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Bruins in Paris

UCLA baseball records 25th loss of season in defeat to UC Irvine

Junior designated hitter Jack Holman swings at Jackie Robinson Stadium. (Zimo Li/Daily Bruin)


No. 12 UC Irvine9

By Kai Dizon

April 24, 2024 6:02 p.m.

Third basemen Roch Cholowsky sent a home run — his second of the game — deep into the night sky.

The freshman’s first long ball of the night tied the game in the fourth – and the next gave the Bruins a two-run lead in the bottom of the eighth.

A win against a top-25 foe was three outs away.

But as coach John Savage said earlier this season, baseball is a humbling game.

UC Irvine right fielder Chase Call – the older brother of freshman infielder Phoenix Call – stepped up to the plate with runners on second and third and one out in the top of the ninth. The elder Call brother tagged a middle-middle pitch deep toward center.

Payton Brennan ran in pursuit. He leaped at the wall — just yards away from where Arizona State’s Isaiah Jackson robbed a three-run homer a game prior — but the sophomore center fielder came up short.

Call’s homer gave No. 12 UC Irvine (29-8, 11-4 Big West) a two-run lead it would hold on to, defeating UCLA baseball (13-25, 6-15 Pac-12) by a score of 9-7 at Jackie Robinson Stadium on Tuesday night. For a second time this season, a late-game Anteater blast proved decisive against the Bruins.

“It was a really good game,” Savage said. “We just ended up on the short end of it.”

In a game that featured four lead changes — and four Bruin homers — the Anteaters came out on top.

“We played the way that we should tonight,” Cholowsky said. “Came down to that last inning – they did what they had to do.”

Luke Rodriguez started the game and held UC Irvine to one run over his first three frames. In the fourth, Savage went to the bullpen after the right-hander allowed the first two men to reach with a pitch count sitting at 61 – the second most he has thrown all season.

Following the series finale with Arizona State, Savage said Justin Lee was being used all too often, but Tuesday, the right-hander was the first out of the bullpen. The freshman pitched out of Rodriguez’s jam in the fourth — allowing just one runner to cross — and tossed a scoreless fifth.

In the sixth, however, he was relieved for senior right-hander and outfielder JonJon Vaughns after surrendering three runs. Vaughns tossed two scoreless innings before graduate student right-hander Rashad Ruff entered with a runner on and two outs in the top of the eighth.

On Sunday, Ruff tossed 3.2 scoreless innings in a blowout loss but returned to high leverage on Tuesday. The Coppin State transfer closed out the eighth before allowing four runs in the top of the ninth – including Chase Call’s game-winning big fly.

In the bottom of the ninth, UCLA went down in order as UC Irvine right-hander David Utagawa caught all three Bruin batters looking at strike three.

“We can build off some of the things that went down today,” said junior designated hitter Jack Holman – who hit a home run Tuesday. “Tomorrow (Wednesday) and Thursday are big days for us to get ready for the weekend.”

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Kai Dizon
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