May 26, 2008

UC Irvine Travels to Lincoln Regional; Takes On Oral Roberts

May 26, 2008

UC IRVINE TRAVELS TO LINCOLN REGIONAL: UC Irvine, 38-16 overall (14-10 Big West) makes its third consecutive NCAA regional appearance and fourth overall since 2002 when the Anteaters travel to the Lincoln Regional this weekend (May 30 - June 2). UCI joins host Nebraska, Oral Roberts and Eastern Illinois to complete the four-team bracket.

`EATERS TAKE ON ORU: The Anteaters will take on Oral Roberts in the second game at 5:05 p.m. (PDT) while No. 1 Nebraska faces fourth-seeded Eastern Illinois at 11:05 a.m. (PDT).

Lincoln, Neb.
May 30 - June 2

Friday, May 30
No. 1 Nebraska (40-14-1) vs. No. 4 Eastern Illinois (27-28) - 11:05 a.m.
No. 2 UC Irvine (38-16) vs. No. 3 Oral Roberts (46-12) - 5:05 p.m.

Saturday, May 31
Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 - 11:05 a.m.
Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 - 5:05 p.m.

Sunday, June 1
Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4 - 11:05 a.m.
Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5 - 4:05 p.m.

Monday, June 2 Game 7 if necessary - 11:05 a.m.

ANTEATERS ON THE AIR: All of UC Irvine Baseball's postseason games will be aired live on KUCI 88.9 FM and the Internet. Click on the Listen Live link on the regional page to access the webcast. Veteran announcer Mark Roberts will be behind the play by play.

TOURNAMENT FIELD: Nebraska, 40-14-1 overall (17-9-1 Big 12), are making their ninth NCAA Tournament appearance in the last 10 years. The Cornhuskers are 28-3-1 on their home field and are led by Jake Opitz, who is batting .335 in 55 games. Opitz holds the team-high with 72 hits and is tied for the lead with 15 doubles. Nebraska is batting .278.

Oral Roberts boasts a 46-12 record (24-4 Summit) and is led by Brian Van Kirk, who is batting .421 with a team-high 93 hits. Van Kirk also tops the squad with 72 RBI, 22 doubles and 17 home runs. The senior has coaxed a team-high 41 walks and is slugging .751 on the year.

Eastern Illinois is 27-28 overall (13-13 Ohio Valley) and is making its second NCAA regional appearance. The team is led by Brett Nommensen, who is batting .397 with 77 hits, 17 doubles, four triples and 18 stolen bases. Jordan Kreke tops the team's RBI leader with 44.

THE SERIES: UC Irvine is 5-4 against Oral Roberts. The Anteaters swept the Golden Eagles in a three-game series at Anteater Ballpark in 2006.

UCI and Nebraska met once in 1980, as the Anteaters fell to the Cornhuskers, 5-3, in the Las Vegas Desert Classic.

UCI has also faced Eastern Illinois once, defeating the Panthers, 6-2, in the 1973 Division II College World Series.

UCI POSTS SIXTH 30-WIN SEASON: UC Irvine posted its sixth 30-win season, finishing the regular season with a 38-16 overall record. The 38 wins rank second in the school's Division I history, bested only by the 2007 team that was 40-15-1 following the conclusion of the regular season.

`EATERS FINISH THIRD IN BIG WEST: UC Irvine won two of three games this past weekend to go from fifth in the Big West to a three-way tie for third in the league standings with UC Santa Barbara and UC Riverside.

HEAD COACH Mike Gillespie GETS WIN No. 800: Head Coach Mike Gillespie, in his first year as at the helm of the Anteater program, won his 800th Division I win Saturday against UC Santa Barbara. The veteran coach, in his 21st season, currently holds an 801-487-2.

ORLOFF HITS .700 AGAINST GAUCHOS: Ben Orloff (Simi Valley/HS) went 7 for 10 in the series against UC Santa Barbara this weekend. Orloff had a double, an RBI and five runs scored to help UC Irvine win its fifth consecutive series and elevate from fifth place in the Big West to a three-way tie for third. Orloff also posted an .800 slugging percentage and a .750 on-base percentage in the series. The junior shortstop went 2 for 4 with a run scored Friday and went 4 for 4 with three runs scored, a walk, a stolen base and an RBI Saturday as UCI evened the series. Orloff also belted his team-high 15th double. Sunday Orloff singled and scored an insurance run in the team's 2-0 win.

Orloff leads the team with a .356 average. The junior shortstop holds the team high in hits with 72, doubles and sacrifice hits with 15, and is second in runs scored with 45 and 18 stolen bases.

