Nothing comes easy, even when you have been anointed No. 1.
UCLA was the top-overall seeded team entering the NCAA tournament and received perks befitting that lofty status. The Bruins were given Cal State Bakersfield, making its first tournament appearance, for their first game in the Los Angeles Regional.
What followed was a grind. The Bruins came away with a 7-2 victory at Jackie Robinson Stadium, but it took work.
Pitcher James Kaprielian was strong, allowing two runs and five hits in seven innings. He had to pitch out of jams in the third, fifth and seventh innings. The Bruins also committed two errors.
Luke Persico and Christoph Bono both drove in two runs, but the Bruins' offense also got enough out of a little, with three bunts leading to two runs in the fifth inning. The Bruins stranded 12 runners on base.
Kaprielian, now 10-4, handled his job as UCLA's No. 1 starter. He struck out six and was dominant at times. He also had to wiggle out of a situation in the fifth, when the Roadrunners had runners on second and third with one out. He struck out Mylz Jones and got David Metzgar to ground out.
The Bruins seized opportunities to generate their offense, scoring runs through attrition.
In the fourth inning, Kort Peterson was hit by a pitch and the next three Bruins bunted. Trent Chatterton sacrificed and reached first on pitcher James Barragan's throwing error, with Peterson taking third. Bono bunted and beat the throw to first with Peterson scoring to break a 1-1 tie. After Brett Steven's sacrifice, Kevin Kramer singled, scoring Chatterton for a 3-1 lead.
UCLA scored runs in the fifth and sixth to take control of the game, but just as easily could have come away with nothing.
A ground ball by Chatterton in the fifth, which could have been an inning-ending double play, was mishandled by Metzgar, allowing Chris Keck to score. An inning later, Persico sent a grounder to shortstop Jones, who could not field it cleanly. A potential double play turned into a fielder's choice that scored Brett Stevens from third.
Maryland 3, Mississippi 1: Sophomore Mike Shawaryn was overpowering through five innings, striking out nine, before handing the game over to the bullpen in the sixth inning.
Shawaryn (13-2) held the Rebels (30-27) hitless after giving up two singles in the first. He walked the bases loaded with one out and was replaced by Robert Gallagher, who proceeded to walk Nic Perkins to force in a run.
Gallagher struck out Kyle Watson and Cameron Dishon lined out to end the inning. Bobby Ruse went two perfect innings. Kevin Mooney struck out the side in the ninth for his ninth save.
The Terrapins are 40-21.
The victory equaled Maryland's school record for victories, set last season when the Terrapins reached the super regional before losing to Virginia.