By Andrew Glover
Stillwater News Press
STILLWATER, Okla. —
The UC Irvine Anteaters pulled the unthinkable last weekend in regionals — defeating the overall No. 1 seed Oregon State Beavers to win the Corvallis Regional. Once again in a road environment the Anteaters hope to do the same against the No. 3 Oklahoma State Cowboys.
“Oregon State was a pretty hostile environment. It would get pretty loud, so I don't think we'll be hit with any surprises here,” said Elliott Surrey, who will take the mound Friday. “It'll most likely be the same type of environment. We're also just getting to know the yard, that's pretty key, just getting to know everything, knowing the surroundings and knowing what to expect.”
Coach Mike Gillespie said his starting pitchers Surrey and Andrew Morales — who will start Game 2 on Saturday — have been key to the team’s run to reach the Super Regional.
“We think the formula is pretty simply stated and it never really changes. We're not really deep on the mound,” Gillespie said. “We do have five or six quality guys. It's first about pitching. It starts with Elliot (Surrey). He has to be him. He doesn't have to be a better him. We can't give away extra outs. Then, we have to scratch and claw, barrel up some balls and find a way to get a run. We often say when we go into a game that we've got to find a way to win, 1-0. Hopefully it's 9-0, but we've got to pitch and play defense well enough that we can get one run and make it work.”
Gillespie, is coaching his seventh season at UC Irvine and 26th overall. From 1987 to 2006, he led Southern Cal to five College World Series, including a national championship in 1998. Catcher Jerry McClanahan said everyone has a deep trust in him.
“From a hitting standpoint, we know what the style of play, they call it small ball, but for us it's just baseball,” McClanahan said. “We're doing whatever we can to win, so we're buying in to whatever and giving in 100 percent and it's working out for us.”
On Friday night, Surrey will have the challenge of going against a Cowboys’ lineup that hit .355 during regionals, which was best in the NCAA. The starting pitcher said he’s focused on the task.
“I think you just have to go one pitcher, one batter a time. Not try to think about the four-hole hitter when you're trying to pitch to the nine-hole hitter,” Surrey said. “Just worrying about that one guy who is coming up to the plate and being keyed in one that one pitch.”
McClanahan said Surrey and Morales have different but effective styles as pitchers.
“They're pretty opposite. You have Mo who is kind of a power arm, power slider and offspeed guy,” McClanahan said. “Then you have Surrey, who is a crafty lefty. So, it's a good one-two punch. You have Mo who is all everything right now, 90-92 mph with his slider and stuff. Then you have Elliot with his changeup, it's a good one-two punch because they keep you on your toes, but in different ways.”
The Anteaters will try for their first College World Series berth since 2007.