UC Irvine has been ranked 26th in Collegiate Baseball’s Fabulous 40 preseason poll. It is the Anteaters’ highest preseason ranking since reinstating the program in 2002, which comes as no surprise considering their miraculous College World Series run a year ago.
UCI was selected 38th in the preseason by Baseball America in 2007 and 36th and 40th by Collegiate Baseball and Baseball America, respectively, in 2005.
Among the Anteaters returning from last year’s squad are pitcher Scott Gorgen and outfielder Ollie Linton, both of whom were named preseason All-Americans and were included in the Brooks Wallace Award Watch List earlier this month.
Gorgen, who has accumulated six post-season All-America honors in two seasons, returns to anchor the rotation for a squad that posted 47 wins in 2007, the program’s best finish in Division I history. Gorgen has most recently been named to the Louisville Slugger Preseason All-American first team by Collegiate Baseball.
Linton, an all-conference second-team choice, is the club’s top returning hitter after batting .342, second among starters in 2007. The centerfielder was also second with eight triples and tallied 52 hits and 21 RBI. Anteater fans fondly remember Linton driving in the game-winning run against Arizona State at the College World Series in an extra-inning, elimination game. Linton also won all-tournament honors after making a pair of game-changing defensive plays that propelled UCI to three straight wins during regional action in Texas.
The Anteaters will embark upon their first season under the leadership of Mike Gillespie, who became the Anteaters’ eighth head coach in October. Gillespie is highly regarded in the world of college baseball as a prestigious head coach. He was named the 1998 National Coach of the Year and he was a four-time conference Coach of the Year at the University of Southern California.