“This is my tenth year here, and there’s no doubt that it’s the toughest with no comparison,” Head Coach Mike Gillespie pointed out citing a regular season schedule that doesn’t let up from the first pitch of February to the final out of May.
The season kicks off on February 17 as the Anteaters welcome in the Big Ten champions in Minnesota for a three-game set. UCI traveled to Minnesota in 2015, and the Gophers return in 2017 after a Big Ten crown and appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
UCI opens up its traveling with inclusion in the second annual Tony Gwynn Classic to be played between the campuses of SDSU and USD. Along with the host Toreros and Aztecs, UCI joins Oregon, Notre Dame, Tennessee, and Seton Hall for a four-game tournament spanning the weekend culminating in a Sunday doubleheader. The bracket and matchups will be set in November.
The ‘Eaters then return home to play four of its next five weekend series in Anteater Ballpark highlighted by College World Series program from 2016 in TCU. The Horned Frogs will be in the discussion to be ranked No. 1 in the preseason polls, and will present a top-caliber program to come to Anteater Ballpark.
The ‘Eaters visit UCLA followed by a return trip to WAC champion Seattle, a team that battled UCI in Anteater Ballpark in 2016, before coming back to Anteater Ballpark for nine straight games with USC and a three-game set against Houston starting it off.
Big West play gets going with the Anteaters playing just one midweek game and one weekend series at home in all of April after 13 March contests, and Big West play opens up as the calendar turns to April with Cal Poly before taking a quick breather to head to Eugene. The Oregon Ducks, with a familiar coaching staff dotted with Head Coach George Horton and former Anteater, now Oregon pitching coach, Jason Dietrich, finish out the non-conference weekend series in early April.
Big West opponents to visit UC Irvine will be Long Beach State in late April, CSUN in early May, and UC Davis to close out the regular season. The ‘Eaters travel to UC Santa Barbara fresh off its first trip to the College World Series coming off the Oregon trek, and finish April once again with a pivotal series at Cal State Fullerton.
The Anteaters make a trip to Hawai’i for a second straight season, and follow that up the next weekend with a jog down to UC Riverside to complete the road portion of the ledger.
All midweek games fall on Tuesdays with San Diego State, USD, LMU, Bakersfield, USC, and UCLA as the opponents. SDSU starts off the midweeks in Anteater Ballpark in February. USC, LMU, and Bakersfield visit in consecutive weeks from late March and into April. USD and UCLA round the season with visits in May.
All midweek and Friday night games are set for 6:30 p.m. starts, and Saturdays are planned for 2:00 p.m. Series will finish up on Sundays with a 1:00 p.m. start time for most with exceptions against Minnesota (11:00 a.m.) and Houston (12:00 p.m.) to accommodate travel.
UC Irvine keeps with its exhibition series against Korean professional squad, NC Dinos, coming in on Wednesday, March 8.