College Baseball Preview: UC Irvine vs. UNLV

When/Where: Friday, 2 p.m. at Oregon State University

Key Anteaters: Sr. RHP Andrew Morales (9-2, 1.56); Jr. 1B Connor Spencer (.361, 38 RBIs); Jr. C Jerry McClanahan (.319, 31 RBIs); Jr. RHP Sam Moore (23 saves, 1.90).

Key Rebels: Jr. RHP John Richy (11-3, 2.82); Jr. LF Morgan Stotts (.346, 35 RBIs); Sr. 1B Pat Armstrong (.306, seven HR, 45 RBIs); Jr. 3B T.J. White (.327, 38 RBIs, 17 SB).

Breakdown: The Anteaters (35-22), making their eighth NCAA regional appearance in 11 seasons, but their first since 2011, have lost six straight and eight of their last nine to fall from first to third in the Big West ConferenceUNLV (35-23) is on a two-game losing streak, but has won five of its last seven. The Rebels reached the championship game of the Mountain West Conference Tournament, but fell to San Diego State … UCI has won five of its last six games in regional play, including a 3-0 run to win the 2001 Los Angeles Regional at UCLA … UCI is 13-4 in its previous five regionals, including titles at UCLA, Nebraska (2008) and Texas (2007) … UCI's 2.82 team earned-run average (No. 20 in the NCAA) is tops among UCI's eight NCAA regional entries, while its .272 team batting average ranks last among that group … UNLV is batting .293 as a team with a 3.17 staff ERA … UCI's weekend starters (Morales, Elliot Surrey and Evan Brock) have a combined 2.17 ERA) … Brock and Sr. LHP Jimmy Litchfield are the only Anteaters with previous postseason experience … UNLV, making its 11th trip to the NCAA tournament, last appeared in a regional in 2005. Its last at-large bid was 1989 … NCAA selection committee chairman Dennis Ferrell, the Big West commissioner, acknowledged that UCI was among the last four teams to make the 64-team field … UCI Coach Mike Gillespie is guiding his 20th team into an NCAA regional in his 27 seasons, including his fifth in seven season at UCI. Gillespie is 70-39 in the NCAA Tournament, including winning the 1998 NCAA title at USC. Gillespie was the starting left fielder on USC's 1962 NCAA championship team … Morales was 19-0 at UCI and 40-1 as a collegian, before losing his last two starts of the regular season … Moore, who is one save away from tying the NCAA single-season record, has blown his last three save chances … Gillespie said Moore will get the ball in UCI's next save opportunity … UNLV is without Mountain West Pitcher of the Year Erick Fedde, who was 8-2 with a 1.76 ERA, before undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery … No. 1 national seed Oregon State (42-12) plays North Dakota State (22-24) in the other Corvallis Regional game Friday at 8 p.m. … The regional is a four-team double-elimination tournament, with the winner advancing to the two-team, best-of-three super regional … UCI is 41-35-2 against UNLV, but the Rebels have won the last three meetings.

— Barry Faulkner

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