No. 8 UC Irvine Travels to Baton Rouge to Take On No. 5 Tigers

June 3, 2008

CBS College Sports Preview

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UC IRVINE TRAVELS TO LSU: UC Irvine, 41-16 overall went 3-0 in the Lincoln Regional to advance to the super regionals for the second consecutive year. The Anteters will travel to Baton Rouge, LA this weekend (June 7-9) with first pitch Saturday scheduled for 3:00 p.m. (PDT). Sunday's game is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. while Monday's start time is slated for 4:00 p.m. All times listed are Pacific.

`EATERS TAKE ON TIGERS: The Anteaters, ranked No, 8 by Baseball America will face the fifth-ranked LSU Tigers in a best-of-three series for the right to advance to the College World Series.

BATON ROUGE SUPER REGIONAL
Baton Rouge, LA
June 7-9, 2008

Saturday, June 7 - ESPNU
3:00 PM (PDT)
Projected starters
RHP Scott Gorgen (11-3, 2.31) vs. LHP Ryan Verdugo (9-2, 3.81)

Sunday, June 8 - ESPN
1:00 PM (PDT) 
Projected starters
LHP Daniel Bibona (9-3, 3.03) vs TBA

Monday, June 9 (if necessary) - ESPN2
4:00 PM (PDT)
Projected starters
RHP Bryce Stowell (8-2, 2.77) vs. TBA

Pacific times listed

ANTEATERS ON THE AIR: All of UC Irvine Baseball's post-season 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.

UCI UNDEFEATED IN REGIONAL ACTION: The Anteaters improved to 6-0 in regional action since winning the program's first Division I regional game in 2007 against Wake Forest. The Anteaters also climbed to 10-2 in Division I post-season games in the last two years and hold a 10-6 post-season mark overall.

STOWELL NAMED MOST OUTSTANDING PLAYER: Sophomore pitcher Bryce Stowell (La Habra/Pepperdine) was named the Lincoln Regional Tournament Most Outstanding Player after striking out a career-high 13 batters and leading UC Irvine to an 8-0 shutout over Oral Roberts Sunday to seal the regional championship. Stowell did not give up a walk and held a potent Golden Eagle offense to just five hits in a 7.2 inning effort to match a career-high for the right-hander. The shutout was UCI's ninth of the season, matching a Division I program best, set in 2007. Stowell picked up his eighth win (8-2) in the effort and lowered his ERA to 2.77. Stowell has struck out 101 batters in 87.2 innings while giving up 27 earned runs on 77 hits.

ABOUT THE TIGERS: LSU is 46-16-1 and have won 23 straight. The Tigers are 30-8-1 at home and are led by Baton Rouge Regional Most Outstanding Player Blake Dean, who is batting .351 with a team-high 85 hits and 66 RBI. Matt Clark has hit 25 home runs and owns a .770 slugging percentage.

The pitching staff holds a 3.83 ERA and is led by Ryan Verdugo, who is 9-2 with a team-low 3.81 ERA. Jared Bradford is the team leader in wins with 10 (10-4, 4.05). Verdugo is slated to open the series Saturday. Verdugo held Southern Miss to four runs on six hits in five innings to improve to 9-2.

THE SERIES: Saturday's meeting marks the first time the two teams will meet.

THEY HAVE A HISTORY: LSU will not be a new venue for Anteater skipper Mike Gillespie, who took two Trojan teams to Baton Rouge for regional action during his 20-year tenure at USC. In USC's 1998 championship run, the Trojans fell to two-time defending champion LSU in the first game, 12-10, but then rebounded to win the next four games, including back-to-back wins over the Tigers, to reach the final.

GORGEN BATTLES TIGERS: Right-hander Scott Gorgen (Concord/Clayton Valley HS) will take on LSU in the opening game this weekend. Gorgen improved to 11-3 in the win against Oral Roberts last week. The junior allowed a season-high six runs on nine hits while striking out six in five innings. The six runs match a career-high for Gorgen. On the season, he has struck out 115 in 109 innings of work and is holding the opposition to a .175 average.

