#39 UC Irvine Baseball Preview

UC Irvine Anteaters

Overall Rank: #39
Conference Rank: #2 Big West
UC Irvine College Baseball Top 44 Team Preview
UC Irvine Team Page


The Anteaters are a unique team. Boasting a dominate and veteran pitching staff is something that only a handful of teams can claim at any level in baseball, especially college, but UC Irvine is one of them. This stockpile of arms is what is going to propel the Anteaters to the success that they want to achieve and will keep them in every game that they play.

2012: 32-25, 13-11
2012 Postseason: None
Coach: Mike Gillespie

Field Players:
The lineup is led by sophomore Connor Spencer. The young infielder showed tremendous promise last year as a freshman. He batted .306, knocked in 30 runs, and had an on base percentage of .388. This season Spencer is looking to build on his freshman campaign and the Anteaters will need him to be the catalyst in this lineup. Fellow sophomore, Taylor Sparks will also help carry the grunt of the offensive load. As a freshman he only hit .202 but managed to drive in 12 runs while leading the team in homeruns. He has a big frame and has tremendous power potential. He should see an expanded role this season and it would not be a surprise if he turned out to be the best power hitter on the team. Senior Jeff Stephens is a great utility player who will bring veteran support to the lineup. He does a great job of working pitchers and getting on base. He will also be needed to help drive in and score runs.

The pitching staff is the true strength of this team. The ace of this staff is the veteran righty Andrew Thurman. The junior is poised to have another dominating season. Last year he baffled batters to the tune of eight wins, a dominate .195 batting average against, an impressive 2.66 ERA, and even tossed four complete games, three of which were shutouts. Thurman has proven he can not only dominate hitters but also eat innings for the Anteaters. Every time he toes the rubber they have a chance to win the game, making them a dangerous tournament team. Furthermore, this team brings back senior closer Race Parmenter. As a junior he shut the door eight times and had a .228 ERA. He also showed dominate stuff by striking out 28 batters in 27.2 innings of relief.

Who to Watch:
Junior pitcher Matt Whitehouse may be a key to this team. In 2012 the described crafty lefthander redshirted, but had a fantastic 2011 season. That year Whitehouse was perfect, claiming a flawless 4-0 record in 12 starts and 23 appearances. He hurled 72.1 innings and struck out 63 batters while issuing just 15 walks. That type of control and dominance on the mound gives the Anteaters two aces.
Final Projection:
This team has some question marks offensively, but their pitching staff is outstanding. They are returning many talented pitchers so this team is not to be taken lightly. They have talented starters, relievers, and a dominate closer, giving them a full pitching staff. This provides them the ability to beat any team on any day because they are very difficult to score on. They also have had some great freshman seasons out of their recruits lately, so do not count this team out. They are poised to be dangerous.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Conner Spencer, IF, 170
Hits: Conner Spencer, IF, 52
Home Runs: Taylor Sparks, IF, 3
RBIs: Conner Spencer, IF, 30
Runs: Jeff Stephens, OF, 22
Stolen Bases: Jeff Stephens, OF, 2; Taylor Sparks, IF, 2; Scott Gottschling, OF, 2

Wins: Andrew Thurman, RHP, 8
Innings: Andrew Thurman, RHP, 98
Strikeouts: Andrew Thurman, RHP,69
Saves: Race Parmenter, RHP, 8


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