UCLA baseball coach John Savage called it survival mode Sunday night. His team was in it, and lived through it.
The Bruins, the top-seeded team in the NCAA Division I tournament, put together back-to-back victories in the Los Angeles regional Sunday. The last one, a 4-2 win over third-seeded Maryland, set up a winner-takes-the-regional game at 11 p.m. Monday.
UCLA (45-15) had entered such a precarious position after a 4-1 loss to the Terps (41-22) on Saturday night. The Bruins bounced back strong, with a 9-1 victory over Cal State-Bakersfield early Sunday followed by the win over Maryland.
Even with the extra game Sunday, Savage said after his team beat Bakersfield that “we’re in good shape, pitching-wise.”
The Bruins proved it. Hunter Virant went 4 1/3 innings, giving up two runs. Jake Bird provided an inning. Tucker Forbes went 1 2/3 innings and left a runner on third in the sixth.
It was all designed to get to closer David Berg. He entered in the eighth and retired six of eight batters for his 13th save this season.
Maryland stranded seven runners, five in scoring position.
UCLA played small ball to take a 2-0 lead, with sacrifice bunts setting up runs in the first and second innings. Luke Persico singled home Kevin Kramer in the first. Kramer's single scored Darrell Miller Jr. in the second.
Maryland played long ball to cut that lead in half. LaMonte Wade (St. Paul's) led off the third inning by crushing a 2-0 pitch well beyond the right-field fence. It was his second home run against the Bruins in as many days.
UCLA got the run back in the third on Kort Peterson's RBI single.
The Terps took a page from Savage’s playbook, wrapping two singles around two bunts in the fifth. Kevin Smith’s squeeze scored Tim Lewis to cut UCLA’s lead to 3-2.
The Bruins added a run in the seventh. Moore doubled and stole third base, and catcher Kevin Martir’s errant throw went into left field, allowing Moore to score.
Maryland starter Kevin Selmer, who spent the majority of the season in the bullpen, could not match the effort. Selmer (3-1) didn’t get out of the third inning after allowing three runs on eight hits.
The Terps never recovered.