UCLA Coach John Savage called it survival mode Sunday. His team was in it, and lived through it.
The Bruins, the top-seeded team in the NCAA tournament, put together back-to-back victories in the Los Angeles Regional on Sunday. The nightcap, a 4-2 win over Maryland, set up a winner-takes-the-regional game Monday night at 8 p.m., also against the Terrapins.
UCLA (45-15) was placed in this precarious position by a 4-1 loss to the Terrapins (41-22) on Saturday night. The Bruins bounced back strongly with a 9-1 victory over Cal State Bakersfield, 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 41/3 innings, giving up two runs. Jake Bird provided an inning. Tucker Forbes went 12/3 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.
Maryland stranded seven runners, five in scoring position.
UCLA played little 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 singled home Darrell Miller Jr. in the second.
Maryland played long ball to cut that lead in half. LaMonte Wade 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.
The Bruins got the run back in the third, when Kort Peterson singled.
The Terrapins took a page from Savage's playbook, wrapping two singles around two bunts in the fifth. Kevin Smith's squeeze bunt scored Tim Lewis to cut UCLA's lead to 3-2.
The Bruins added a run in the seventh. Ty Moore doubled, stole third, with catcher Kevin Martir's throw going into left field. The error allowed Moore to score.
In the afternoon game:
UCLA 9, Cal State Bakersfield 1 — Cody Poteet was handed UCLA's season.
The junior, making his postseason debut, was in charge of keeping the Bruins alive in the tournament.
By the time Poteet was done, he was experienced. His 5 1/3 shutout innings kept UCLA moving.
Poteet (7-1) nursed a 1-0 lead, with the Bruins' season hanging on each pitch.
It was not a pristine performance. Poteet allowed only three hits, but walked four and hit two and spent most of the game pitching from the stretch.
His walked four batters and hit one in the first three innings. He got out of a two-on, one-out situation in the first, getting an inning-ending double play. UCLA right fielder Peterson threw out a runner at the plate to end the third.
Kramer homered in the first to give UCLA a 1-0 lead. The Bruins broke through with five unearned runs in the seventh, three on Moore's home run.
Cal State Bakersfield finished 37-24-1.