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Jensen signs with UC Irvine

John Jensen signs for his scholarship to UC Irvine as athletic director Rocco Constantino looks on.
John Jensen signs for his scholarship to UC Irvine as athletic director Rocco Constantino looks on.

SBCC third baseman John Jensen signed a National Letter-of-Intent to play baseball for UC Irvine on Wednesday in a ceremony at the Sports Pavilion.

Jensen, a former Santa Barbara High star, had an outstanding freshman season for the Vaqueros last year. He hit .338 overall and led the WSC North in hitting (.380) and on-base percentage (.459). He helped the Vaqueros win the conference title and make their seventh straight trip to the Southern Cal Regional.

"John is one of the best pure hitters I've ever seen," said SBCC assistant coach Steven Hardesty. "I coached for a WSC rival last year and the first time we faced Santa Barbara we were able to get John out four times. We thought we had him figured out.

"The second game, we come out and tried to pitch him the exact same way. He made an adjustment and wound up driving two baseballs to the opposite field. Then we tried to make another adjustment but John adjusted to us and hit a ball across the street into a hotel.

"He's an outstanding force in the box and he'll be an outstanding player for us this year. He'll be an excellent player at the next level and has an opportunity to play for a program that's a two-time College World Series participant and for one of the most well-known coaches in the game in Mike Gillespie."

Jensen was selected as MVP of the WSC North last year. He led the conference in hits (27 in 20 games) and only struck out seven times in 71 at-bats.

"I chose UCI because Ben Orloff (the associate head coach) and Mike Gillespie are great coaches," said Jensen. "When I went on my visit there, Ben Orloff had really good things to say about the program. They have great facilities and a great place to work out. They get guys to the next level."

Jensen said SBCC coach Jeff Walker helped him grow as a baseball player last season.

"Jeff Walker is a fantastic coach and he taught me how to keep working hard and how to be a better person," Jensen stated. "And Coach Hardesty has done tremendous things for our program in the short time he's been here. I can't wait to play this season and have fun with my teammates."

Hardesty said: "John is not only our best player, he's our hardest worker. He's the first guy to practice and the last one to leave. He's probably the only conference MVP who still waters the field for his team. He's an outstanding person as well as being an outstanding baseball player."

The Vaqueros open the 2018 season on Jan. 26-27 with home games against Napa Valley.