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UCLA baseball goes 1-2 against Washington, secures 1st conference road win

Freshman right-hander Landon Stump pitches at Jackie Robinson Stadium. (Michael Gallagher/Daily Bruin)



By Kai Dizon

April 15, 2024 1:00 p.m.

A ground ball sent Roch Cholowsky ranging to his right with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and the winning run barreling down the third base line Friday.

But instead of sending the game to extras, the freshman‘s throw pulled the first baseman off the bag as the winning run crossed home.

On Sunday, another ground ball sent the shortstop into the hole. The ball tipped off the third baseman before finding Cholowsky’s glove, but the throw of the Chandler, Arizona, local was too late to get the runner at first.

While it didn’t spell out immediate disaster this time, danger loomed.

Two batters later, Husky right fielder Cooper Whitton slugged a grand slam to left field – turning a two-run Bruin lead into a two-run deficit.

When Cholowsky successfully made a play on a grounder in the hole to open the bottom of the eighth, the Bruins were down by four, and it would stay that way. UCLA baseball (13-20, 6-12 Pac-12) lost the Sunday rubber match 8-4 against Washington (11-17-1, 5-10) after losing in walk-off fashion 5-4 on Friday and winning Saturday 13-5 in Seattle.

“At the end of the day, we just need to play better baseball,” said freshman infielder Roman Martin.

The Bruins took a 4-1 lead into the sixth inning of the series opener as junior right-hander Luke Jewett exited the game allowing one run on five hits while recording a career-high nine strikeouts.

Coach John Savage handed the ball to freshman Luke Rodriguez – who entered with a 3.21 ERA over 28 innings pitched – but the right-hander was unable to retire any of the four hitters faced. Washington outfielder AJ Guerrero took Rodriguez deep to tie the game at four with a three-run homer.

UCLA turned to senior outfielder JonJon Vaughns for the final four innings. Vaughns was handed the loss after Husky center fielder Blake Wilson hit the walk-off infield single to Cholowsky to drive home pinch-runner Whitton from third.

Savage was unavailable for comment following the series finale Sunday.

UCLA rode the performance of starter Michael Barnett to its first conference win on the road Saturday. The sophomore tossed 7.1 innings on a career-high 113 pitches while the offense scored 13 runs on eight extra-base hits, including three home runs.

Martin appeared this weekend as the designated hitter in the cleanup spot. The freshman collected four hits, three RBIs and a run scored – including a double and home run Saturday – and was the only Bruin to amass multiple multi-hit games.

“I’m getting into midseason form,” Martin said. “It felt really good to do damage and help the team win on Saturday.”

Freshman right-hander Landon Stump tied his career high with five innings pitched Sunday – allowing just two hits and one run while striking out five. After posting an 8.22 ERA over his last four starts, Stump no-hit the Huskies through his first four frames.

“I stopped dancing around hitters and started to go get the (catcher’s) glove,” Stump said. “Even when they put it in play, it went my way today. Getting ahead in the count made it easier to pitch.”

But Sunday’s game got out of hand once Savage turned things over to the bullpen.

Right-hander Justin Lee looked like he had things turned around – allowing just two earned runs over his previous 9.1 innings pitched – but the freshman’s early-season struggles returned.

Lee allowed five of six batters he faced to reach and was charged with four runs – Whitton’s grand slam – before graduate student right-hander Rashad Ruff was brought in to pitch the rest of the way.

UCLA will head to Santa Barbara to take on UC Santa Barbara on Tuesday before facing Arizona State at Jackie Robinson Stadium starting Friday.

“Once we actually get a little more detailed and start doing the little things better, things will start clicking,” Martin said. “We’ve already taken major strides since the beginning of the year, so I think we’re headed in the right direction.”

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Kai Dizon
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