Confounding blown call helps UCLA upend Florida in Game 2 of 2018 WCWS

By Adam Silverstein
June 2, 2018
Confounding blown call helps UCLA upend Florida in Game 2 of 2018 WCWS
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No. 2 Florida Gators softball was running through the No. 3 UCLA Bruins for much of their game Friday night … until an unfathomably bad call at home plate completely reversed the momentum at the 2018 Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Florida led UCLA 4-0 entering the top of the fourth inning when junior right-handed pitcher Kelly Barnhill began struggling — in more ways than one. After committing an error on a throw to first, Barnhill hit a batter, threw a wild pitch and walked consecutive batters to give the Bruins their first run of the game.

With the bases loaded, redshirt sophomore shortstop Sophia Reynoso (2/2, HR, RBI, R, BB) snagged a foul ball for the second out of the inning and gunned it to home where senior catcher Janell Wheaton (0/4, 3 K) caught it clean and tagged the runner before she reached home plate. But instead of making the obvious call, the home plate umpire — clearly out of position down the third base line — called the runner safe. Without the benefit of replay that would have corrected the call and ended the inning, the Gators saw their lead cut to 4-2 … until it was erased completely as Barnhill gave up a three-run homer to the very next batter, one that never would’ve had the chance to take the plate in that frame had it not been for the blown call.

Florida smacked three home runs in the game with Reynoso (second inning) and sophomore pinch hitter Jordan Roberts (sixth) hitting solo shots, while senior first baseman Kayli Kvistad (3/4, HR, 2 RBI, R) jacked a two-run bomb in the third to build the 4-0 lead. UCLA also connected with a another homer in the sixth.

Following Roberts’ shot, the Gators were able to put the game-tying run on third with two outs in the sixth, but senior left fielder Amanda Lorenz (0/3, 2 R, BB) uncharacteristically hit a weak grounder to the pitcher on an 0-2 count to end the inning and Florida’s best chance of tying the game. One frame later, head coach Tim Walton got tossed after arguing with the same home plate umpire who blew the call earlier in the game. This led to some even more questionable strike calls in the game’s final frame that ultimately forced UF batters to swing at bad pitches.

Even more depressing for Florida is that Barnhill (7.0 IP, 3 H, 6 R [1 ER], 2 BB, 13 K) was dealing before her rough frame and relative implosion; she struck out eight straight to open the game and only allowed a single hit through the first five innings. Rachel Garcia was equally impressive for UCLA as, despite the three homers allowed, she struck out 15 on the evening and kept UF at bay after her team took the lead.

Rather than advance into the winner’s bracket and be one game away from the WCWS Championship Series, the Gators move into the loser’s bracket and must now win three games over the next two days to advance. Florida will play the winner of No. 4 Oklahoma vs. No. 8 Arizona State on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET. The winner of that game will face No. 5 Washington on Sunday at 1 p.m., needing to win two games in order to play for the championship. Florida had started 2-0 in its last three WCWS appearances.

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