Ben Orloff, a former UC Irvine standout, was the 2009 Big West Conference Player of the Year as a senior, when he also won the Brooks Wallace Award as the nation’s top shortstop.
Ben Orloff, a former UC Irvine standout, was the 2009 Big… (COURTESY OF UCI )

Former UC Irvine baseball coach Dave Serrano said the one move that proved most catalytic in the Anteaters' evolution as a national power occurred when then-freshman walk-on Ben Orloff was inserted into the lineup as the everyday shortstop in 2006.

Serrano, now the coach at Tennessee, believes the recent hiring of Orloff as an assistant coach may once again propel the Anteaters back toward the top.

"They've probably hired their next head coach," Serrano said of Orloff, who could replace Mike Gillespie at the helm as soon as the 2015 season. "I think Coach Gillespie [age 73 and with one year remaining on his contract that will give him seven seasons at the helm] has made, as he usually does, a wise choice to try to resurrect the program and get it back to the top of the Big West again."

Orloff retired 41 games into his fifth season in professional baseball in early June with the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks. He was picked to replace former associate head coach and recruiting coordinator Pat Shine mere days later.

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Orloff said his role has yet to be clearly defined and Gillespie, on vacation, was not available for comment.

But Orloff said he was heading up efforts toward landing the 2014 recruiting class, and that he was, along with Bob Macaluso, a full-time assistant. Daniel Bibona, another former All-American for the Anteaters, remains the volunteer assistant coach working with the pitchers.

"[Orloff] is going to be a good coach and recruiting coordinator," Serrano said. "And I'm sure he'll probably coach one of the bases. I think he'll pick up that stuff immediately. I know he can rise to the challenge. He'll be a savvy, smart individual and will definitely add to what Coach Gillespie has established there over the last few years."

Serrano said the 26-year-old Orloff's youth and inexperience should not limit his ability to make an immediate impact.

"He's mature beyond his years in every aspect," Serrano said. "He carries himself extremely well, he has great knowledge and he's a people person. I don't think anyone that has ever come across Benny doesn't realize he's a stand-up guy. He's going to learn quickly and Benny is the kind of person who will be able to adapt."

Orloff, the 2009 Big West Conference Player of the Year as a senior, when he also won the Brooks Wallace Award as the nation's top shortstop, said it is too soon to talk about him becoming a head coach. But others, including Serrano, obviously disagree.

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