FINAL CURTAIN CALL: The weekend series pitting the Anteaters versus the Tigers will be an emotional one for the hometown crowd as LSU will play its final series at Alex Box Stadium. The Tigers will have a new home turf next season.

BIBONA EARNS TOURNAMENT HONORS: Pitcher Daniel Bibona (Lake Forest/Santa Margarita HS) also was named to the all-tournament team after holding No. 13 Nebraska to two runs on four hits in a career-high eight innings Saturday. After giving up both runs in the first 2.2 innings, Bibona faced the minimum before handing the ball off to closer Eric Pettis (West Hills/El Camino Real HS) in the top of the ninth. Bibona improved to 9-3 on the season and sports a 3.03 ERA.

MADIGAN POSTS CAREER-HIGH TO CLAIM TOURNAMENT HONORS: Sophomore Sean Madigan (Yorba Linda/Servite HS) was one of three position players from the UC Irvine team to be named All-Tournament. Madigan batted .600 (6 for 10) with a career-high five RBI against Oral Roberts in the championship game. Madigan went 3 for 4 against the Cornhuskers and then put together a 3 for 5 performance against the Golden Eagles Sunday. Madigan climbed to third among the regulars with a .333 average and has 37 hits and 21 RBI for the Anteaters in 47 games.

LINTON, ORLOFF VOTED ALL-TOURNAMENT: Ollie Linton (Winnetka/Crespi HS) and Ben Orloff (Simi Valley HS) also earned all-tournament honors last weekend. Linton hit .333, going 4 for 12 with a double, two RBI and five runs scored. However, Linton's biggest hit of the series was a solo home run, his fourth of the season, that proved to be the difference in UCI's 3-2 win over Nebraska to send the Cornhuskers to the loser's bracket.

Linton sparked the Anteaters, going 2 for 3 with two walks and two runs scored in the club's win against Oral Roberts Friday.

Saturday, Linton was held hitless by Jimmy Dorn until his round-tripper in the fifth and finished 2 for 4. Linton was hitless Sunday but scored twice after reaching on an error and a fielder's choice. Linton also had one of the defensive gems of the series, robbing ORU's Adam Younger of a hit with a diving catch in the left-center gap.

Linton is batting .323 with a team-high 75 hits and 54 runs scored. The all-time scoring leader has 39 steals on the season and has recorded seven doubles and a triple.

Orloff was stellar defensively, earning all-tournament honors for the first time. The junior did not commit an error in regional action. Orloff doubled and scored the game-tying run against Nebraska, going 1 for 4 in the contest and doubled and scored again in UCI's four-run seventh Sunday against Oral Roberts. With 17 doubles on the season, Orloff is one shy of cracking the top 10 of UCI's single-season records.

Orloff is batting .344 and is second with 74 hits and 48 runs scored. He has 19 stolen bases on the season and 21 runs batted in.

PETTIS TIES SINGLE-SEASON RECORD: Eric Pettis (West Hills/El Camino Real HS) earned two saves, tying UCI's single-season record of 17, set by All-American Blair Erickson in 2007. Pettis preserved a two-run UCI lead Friday, striking out four in 1.2 innings while giving up a double and walking two in the ninth. The right-hander then came entered the game Saturday, pitching a perfect ninth inning against the Cornhuskers to earn his 17th save. Pettis is 4-2 with a 1.65 ERA. He has struck out 50 in 43.2 innings while allowing eight earned runs.