ASARO RECORDS CAREER-HIGH FOUR HITS: Junior Tony Asaro (Torrance/Pepperdine) recorded a career-high four hits in the Saturday win against UC Santa Barbara and matched a personal-best with four RBI. Asaro doubled in the game-tying run and delivered again with a two-run hit to give UCI the lead. Asaro doubled and scored what would be the eventual game-winning run in the UCI fifth.

On the season, Asaro is batting .310 with 27 hits, including eight doubles, a triple and four home runs. Asaro has driven in 18 on the year.

BIBONA BLANKS GAUCHOS: Daniel Bibona (Lake Forest/Santa Margarita HS) pitched 6.1 shutout innings to lead UC Irvine to its eighth shutout of the season. Bibona walked just one batter and scattered four hits before giving way to the Anteater bullpen.

On the season, the sophomore standout is 8-3 with a 3.10 ERA. The southpaw has struck out 82 batters in 87 innings while walking just 18. He has allowed 30 earned runs on 84 hits.

BERGMAN, PETTIS BOLSTER BULLPEN: Sophomores Christian Bergman (Altadena/St. Francis HS) and Eric Pettis (West Hills/El Camino Real HS) have been a solid combination out the Anteater bullpen.

Bergman has surrendered just one run in his last seven appearances and holds a 1.38 ERA. The right-hander has struck out 31 in 52 innings while allowing eight earned runs in 20 appearances, including seven starts.

Pettis, tied for first in the Big West 15 saves, tops the conference with 28 appearances. He is second on the team with a 1.76 ERA and has struck out 46 in 41 innings while also allowing just eight earned runs.

ANTEATER ARMS SECOND-BEST IN NATION: The UCI pitching staff boasts a 2.87 team ERA to sit second in the nation.

CUSICK OFF DL, BRINGS BAT TO WORK: Sophomore Jeff Cusick (Mission Viejo/Santa Margarita HS), who had missed nearly two weeks of action due to a sore shoulder, was inserted into the lineup against UC Santa Barbara and went 2 for 2 off the bench. Saturday, Cusick worked a pair of walks and scored three times while adding a single. Sunday, the infielder went 2 for 3 with a sacrifice to finish with a .625 average in the series. On the season Cusick is batting .338 with 46 hits and 24 runs scored. He is third on the team with 11 doubles and is tied for second with a pair of triples.

WEEKLY WRAPUP: UC Irvine went 2-1 this past weekend to conclude the regular season with a series win against UC Santa Barbara.

UCI was held to just two runs Friday and Scott Gorgen (Concord/Clayton Valley HS) suffered his third loss of the season following a 6-2 defeat. The Gauchos were held scoreless by Gorgen through six innings but broke through in the seventh, tying the game on a RBI single. A two-run home run gave UCSB the lead for good. Dillon Bell's (Bakersfield/HS) solo home run in the third gave UCI a 1-0 lead and the Anteaters added a run in the ninth.

Saturday, the UCI offense came up with 14 runs as UCI posted a 14-7 win to even the series. The team was led by Tony Asaro, who matched a career-high four RBI with a personal-high four hits. Ben Orloff went 4 for 4 for the second time this season while Francis Larson (Yorba Linda/Esperanza HS) drove in three runs on two hits and a sacrifice fly. Dillon Bell drove in two runs while going 1 for 3 with a run scored. Anteater pitcher Bryce Stowell (La Habra/Pepperdine) improved to 7-2 after striking out six in 5.2 innings while allowing six runs (three earned) on seven hits. Christian Bergman, Chris Lopez (West Hills/Louisville) and Tom Calahan (Mission Viejo/Santa Ana CC) combined for 2.1 shutout innings and Noel Avison (Bakersfield/San Diego Mesa CC) closed out the game in the and Noel Avison closed out the game in the ninth, surrendering a run on two hits.

Sunday, four Anteater pitchers combined for the team's eighth shutout of the season with starter Daniel Bibona earning the win (8-3) after hurling 6.1 innings of six-hit baseball. Bibona struck out four and walked just one in the effort. Christian Bergman gave up a lone hit in the seventh before handing the ball off to senior Tom Calahan, who yielded a hit and struck out one in the eighth. Eric Pettis struck out three in 1.2 scoreless inning to earn his 15th save of the season. Catcher Aaron Lowenstein's (Calabasas/HS) sacrifice bunt scored Josh Tavelli (Oroville/Butte CC) for the eventual game-winning run.