Wednesday, June 03, 2015

2015 WCWS Championship Round -- Game 3

TOP 1st: Michigan goes quietly.

BOTTOM 1st: An HBP and failed defensive attempt to get the lead runner on a bunt put Gators on first and second with none out. Lauren Haeger, starting again as UF pitcher, then singled in the game's first run. The next two batters are retired, but Taylor Schwarz singles in two more runs. 3-0 Florida after one. Interestingly, as shown below in my pregame stats, Schwarz is second in OPS for the Gators in the title round, although she had only three plate-appearances before tonight ...

TOP 2nd: Michigan goes quietly again.

BOTTOM 2nd: Lead-off hitter bunts for single, with overthrow to first putting runner on second... Things continue to go downhill for Michigan, as runner advanced to third with one out, and Kelsey Stewart singles her in. 4-0 Florida. I never thought I'd be saying this, but Megan Betsa in to pitch in relief of Haylie Wagner... Two straight HBP load bases for Taylore Fuller... Betsa strikes out Fuller and Kirsti Merritt, keeping the Wolverines chances to win at "improbable" rather than "hopeless."

TOP 3rd: Another instance of back-to-back HBP, this time by Haeger... K to Ramirez. The two Sierras, Lawrence and Romero, next in order... Lawrence hanging in at 2-2 with three straight foul balls... Fouls out... Dramatic chance for Romero to rescue Wolverines with two out! Shot down left-field line foul by inches... Romero walks on 10-pitch at-bat. Bases loaded for Christner... Called strikes on first two pitches... Strikes out swinging...

BOTTOM 3rd: Gators go quietly, as Betsa cruising along...

TOP 4th: Nothing doing for Michigan...

BOTTOM 4th: With two out and a Gator runner on first, Michigan does something it probably should have starting doing Monday night: intentionally walk Haeger! Wolverines throw out Fuller trying to bunt for a hit, retiring the side...

TOP 5th: Michigan down to nine outs... With one out, Tera Blanco grounds a hard single to left. Prior to her at-bat, the Wolverines' hit total had been "blanco" (as in "blank," rather than "white")... Abby Ramirez adds an infield hit (with no throw) to deep short... Here come those two Sierras again... Full-count to Lawrence... Flare to right, but caught... Up to Romero again... Hard line single to left-center, putting UM on the board (4-1 Florida). Runners at first and second... Christner flies out to center...

BOTTOM 5th: Another scoreless inning for Betsa...

TOP 6th: With two outs, pinch-hitter Amanda Vargas bloops one just beyond the shortstop's reach into center for a base hit... Wagner HBP, putting runners on first and second... Tying run at the plate in the name of Blanco... Ground-up to short, ending threat...

BOTTOM 6th: HBP loads bases with one out; Wagner back in the circle for Betsa... Gets out of jam...

TOP 7th: This is it for Michigan -- three more outs... Ramirez leads off with infield hit to the hole at short... K for Lawrence... Force at second... Hutch giving a pep talk to Christner at 0-2... Ground-out to first, it's all over!

Congratulations to the Florida Gators, the first team other than UCLA or Arizona to win consecutive national titles!

PRE-GAME STATS: I computed OPS (On-base-percentage Plus Slugging) for Games 1 and 2 combined for everyone with at least one plate-appearance in the WCWS championship round. OPS has become a well-established baseball statistic, as it captures both ability to get on base and power-hitting. As one of the ESPN hosts on tonight's pregame coverage said, "Lauren Haeger has been the Florida offense." The following chart (which you can click to enlarge) illustrates this dramatically.


Haeger leads overwhelmingly in OPS. However, excluding Taylor Schwarz, who has only three plate-appearances in the championship round, Michigan has the next four leaders in OPS.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

2015 WCWS Championship Round -- Game 2

A little late getting home tonight, so I'm catching up. Michigan is the home team, with Haylie Wagner starting for the Maize and Blue, and Lauren Haeger for the Orange and Blue...

Michigan scores in first inning, via singles by Sierra Lawrence and Kelsey Susalla, and 1-0 Wolverines remains the score...

With Florida about to come up in the top of the fourth, ESPN announcers note that Wagner has thrown first-pitch strikes to 8 out of 11 Gator batters thus far...

A borderline hit (as opposed to an error by the shortstop) for Lauren Haeger, followed by a solid hit by Taylore Fuller give the Gators runners at first and second with one out in the top of the fourth... Nothing comes of it, though...

Aubree Munro leads off the top of the fifth for Florida with a bloop single to shallow right... Justine McLean liner caught in air by shortstop, runner doubled off first... Kelsey Stewart flies to left, ending half-inning...

Lawrence lines double to the wall with one out for Michigan in bottom of fifth... Sierra Romero grounds out sharply to short, then Lawrence tagged out trying for third... Controversy over whether Florida third-baseperson was blocking bag before receiving throw (which isn't allowed)... Umps reject UM argument...

