Adam Plutko limited Mississippi State to a run on four hits in six innings, and UCLA survived some anxious moments to beat the Bulldogs 3-1 in Game 1 of the College World Series finals Monday night.
Plutko retired nine straight to start, worked out of trouble twice and turned the game over to the bullpen in the seventh.
The Bulldogs (51-19) left runners in scoring position four of the last six innings.
The Bruins (48-17) are one win from their first national championship in baseball.
Mississippi State must win Game 2 on Tuesday night to keep alive its hopes for its first NCAA title in any sport.
UCLA made it 3-0 in the fourth on Eric Filia's two-out single off Chad Girodo, who replaced starter Trevor Fitts (0-1) in the second.
That was the last of the Bruins' six hits.
Plutko (10-3) walked in the Bulldogs' run in the fourth.