The Bruins still have the most wins in Pac-12 play, but their midweek woes continued Tuesday night.
No. 13 UCLA baseball (22-10, 11-4 Pac-12) lost 8-1 to unranked UC Irvine (21-14), its second Tuesday night loss in a row. This midweek slump by the Bruins comes after a 5-1 stretch in conference play.
“I didn’t think we were good enough tonight,” said coach John Savage. “That’s the bottom line.”
Sophomore right-hander Ryan Garcia got the start for UCLA, allowing a double to the first batter of the game. The second batter hit a line drive that ricocheted off Garcia’s calf, prompting Savage and the training staff to pay him a visit on the mound.
“They came out attacking,” Garcia said. “I wanted to be more aggressive, obviously.”
Garcia stayed in the game, but hit two batters and allowed one earned run before escaping the inning. The righty allowed just one hit to the next 11 batters he faced, but was pulled in the fourth inning. Garcia’s ERA this season is now 2.08, after entering the game with a 2.03 mark.
“I thought he was pretty average,” Savage said. “He didn’t set the tone in any way.”
After sophomore left-hander Nick Scheidler was brought in to record the final out of the fourth, Savage turned to Jack Ralston. The redshirt sophomore right-hander, who entered the game with a 7.71 ERA, fell victim to some costly mistakes by his defense in the fifth that ballooned his ERA to 9.24.
Ralston walked the leadoff man and freshman shortstop Kevin Kendall bobbled a ground ball that allowed the runner to advance. A miscommunication between sophomore center fielder Jeremy Ydens, freshman right fielder Garrett Mitchell and sophomore second baseman Chase Strumpf turned what could have been an inning-ending pop-up into an RBI single for UC Irvine.
The next batter, second baseman Cole Kreuter, knocked a two-run home run to left field to put the Anteaters up 4-1.
Outside of the fifth inning, the Bruins’ fielders were able to make up for their mistakes. Sophomore third baseman Ryan Kreidler made a diving play in the third, and Kendall slid on his knees and popped up for the throw across the infield in the eighth. A successful two-out pickle between third and home prevented the Anteaters from scoring their fifth run in the seventh inning.
The Bruins were still down three runs heading into the ninth, but freshman reliever Holden Powell allowed four earned runs and recorded just one out before being pulled.
UCLA was able to get men on base, tallying 10 hits – just one fewer than UC Irvine. However, the Bruins were 2-for-11 with two outs and 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position. Their four, five and six hitters were a combined 0-for-12.
“We still have to get better at adapting to what we’re dealing with,” Savage said. “We had some good at bats, but we just didn’t string enough together.”
Strumpf was one of four Bruins with multiple hits, going 3-for-3 with a walk on the night. The righty has a .385 batting average since the start of conference play March 16.
“I think that’s what has really improved my game right now – two-strike hitting,” Strumpf said. “It’s a big part, for sure, in my approach.”
UCLA resumes Pac-12 play Friday night against its crosstown rival, USC.