Romero nice backhand scoop to throw out lead-off hitter at first... Kirsti Merritt bunt single, as Wolverines let ball roll, hoping it goes foul, which it doesn't... Haeger up... Weak pop-up to Romero... Merritt steals second... Fuller hard liner caught by Abby Ramirez at short to end threat...

Michigan goes quietly in bottom of sixth...

Florida down to last three outs... Bailey Castro, Taylor Schwarz, and Munro due up... One quick out on weak pop to Wagner... Strikeout... Kayli Kvistad pinch-hitting... Another K... We'll have a Game 3 tomorrow night...

Wagner with 20 innings pitched in WCWS not allowing an earned run (per ESPN): 7 tonight, 3 and 1/3 last night,  3 and 1/3 vs. LSU, and 6 and 1/3 vs. UCLA (1 unearned run in that game)... Michigan gets first win of season vs. Florida tonight after three losses (last night, plus two during season)...

Monday, June 01, 2015

2015 WCWS Championship Round -- Game 1

A bit of a surprise in that Florida is starting Aleshia Ocasio, instead of Lauren Haeger, in the circle. Haeger is the ace, but Ocasio has beaten Michigan twice this season. The Wolverines are sticking with Megan Betsa, even though her pitching has been shaky in the two previous games and Haylie Wagner has had to relieve her.

TOP 1st: Kelly Christner gets a two-out single for Michigan, but that's it...

BOTTOM 1st: Errant throw on grounder to short puts Gators' Kelsie Stewart on second... Stewart to third on ground-out to second. That brings up Haeger, who has hit 70 career homers along with exceeding 70 pitching wins... Haeger hits her 71st, making it 2-0 Gators... Two strikeouts (with a walk in between) gets Betsa and Michigan out of the inning...

TOP 2nd: Wagner gets two-out single... Tera Blanco walks, bringing up Abby Ramirez.  The Wolverines have been getting a lot of production from the lower part of the order in the WCWS... But not this time, as Ramirez strikes out...

BOTTOM 2nd: Gators go quietly...

TOP 3rd: Sierra Romero rips a one-out single up the middle... Christner flies out to right, Romero stays put... Kelsey Susalla likewise flies out to right...

BOTTOM 3rd: Nicole DeWitt with a one-out single, Haeger lines double to wall, making it 3-0 Gators... Kirsti Merritt HBP...  Ground-up to second advances runners to second and third... Michigan at a crossroads, as base hit may put game out of reach... Bailey Castro up... Walks to load bases for Taylore Fuller... Wagner coming in to pitch... Easy pop-up to catcher ends threat...

TOP 4th: Lindsay Montemarano with a one-out walk, followed by strikeout... Force at second ends half-inning...

BOTTOM 4th: Error by shortstop puts lead-off Gator on first... Bunt pop-up leaves her there... Hard, low chopper grabbed by Blanco at first for out, runner to second... Dribbler to left side of infield, out on close play at first...

TOP 5th: Sierra Lawrence with a one-out walk on a 3-2 pitch... Romero forces her fellow Sierra at second... Weak bloop to first ends half-inning (not sure if caught on fly or a grounder)...

BOTTOM 5th: Michigan retires Haeger for first time tonight, on deep grounder to Romero between first and second... Next batter also grounds out... K ends the inning...

TOP 6th: Susalla lines single to center and Lauren Sweet HBP, giving UM first and second with no outs... Montemarano at the plate... Sac-fly to right, Susalla advances to third... Wagner up. Can she rescue Michigan offensively, the way she has stabilized the Wolverines from the circle? Misses a homer to left by mere feet, as ball goes foul... Wagner retired on infield pop-up... Up to Blanco, who walks...  Ramirez due up with bases loaded, receiving pep talk from Lawrence... The pep talk works, as Ramirez singles in two. UM cuts deficit to 3-2... Lawrence up with runners on first and second... Flies to warning track in left-center, ending threat...

BOTTOM 6th: Lead-off HBP to Castro... Fuller flies to center (you know what I mean)... Runner bunted to second, two out... Pinch-hitter Briana Little with weak pop to pitcher, ending inning...

TOP 7th: This is it for Michigan, with heart of order -- Romero, Christner, and Susalla -- due up... Delaney Gourley in to pitch for Florida... 3-2 after 3-0 count... Foul... Ball 4, high... Romero to second on passed ball... Christner hanging in a 2-2 with some foul balls... Singles, with Romero held at third... Force at second, Romero still at third... Sweet strikes out, Wolverines down to final out. Montemarano ground out to short. GAME OVER.

PREGAME NOTE: I've never hidden the fact that I'm a graduate of the University of Michigan (Ph.D., 1989). I'm definitely rooting for the Wolverines, but I will try my best to keep my coverage as unbiased as possible. Below is my T-shirt lineup for tonight, tomorrow night, and (if necessary) Wednesday night.


Right now, I'm wearing a 2005 national championship shirt. Tomorrow, I'll wear my shirt with "Go Blue!" in German, in honor of my wife. Wednesday, I'll go with a basic MICHIGAN shirt.