STEVENSON HITS .778 FOR BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE: Infielder Casey Stevenson (Saugus/College of the Canyons) hit .778 in three games to lead UCI to a 3-0 record in action. The infielder was 7 for 9, including a double and three RBI. Friday, Stevenson came off the bench and singled in a run in the UCI eighth to give the team an insurance run. Stevenson then singled and scored the team's first run against Nebraska Saturday, finishing the day 3 for 4. Sunday, batting cleanup, Stevenson drove in the Anteaters' first run with a sacrifice fly and went 3 for 4 with three runs scored and two RBI. Stevenson sported a .700 on-base percentage in regional action and was retired just twice in three games.

CUSICK CONTINUES HOT HITTING: Jeff Cusick (Mission Viejo/Santa Margarita HS) also had a solid regional series, batting .455 in three games. Cusick was 5 for 11 with a double an RBI and three runs scored. The sophomore walked and scored, going 2 for 4 Friday and drove in the game-tying run Saturday against Nebraska. Sunday, Cusick was 2 for 4 with two walks, including an intentional free pass. Cusick tops the team with a .347 average and has 51 hits and 12 doubles on the year. Cusick is second with two triples and fourth on the team with 26 RBI.

BERGMAN HAVING STANDOUT SEASON: Christian Bergman (Altadena/St. Francis HS) and Pettis have provided a solid 1-2 combo out of the bullpen this season. Second in appearances with 22, Bergman is 5-2 with a 1.47 ERA. He has registered 34 strikeouts in 55 innings while surrendering nine earned runs on 52 hits. With UCI leading by two, Bergman was summoned out of the bullpen Friday against Oral Roberts with a runner on second with no outs. Following a sacrifice bunt, Bergman induced a groundout to first and struck out the final batter to get the Anteaters out of the jam. Bergman entered in relief again Sunday, retiring the side in order in the ninth.

DERAGISCH FINDING A GROOVE: Third baseman Eric Deragisch (Granite Bay/Sierra College) has been swinging the stick at a .345 clip in the last 10 games and has hit in five straight. Over the weekend, Deragisch hit .400 (4 for 10) with two double and an RBI. Deragisch was 3 for 4 with a walk Friday and added a double Saturday. Sunday, the junior sparked UCI's four-run rally with a leadoff single. On the season, Deragisch is batting .297 with 41 hits and 17 runs scored. He has four doubles, a triple and 14 RBI for the `Eaters.

WEEKLY WRAPUP: UC Irvine went 3-0 to claim the Lincoln Regional title last weekend. The Anteaters sandwiched a tense 3-2 win against host Nebraska with victories against Oral Roberts, including an 8-0 shutout against the Golden Eagles in the championship game.

Friday, UCI had to hold off Oral Roberts in a close 9-7 decision. The Anteaters scored six in the first inning with Dillon Bell's (Bakersfield/HS) two-run hit highlighting the frame. UCI led comfortably 8-2 after three innings, only to watch the Golden Eagles storm back with five runs in three innings. The solid combination of Christian Bergman, Tom Calahan (Mission Viejo/Santa Ana CC) and Eric Pettis closed the door on ORU, as the trio combined for four innings of one-run baseball. Tony Asaro (Torrance/Pepperdine) went 3 for 5 to pace the team while Ollie Linton, Jeff Cusick and Eric Deragisch combined for six hits. Scott Gorgen picked up the win to improve to 11-3.

Daniel Bibona made his first postseason start Saturday and worked out of a first-inning jam against Nebraska before giving up a two-run home run in the Nebraska third. Bibona settled down and faced the minimum through the next five innings before handing the ball off to Eric Pettis in the ninth as UCI defeated the Cornhuskers 3-2. Ollie Linton proved to be the difference with a solo home run in the fifth that gave the `Eaters the eventual game-winning run.

Sunday, the Anteaters rode the arm of Bryce Stowell, who put together his best outing of the year with a career-high 13 strikeouts in 7.2 innings. UCI staked Stowell to a two-run lead before closing the door with four runs in the seventh. including a career-high five RBI on three hits from Sean Madigan. Casey Stevenson added three hits while Jeff Cusick totaled two