Crumlich’s Short Stop at UCI Ends

 

For the past few years, spectators have grown accustomed to No. 32 digging his spikes into the box while Lil Wayne echoed, “Go DJ, that’s my DJ,” around Anteater Ballpark. A right-handed shortstop, D.J. Crumlich has been indispensable to Manager Mike Gillespie’s lineup for four years.

When Dillon Moyer, son of perennial southpaw Jamie Moyer, arrived at UC Irvine last season, Gillespie tagged him as the future starting shortstop with a body of a professional. But, Gillespie made sure to qualify, Moyer had to wait for Crumlich to graduate.

Crumlich’s spot at shortstop has never been i

Marlin Agoub/New University

n doubt. He was never handed the position, but by no means was there any competition. In four seasons, Crumlich started 201 games, hitting .296 in 732 career at-bats.

A business economics major, Crumlich handled himself with class on and off the diamond. Last Wednesday, Crumlich accepted the award for the Big West’s Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year. While maintaining a 3.28 GPA in 2012, he found time to record a team-high .324 batting average and 72 hits. No. 32 was also named to the Big West Academic All-Conference Team.

When Crumlich arrived at UCI in 2009, Ben Orloff was the team’s shortstop. Orloff, the program’s first Big West Conference Player of the Year in 2009, was Crumlich’s role model. Crumlich picked Orloff’s brain for one season, and it paid off.

“Benny Orloff was the 2009 Scholar-Athlete of the Year,” Crumlich said, as he accepted his hardware three years later. “He was never too busy to give advice, even to a freshman like myself. And he was never too busy to help me with baseball, school or just life in general.”

Crumlich played quarterback at local Irvine High School. He set a school record with four touchdown passes in a 2007 game at Irvine High, and then set the school’s all-time mark with 24 career touchdowns the following year. His leadership on the gridiron translated to Cicerone Field.

Despite losing out on a fourth straight chance at playing in an NCAA Regional in 2012, one of the more memorable moments in the past few years for the ’Eaters was when the team erupted over a 4-3 walk-off victory against UCLA last June 5, sending their season to the Super Regional at Virginia.

While Jordan Fox and other teammates were hopping over the dugout railing to join in on the celebrations, Crumlich had been on the top step of the dugout when catcher Ronnie Shaeffer sent a single down the right field line to knock in the game-winning run. By the time Shaeffer hit first base and was rounding the bag, Crumlich was wrapping his fellow business economics major and teammate up like a linebacker, throwing him to the gravel in celebration. The rest of the team then followed suit and piled on top of Crumlich and Shaeffer in the middle of the basepath.

After coming one out away from advancing to the 2011 College World Series, Crumlich returned to finish his degree and his business on the field this season after turning down a chance to play for the Pittsburgh Pirates, who selected him in the 38th round of the Major League Baseball Draft. This season, he ranked fourth in the Big West in both runs and doubles.

“If you’ve ever attended a UCI baseball game, there’s one phrase that you might have heard from a very loud, very crazy man (Super Fan). […] That quote is, ‘Thank God I’m an Anteater,’” Crumlich said at the 30th annual Salute to Scholar-Athletes banquet on May 30, asserting that coming to UC Irvine was an easy choice – one that he’d never regret.