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UCLA baseball loses to Arizona State Sun Devils in series opener

Redshirt junior outfielder AJ Salgado puts his bat up to bunt the ball. (Aidan Sun/Daily Bruin)


Arizona State5

By Mika McCaffrey

April 20, 2024 10:39 a.m.

With runners in scoring position, the Bruins were continuously unable to send one in against the Sun Devils.

UCLA baseball (13-22, 6-13 Pac-12) fell 5-3 to Arizona State (18-21, 8-11) in the series’ first game at Jackie Robinson Stadium on Friday. The Sun Devils scored four runs in the first two innings in contrast to the Bruins’ two, before both teams went scoreless until the ninth inning.

Coach John Savage said the team lost out on opportunities to score runs throughout the game.

“We had some guys up in big situations,” Savage said. “I thought some guys had … really good nights. I mean, AJ (AJ Salgado) had a good night, Duce (Duce Gourson) had a good night. They had some good quality at-bats. We just didn’t have enough.”

UCLA picked up 13 strikeouts on the night, contrasting Arizona State’s seven. The only Bruins to record multiple hits were redshirt junior outfielder Salgado and junior second baseman Gourson, who went 2-2 and 3-4, respectively.

“I think offensively, we did well – I mean, obviously we could do better,” Salgado said. “But I think our biggest thing is trying to be able to string those hits together, kind of back-to-back, instead of throughout the game.”

On the other side of the ball, the Bruins put up three errors in comparison to the Sun Devils’ zero.

Three players entered the pitching rotation, with starter junior right-hander Luke Jewett, freshman right-hander Justin Lee and senior right-hander JonJon Vaughns each seeing time. After giving up four early runs, Jewett threw four scoreless frames, followed by two from Lee.

Jewett said he was able to keep his composure due to his training.

“Throughout the stretch in those big innings, and we kind of work out of everything in the stretch,” Jewett said. “A big thing is P.O.P. – pitch out of problems – so it’s a big emphasis for us, … kind of locked down on it tonight.”

A series victory over Arizona State could place UCLA in the middle of the Pac-12 rankings, where it needs to be to qualify for the conference tournament.

“We’re playing for tournament lives; we’re really up against it,” Savage said. “You can’t get down in this league. … This league is so good that no one’s going to feel sorry for you, and you can’t put your head in the sand. You got to make sure you stay positive and stay confident.”

The Bruins will have another chance for a win Saturday.

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