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Poor run prevention, errors contribute to UCLA baseball’s fall to Arizona State

Sophomore right-hander Michael Barnett pitches the ball to the plate. (Aidan Sun/Daily Bruin)

By Kai Dizon

April 21, 2024 11:12 a.m.

Strikeouts and run prevention typically go hand in hand.

But not for the Bruins Saturday.

Sophomore right-hander Michael Barnett struck out Arizona State designated hitter Jacob Tobias swinging on a breaking ball in the dirt in the top of the first.

Freshman catcher Cashel Dugger fielded the dropped third strike and fired it down to first base for the out.

In came Arizona State center fielder Kien Vu from third who, with a headfirst dive, scored safely.

The Sun Devils jumped to an early 1-0 lead and never looked back.

UCLA baseball (13-23, 6-14 Pac-12) lost to Arizona State (19-21, 9-11) by a score of 8-2 at Jackie Robinson Stadium Saturday, securing both a four-game losing streak and a fourth straight series loss for the Bruins.

“We didn’t take care of the baseball,” said coach John Savage. “Offensively, we couldn’t really get anything going.”

After allowing six runs throughout his first four innings, Barnett tossed three shutout frames and finished the day with 115 pitches and his third outing of at least seven innings this season.

“You’re never going to be unbeatable,” Barnett said. “But you got to be unstoppable. Tried my best. Honestly, at the end of the day, that’s all you can do.”

On a day where UCLA’s offense only managed two runs, Barnett allowed six of Arizona State’s eight en route to the right-hander’s second loss of the season.

“On the boxscore, it says he gives up 12 hits in seven innings, and it looks like he got hit around,” Savage said. “I don’t really consider him getting hit around in that game, … there’s been so many plays that we haven’t made that have been (ruled) hits, therefore they’ve been (ruled) runs.”

For the second consecutive game, the Bruins recorded three errors in the field, including a pair from freshman third baseman Roch Cholowsky. UCLA continues to lead the conference in errors and boasts the lowest fielding percentage in the Pac-12.

“The run prevention has been poor,” Savage said. “We’re too easy to score off. That needs to stop.”

Offensively, the Bruins managed just four hits all day and stranded nine on the basepaths.

In the bottom of the eighth, when junior shortstop Cody Schrier sent an opposite-field flyball over the fence in right field – his first homer since Feb. 25 – the dwindling crowd erupted into applause. However, with no one on base ahead of Schrier’s blast, the scoreboard only changed from 8-1 to 8-2.

“It feels great (to be back),” Schrier said. “It sucked being away from the team.”

Schrier had been out since April 2 with a fractured right index finger before returning Friday.

With Saturday’s loss, UCLA has dropped 11 of its last 14 games, but it will have a chance to salvage the series on Sunday.

“It’s Jackie Robinson Day (on Sunday). so there’s a lot of pride and care that’s involved in this program, and it’s really important that we come out and play like Bruins,” Savage said.

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