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.