Saturday, April 13

‘He’s a clutch player’: Roch Cholowsky’s go-ahead double clinches UCLA baseball win

Freshman third baseman Roch Cholowsky hits the ball against Nevada in the seventh inning Tuesday night at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Cholowsky's two-run double provided the Bruins the game-winning run. (Xiang Li/Daily Bruin)



The crack of the bat is the quintessential sound of baseball.

From big flies to bunts, it draws the most attention.

Not all batted balls that spur the attention-grabbing tone fall for hits, but Tuesday night, the Bruins’ 10th proved the difference.

Behind a go-ahead double from freshman third baseman Roch Cholowsky – his team’s first and only RBI hit of the day – UCLA baseball (4-3) defeated Nevada (4-3) at Jackie Robinson Stadium 5-4. All of UCLA’s previous nine hits before Cholowsky’s seventh-inning two-bagger failed to drive in a run, with just one of them coming with runners in scoring position.

“He’s (Cholowsky is) a clutch player,” said coach John Savage. “I think people will learn that he’s a clutch player. … He’s going to prove that over time that he’s a big-time player, and that was a big-time hit. We needed it.”

The Wolf Pack struck early in the Bruins’ first-midweek contest of the season with a crooked number in the top of the first behind a two-out, two-run home run from outfielder Bryce Matthews. Nevada doubled its lead with a run in the second and fifth innings.

Freshman right-hander Landon Stump, who finished his five-inning start with six strikeouts, said the key to bouncing back after the first two frames lay in throwing his offspeed pitches for strikes.

“I noticed they were just taking any offspeed,” Stump said. “Start landing those offspeeds early and then it kind of opened up everything else.”

UCLA, in the meantime, put runners on base in each of the first four frames, but couldn’t bring anyone home, going 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position to that point.

The situational hitting weekend woes in Fort Worth seemingly bled into the Bruins’ first of their four-game homestand.

With the bases loaded and no outs in the sixth inning, the Bruins’ run expectancy was nearly three. Yet back-to-back strikeouts brought sophomore outfielder Payton Brennan to the plate as UCLA’s scoring hopes dwindled.

Brennan’s RBI required no noise at all.

A five-pitch walk pushed the first Bruin run of the game across the plate before a flyout ended the inning as UCLA still failed to reach the two-run plateau.

The story changed an inning later.

Two quiet runs, one from freshman first baseman Mulivai Levu, who picked up an RBI on a walk, and the other from junior shortstop Cody Schrier, who scored from third base on a passed ball, shrunk the deficit to one.

Moments later, however, noise permeated through the ballpark.

Cholowsky slapped a double to the opposite field, scoring Levu and junior second baseman Duce Gourson, pushing his team ahead by one and spurring cheers from the sparse crowd.

“I’m just trying to hit something hard the opposite way, obviously, and then try and react in,” Cholowsky said. “He gave me a pitch I feel like I could hit that way, and I just tried to go with it.”

Right-handers sophomore Cody Delvecchio and graduate student Rashad Ruff slammed the door in the eighth and ninth innings, respectively, keeping the Wolf Pack off the board.

Cholowsky said Delvecchio and Ruff have different personalities, but are both assets to the team.

“You see Deli (Delvecchio) after he went 1-2-3 in the eighth, and kind of lose his mind,” Cholowsky said. “Cody’s big energy and then Shad (Ruff) obviously lets his work speak for himself. It’s great having those two guys at the back end every game.”

And as Ruff blew his final pitch by Nevada catcher Jake Harvey, the sound across the diamond rang not of the crack of the bat, but of the pop of the catcher’s mitt.

Sports editor

Crosby is the 2023-2024 Sports editor on the football, men's basketball and NIL beats. He was previously an assistant Sports editor on the baseball, women's golf, men's water polo and women's water polo beats and a contributor on the baseball and women's golf beats. He is also a fourth-year statistics student.

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