UC Irvine Press Conference

By NU Athletic Communications
Photo by -

NCAA Lincoln Regional

Thursday, May 29, 2008

UC Irvine Press Conference


Head Coach Mike Gillespie

Opening Statement

“To come to Nebraska specifically, you always wish you could go some place where you know you can win. This is a great venue. I’ve never been with a team to play here before, but I have been here recently. I know the facility to be on the shortest list of the most beautiful ballparks in the country. There’s a real enthusiastic crowd. We don’t assume they’ll all be for us, but it’s going to be a great experience. This is clearly a great college environment. We’re really happy to be here. It’s a real good regional, a real good field of teams. We look forward to being here. We really look forward to winning.”


On UCI’s fall practices led by players

“It really was, for me, astounding. This took place during the first week of October. Irvine is a quarter-system school, so school doesn’t start till about that time. The coaching staff had been told that we would be hired, but as it transpired, it seemed to take forever for the technicalities with the University of California approving everything. As Aaron (Lowenstein) said, the guys organized their practices. It wasn’t just show up and play a little catch, take a few swings. It wasn’t like that at all. It was very, very organized. The stretch, the agilities, the warming up was highly organized. It was real disciplined. There were drills by groups Aaron and the other catchers, Ollie (Linton) was running outfield drills. It was a two-plus hour, well-planned practice. It went on for several days. It was impressive. It really reflected, I think, the great work ethic, the great energy. Over time, I was able to realize that this is a group of guys that has a real unique personality. It’s a group that has more fun together, literally, than any other group I’ve been around.”


On scouting the regional field 

“What I think has evolved over time is that members of conferences kind of band together to help their conference teams. Information is more difficult to come by. Some things are just clear by the numbers. We certainly recognize that Oral Roberts is very offensive. At the top end of their pitching rotation, they are real good with starting pitching. They’re a real deep and talented team. We know less about Eastern Illinois than anybody. We’re trying to find out more. Hopefully, we will find out more. In the case of Nebraska, it’s real clear that they are an experienced team with real frontline pitching. They have a few key returning players, and they come from one of the elite conferences in the country. I think that if you take Nebraska out of the Big 12 and put them in one of the conferences that isn’t quite so marquee, I think we’d see all their offensive numbers jump up considerably. But we will be in their ballpark, and I don’t think there will be too many people wearing blue. We think it’s a really good field of teams.”


On returning to college coaching

“For me, the return to college baseball was natural. I loved what I was doing because my job also included managing the Yankees short-season team in the New York Penn League. When this opportunity came up, it was too good to be true. It was a conference that I knew, teams that I was familiar with, personalities of coaches that I knew. It was kind of things back to normal.”



Outfielder Ollie Linton

On Irvine’s road to the 2007 College World Series

“Last year we had a lot of fun going to Texas and playing in that environment. We got out of there and made it to Wichita and then made it to Omaha. It was a fun experience, and we were all very excited. We just stayed together.”


On comparing the 2007 squad to this year

“We have a few guys back from that team. We lost a few key players. We have a lot of good leaders, like (Aaron) Lowenstein. We stay together, and we know we have what it takes.”


On Head Coach Mike Gillespie

“I knew a little bit about Coach Gillespie. He recruited some of the players who came out of my high school, Crespi, which is in the San Fernando Valley. He also coached with my high school coach, so they had similar styles, similar ways, that I kind of knew about. We played against him when I was a freshman.”



Catcher Aaron Lowenstein

On the personality of the team

“Last year, if you watched, Ollie (Linton) was leading comedic skits before each time we got ready to go. We had a few guys on the team who would keep us on our toes with pranks or jokes. It’s just a good, relaxed feel. We still know what we have to do. We know when to joke around and when to get serious. It’s a balance.”


On expectations going into a regional

“We got that taste last year of going to Omaha. We know now at regionals, we have that same feeling going. In Nebraska, in Texas, it all feels the same. We have that same mindset and that feeling we’re going to win. We definitely feel good about this weekend.”


On the team’s mindset

“We always feel that we need to prove more. We know that every game we have to prove something. We’ve always gone by that we haven’t proven anything yet. We just know that every day we have to come out and get better and improve on something every day. Hopefully we go on to late June and keep proving it to the nation that we’re the real deal.”



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