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UC Irvine baseball: Anteaters to get ace Daniel Bibona back for regional

May 31, 2010 | 12:08 pm

The most intense moment for the UC Irvine baseball team Monday wasn’t when the NCAA pairings were announced. It was when senior pitcher Daniel Bibona went up to the bullpen and threw.

“He pushed himself a little bit,” Anteaters Coach Mike Gillespie said. “We’ll see how he responds.”

The Anteaters, ranked 21st by BaseballAmerica, knew they were in the tournament, and will play No. 23-ranked LSU in the first round Friday at UCLA’s Jackie Robinson Field. The bonus is that Bibona is ready to rejoin the team after missing the last month with a ribcage injury, Gillespie said.

The senior left-hander has not pitched since beating Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, 3-1, on May 7. Bibona, who played at Santa Margarita High School, has a 9-2 record and 2.10 earned-run average this season.

“Daniel will be back,” Gillespie said. “We just have to figure when we will use him and long can he go.”

In Bibona’s absence, Christian Bergman was elevated to the No. 1 slot in the Anteaters’ rotation. He is 8-3 with a 3.82 ERA this season. Freshman Evan Brock has filled the void, going 2-0 with a 2.79 ERA in three starts since Bibona was injured. Brock is 5-4 with a 2.96 ERA on the season.

“If there is a silver lining to Bibona being injured it’s that Evan matured rapidly,” Gillespie said. “Bergman stepped in and energized our pitching. We have not lost a Friday game with him the last month.”

-- Chris Foster