#18 UC Irvine Baseball 2015 Preview

UC Irvine Anteaters

Overall Rank: #18
Conference Rank: #1 Big West
#18 UC Irvine Baseball 2015 Preview
UC Irvine Team Page


The road heading into the 2014 postseason was a rocky one for UC Irvine as they finished the regular season in their final nine games with a 1-8 record. However, the beauty of college baseball and the NCAA Tournament is you get to start over at 0-0 and the Anteaters took full advantage of that. UC Irvine shocked the number one overall seed Oregon State in the Corvallis Regional and then held off of a great Oklahoma State team in the Stillwater Super Regional to get back to the College World Series.

2014: 41-25, 15-9
2014 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Mike Gillespie

Field Players:
Execution, as always, will be critical for the Anteaters as they are not a team that will play long ball to beat you. They only hit 12 homeruns as a team last season. Catcher Jerry McClanahan hit .304 and can do a little of everything. He can get the big extra base hit and lay down a sacrifice bunt, as he did ten times last season. Outfielder/Infielder Kris Paulino is going to be the main power threat for UC Irvine and, despite hitting just .216, he did hit five homeruns and drive in 25.

One guarantee when you play the Anteaters is that more than likely you will have a fierce battle against their pitching staff to score runs. There will be some reloading to do in the starting rotation, but with the way UC Irvine develops pitchers, they should not miss a beat. Elliott Surrey will be the ace of the rotation in 2015 that should get the call on Friday nights. Surrey was 8-5 with a 2.32 earned run average and has done a pretty good job of going after hitters by only allowing 29 walks in 112.2 innings. Sam Moore will anchor things at the closer position and Moore was lights out in 2014 for the most part with 23 saves.

Who to Watch:
Infielder Jonathan Munoz is the player to watch. He was a first team All-Big West Conference honoree who hit .281 and drove in 19 runs, while making 42 starts in 57 games played. If Munoz can start all season long, that will only help make the UC Irvine offensive attack become that much deeper in 2015.

Final Projection:
As usual, the Anteaters will play a challenging schedule all season long starting with an opening weekend series at Fresno State. A four game series at California is on tap for the second weekend of the season and then former UC Irvine head coach Dave Serrano brings Tennessee to Irvine for a three game set. In early May a trip to Minneapolis looms to play the Minnesota Golden Gophers out of the Big Ten Conference. The mid-week slate has a mix of games against area rivals such as San Diego State, UCLA and USC, which should be some nail biting baseball. In conference play the biggest series that the Anteaters will have to deal with includes road series at Cal State Fullerton and UC Santa Barbara. The key for the Anteaters in those two series will be to find a way to go 3-3 or better as their home schedule in Big West is a bit more favorable. If UC Irvine can find a way to generate just a little bit more power to compliment the small ball style that they play, it will buy them time to reload the pitching staff. This could take a little bit of time before the Anteaters to click on all cylinders. But, if they can get rolling by Big West play, they should be right there in the race for the Big West Championship.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Grant Palmer, IF, 228
Hits: Jerry McClanahan, C, 63
Home Runs: Kris Paulino, OF/IF, 5
RBIs: Jerry McClanahan, C, 36
Runs: Kris Paulino, OF/IF, 34
Stolen Bases: Three tied with 3

Wins: Elliott Surrey, P, 8
Innings Pitched: Elliott Surrey, P, 112.2
Strikeouts: Elliott Surrey, P, 76
Saves: Sam Moore, P, 23


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