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Lack of pitching performance sends UCLA baseball home with loss against Pepperdine

Sophomore center fielder Malakhi Knight tracks the ball after a hit during a game against Utah. (Jordan Guzman/Daily Bruin)

Baseball


No. 22 UCLA7
Pepperdine8

By Ava Abrishamchian

April 12, 2023 1:38 p.m.

This post was updated April 13 at 4:09 p.m.

After back-and-forth innings, the Bruins ultimately fell to the Waves on the California coast.

No. 22 UCLA baseball (19-9-1, 8-5-1 Pac-12) found itself struggling to gain a lead against Pepperdine (11-19, 4-8 WCC), falling to a bottom of the ninth walk-off. Despite runs in the eighth and ninth knotting the score late, the Bruins were unable to pull ahead in Malibu on Tuesday afternoon.

Coach John Savage said pitching kept the Bruins out of the win column.

“It was a pretty low-level game and disappointing, to say the least,” Savage said. “We swung the bats pretty well today to win the game, but we didn’t pitch.”

On the mound, the Bruins had seven pitchers make an appearance, but only three were able to keep the Waves from scoring. Senior right-hander Charles Harrison pitched a shutout seventh and eighth frames, setting up UCLA to tie the game at seven in the top of the ninth.

Harrison echoed his coach’s sentiments about the team’s pitching.

“We need to pitch better. Not enough guys have zeros tonight,” Harrison said. “Guys just need to be better at picking each other up. Embrace the situations that you put in and just have our team’s back.”

With freshman right-hander Michael Barnett starting on the mound, the Bruins gave up four runs in the first three innings. Barnett was soon relieved by redshirt sophomore right-hander Chris Aldrich midway through the third.

“(Barnett) has started four or five games, and he didn’t pitch very well today,” Savage said. “You’re only as good as your starting pitcher in baseball. If you get a good start, then you know, you tend to build off that. (We) had a bad start.”

UCLA knotted the score with Pepperdine four times throughout the game, including an initial tie in the third inning on an RBI single from sophomore center fielder Malakhi Knight to knock in sophomore shortstop Cody Schrier.

Knight and Schrier teamed up again in the fifth and sixth frames, combining for three more RBIs, including a homer from Schrier. The top-of-the-lineup duo combined for six of the Bruins’ 15 hits and four of their seven runs.

The blue and gold tied the game for the final time in the ninth inning when a sacrifice bunt scored freshman outfielder Keenan Proctor. However, back-to-back singles by the Waves ended the game and handed the Bruins a loss.

Despite the offensive performance, Schrier said there is room to improve.

“It was just everyone staying together and really passing it off to the next guy and doing their job,” Schrier said. “But I think we could still get a little bit better. I think we can always improve.”

UCLA will return to Jackie Robinson Stadium to face UC Davis in a nonconference series starting Friday.

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Ava Abrishamchian
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