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Consistent pitching from UCLA baseball helps knot Cal State Fullerton series

Junior right-hander Luke Jewett pitches at Jackie Robinson Stadium. (Aidan Sun/Daily Bruin)

Baseball


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By Kai Dizon

May 5, 2024 10:35 a.m.

John Savage wasn’t the only storied baseball coach to call a team meeting.

Earlier this week, Los Angeles Angels Manager Ron Washington rallied his squad after a blowout loss.

Like Savage, Washington’s club had lost nine of their last 10 as the Angels tried to turn things around at the Big A – where the Bruins just so happened to begin a weekend series against the Titans on Friday.

UCLA baseball’s (15-29, 6-18 Pac-12) pitching proved close-to-dominate and its defense remained errorless – highlighting what Savage called the trademarks of his program. But the team’s bats were held at bay as Cal State Fullerton (14-29, 5-16 Big West) defeated it 2-1 in 12 innings at Angel Stadium.

In game two of the series, the Bruins added three RBI to their Friday total, while their defense and pitching replicated their performance to even the series with a 4-1 victory in Fullerton.

In Anaheim, at Angel Stadium, Luke Jewett tossed the best start of his career. The Orange County native no-hit the Titans through 5.1 innings and finished the day with a career-high eight innings pitched, allowing just two hits and keeping his foes off the scoreboard.

In the top of the eighth, the junior right-hander was in a two-out jam with runners on second and third in a scoreless game. Looking for his ninth strikeout of the game – tying his career-high – Jewett struck out Cal State Fullerton pinch hitter Alijah Ramos, ending the threat.

Graduate student Rashad Ruff added two scoreless innings of his own, but the Bruins too had failed to get on the board as the game went well into extra innings.

In the top of the 12th, Titan outfielder Colby Wallace broke the drought with a two-run big fly off freshman right-hander Justin Lee.

A half inning later, UCLA finally drove a man home with an RBI single from freshman first baseman Mulivai Levu. But an errant decision by pinch-runner sophomore Toussaint Bythewood on the basepaths and a redshirt junior outfielder AJ Salgado strikeout sealed it.

For a second straight week, a career-best outing from Jewett resulted in a Bruin loss.

On Saturday, a two-out double – flared toward the left field line – off Salgado’s bat scored two to break a 1-1 tie in the top of the seventh.

On the other side of the ball, starter sophomore right-hander Michael Barnett tossed 119 pitches – a season-high for UCLA – over 6.2 innings, allowing just one run.

Freshman right-hander Landon Stump made his first relief appearance since March 9 – delivering 1.1 shutout innings – before the Bruins once again turned the ball over to Ruff.

A three-run lead was more than enough for Ruff. The Coppin State transfer retired the Titans to collect his seventh save of the season and tie for third place in the Pac-12.

UCLA returns to Jackie Robinson Stadium for the series rubber match Sunday.

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Kai Dizon
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