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UCLA baseball succumbs to offensive, defensive struggles in loss to Michigan

Junior right-hander Luke Jewett throws a pitch at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Jewett tossed a career-high 110 pitches over 6.0 innings against Michigan. (Michael Gallagher/Daily Bruin)

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By Mika McCaffrey

March 2, 2024 10:02 a.m.

The Bruins fell victim to self-inflicted mistakes in a rainy contest against a future conference foe.

UCLA baseball (5-4) fell to Michigan (4-6) by a score of 4-3 on Friday at Jackie Robinson Stadium, with the Wolverines’ three seventh-inning runs being unearned due to a wild pitch and a costly two-out error from junior second basemen Duce Gourson.

“Just disappointing,” said coach John Savage. “We had our chances, and we just didn’t do enough to win the game. It’s still early, but this is the third week, and we just didn’t play well enough to win.”

The Bruins led for the majority of the game until the Wolverines’ three runs in the top of the seventh and they were unable to overcome the deficit.

Junior right-hander Luke Jewett tossed a career-high-tying six innings and only allowed one run. He also struck out five.

Savage said his pitching helped UCLA keep the game competitive.

“He hung in there and threw over 100 pitches and competed and made pitches and really got us to the seventh inning,” Savage said. “He got us to exactly where we wanted in the game.”

With UCLA up 2-1 in the third inning, Jewett worked out of a jam despite walking two batters.

The reliever-turned-starter produced a pop out and a fielder’s choice to get out of the frame unscathed, stranding a runner in scoring position.

“When you walk a guy, there is nothing I can do about it once it’s done, so just got to get ready for the next pitch and carry on from there,” Jewett said.

Freshman right-hander Matthew Gobel entered for Jewett in the seventh inning for his first career appearance – striking out both batters he faced.

“I thought he handled it well, composed himself,” Jewett said. “He won two 3-2 counts, so there is nothing more we can ask for for a first appearance.”

Despite Jewett and Gobel’s performances, the Bruins added an extra three errors to their season tally, one day removed from their seven-error game against Long Beach State on Thursday.

Savage said the defense has been making uncharacteristic errors.

“We made a lot of mistakes,” Savage said. “We still think we’re a good defensive team, … but we, for whatever reason, we just have not handled the ball very well, and you know, we got to play better defense.”

UCLA struggled offensively, recording four hits throughout the game. Gourson hit a single in the bottom of the second, which began the Bruins’ two-run frame. Freshman third baseman Roch Cholowsky earned an RBI, scoring Gourson with a double.

Senior infielder Daylen Reyes – who hit an RBI single in the seventh inning and ended the game with a season-high two RBIs – said this game is an example of how to approach close affairs.

“We just need to do things a little sharper, and we just need to kind of come together more and compete harder,” Reyes said. “I mean, when we get in games like that, that are pretty tight, it’s kind of just about outlasting opponents.”

Two games against local opponents – San Diego and UC Irvine on Saturday and Sunday, respectively – now await the Bruins as they attempt to get back in the win column.

“We’ve experienced and lost and experienced some adversity, so it’s all about learning from it,” Reyes said.

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