Mike Gillespie, who led UC Irvine to a surprising run to the College World Series, has signed a four-year contract extension as UC Irvine's baseball coach, keeping the 74-year-old in charge of the Anteaters through the 2018 campaign, the school officially announced on Wednesday.
Gillespie, the National Coach of the Year by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Assn., completed his seventh season with the Anteaters. He guided UCI to a 41-25 overall record and 1-2 mark in the College World Series, where it placed fifth. To advance to the College World Series for the second time, the Anteaters upset top-seeded Oregon State in regional play and then swept Big 12 champion Oklahoma State at the Stillwater Super Regional.
"I am thrilled that Mike Gillespie will continue to lead the UC Irvine baseball program for the next four years," UCI Athletic Director Mike Izzi said in a press release. "He continually brings in student athletes who not only perform at a high level on the field, but who also successfully manage the rigorous academic demands of UCI.
Izzi added: "He is the quintessential baseball coach and UC Irvine baseball will continue to be a premier program with Mike at the helm."
Gillespie, a Hall of Fame coach who completed his 43rd season coaching college baseball, saw four UCI standouts — pitcher Andrew Morales (St. Louis Cardinals), third baseman Taylor Sparks (Cincinnati Reds), first baseman Connor Spencer (New York Yankees) and shortstop Chris Rabago (Colorado Rockies) — drafted after the season and sign with major league organizations.
"I am flattered and gratified to have been offered the opportunity to continue to be affiliated with UC Irvine," said Gillespie, whose Anteaters have won 40 or more games four times and finished in the top three in the Big West five times. "UCI is a special university located in a spectacular environment, and athletics has been supported by exceptional leadership all the way to the level of the chancellors, as well as our athletic administration. The performance of UCI's athletic teams, both men and women, has been exceptional and there are excellent coaches in literally every program.
"Baseball has flourished over the 13-year period since it was brought back in 2002, having been to nine NCAA playoffs in that time, and has established itself among the nation's most highly respected programs. I look forward to our continued growth and trust that we will consistently compete among the Big West Conference's most elite teams, teams that distinguish themselves on the level of the nation's best."
— From staff reports