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Bruins in Paris

UCLA baseball falls to UC Irvine, coach John Savage ejected

Coach John Savage folds his arm close to his chest in UCLA’s dugout. (Aidan Sun/Daily Bruin)


No. 16 UC Irvine9

By Kai Dizon

May 8, 2024 4:04 p.m.

The Anteaters shut down their baseball program following the 1992 season.

In 2000, the team hired a first-time coach – John Savage – to revive the program.

Over twenty years later – and his 20th year at the helm of UCLA baseball (16-30, 6-18 Pac-12) – Savage fell to No. 16 UC Irvine (35-10, 15-6 Big West) by a score of 9-6 on Tuesday. In front of his alma mater crowd, Savage was ejected by home plate umpire David Buck and took the long stroll down the right field line of Anteater Ballpark – the stadium he helped establish.

Savage was unavailable for comment following his ejection in the sixth inning Tuesday night.

Although Savage’s removal occurred in the second half of the contest, freshman right-hander Landon Stump started the game and allowed six runs – only two earned – in two innings of work while recording three strikeouts.

Irvine designated hitter Woody Hadeen popped a short flyball into shallow left field where freshman third baseman Roch Cholowsky and junior shortstop Cody Schrier collided, allowing the ball to drop. The play, later ruled an error on Cholowsky, sparked a four-run inning for the Anteaters.

In the top of the fifth, freshman Roman Martin cut Irvine’s lead in half with a pinch-hit, three-run homer to left, scoring freshman Phoenix Call and redshirt junior AJ Salgado who both singled.

“The biggest thing is being comfortable and confident. If I can feel those two things at the plate, I’m in a good spot and I can just trust my work and just let it take me from there,” Salgado said after his three-hit night.

Freshman first baseman Mulivai Levu, junior center fielder Malakhi Knight, Schrier and Cholowsky all followed Martin with base hits of their own to bring UCLA within a run of Irvine.

That’s as close as the Bruins would get.

Freshman right-hander Justin Lee allowed two runs in the bottom half and UCLA turned to a pair of senior right-handers the rest of the way.

After the first pitch in the bottom of the sixth from senior outfielder/right-hander JonJon Vaughns was deemed a check-swing ball, Buck tossed Savage from the game with little argument from the Bruins’ coach.

In his second inning of work, Vaughns appeared to experience some discomfort and was relieved in favor of Caedon Kottinger, who inherited a runner on second with two outs in the seventh.

“He’s (JonJon Vaughns) been battling for and he’s done a lot for us,” Kottinger said. “His arm’s a little bit tired, but it’ll be fine. It’s just important that no matter the situation on the field or the pitcher you come in for, you got to be able to pick them up, put up a zero and take care of the inherited runners.”

In his first appearance in a week, Kottinger stranded the runner at second and tossed a shutout eighth inning.

Following Savage’s exit, UCLA’s offense would muster just one hit – a solo shot from junior second baseman Duce Gourson to leadoff the ninth – as the rest of the Bruins would go quietly.

“If we can just get those hits back-to-back and create more innings with runs instead of one or two a game, then I think that gives us a better chance,” Salgado said.

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Kai Dizon
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