When asked about the leadership on this year’s UC Irvine baseball squad, which lost five top-notch seniors from last years historic post-season run, Assistant Coach Pat Shine responded with no hesitation, ‘The leadership on this team is among the best I’ve ever seen from a group of players.’
Two names that stick out among that bunch are juniors Ben Orloff and Ollie Linton. Both Orloff and Linton are coming off unexpectedly outstanding seasons. Both hit over .320 at the plate, and Orloff even did so while leading the nation in sacrifice bunts at .52 per game. This season the Anteaters may have the best two top of the line-up players of any team in the nation in Linton and Orloff.
No one saw these two providing the strength at the top of the line-up last season, which allowed the power bats behind them to score them in on a plethora of occasions last year.
However, it should have come as no surprise. As a sophomore, Orloff was tied for 34th in the nation in the ‘toughest to strikeout’ category and he was given the Hustle-Attitude-Mentality Award in 2006, as well.
Both players were exceptional on the defensive side. Orloff gave every pitcher tremendous confidence whenever the ball was hit his way. He was even named the Best Defensive Player on the Anteater squad in 2006.
Linton, on the other hand, flashed his leather in center field under the national spotlight. He made several game-saving grabs against Texas in the regional playoffs, but the most memorable had to be the full-extension diving catch against Wichita State