Game 6: Arizona State 6, Florida 5
- Top-seeded Arizona State improved to 57-6 and won its seventh game without a defeat in this year’s NCAA tournament as it downed Florida, 6-5. The Gators fell to 53-11 on the year.
- ASU improved to 9-6 at the WCWS and to 33-9 in the NCAA tournament under head coach Clint Myers. The Sun Devils are 13-14 all-time at the WCWS.
- Arizona State improved to 49-2 this year when scoring first and to 46-1 when leading after four innings. Additionally, the Sun Devils are 22-0 this year when they hit 2 or more home runs.
- ASU earned its fifth walk-off victory of the year and second in the postseason.
- Tonight’s ASU win snapped a three-game losing streak to the Gators. Included were a pair of Florida wins in the 2009 Gainesville Super Regional.
- Annie Lockwood’s two-out, bases-loaded single in the bottom of the seventh plated Katelyn Boyd with the game-winning run. Lockwood, who went 3-for-3 on the night with a game-tying solo homer in the bottom of the fourth, has 67 RBIs on the year and 10 in the NCAA tournament, both team highs.
- Stephanie Brombacher’s second-inning error snapped a streak of 38.2 errorless innings for Florida. It was the longest streak since the Gators lasted 40.0 innings without a defensive miscue earlier this year. Before tonight, Florida’s last error came on May 21 during its NCAA Regional contest against UCLA.
- Mandy Urfer’s leadoff home run in the third inning was her 11th of the season and second in NCAA tournament action for the Sun Devils.
- With the help of a pair of two-run home runs by Michelle Moultrie and Tiffany DeFelice, Florida scored five runs in the top of the fourth inning to go ahead 5-4. Moultrie’s homer was her fourth of the year and second in two days (she hit a solo blast in the first round against Missouri) and DeFelice’s was her seventh. It was just the third time this year Arizona State gave up two homers in the same inning (each time in the fourth frame).
- Florida’s five runs in the fourth inning represented a higher scoring output than each of games 1, 2, 3 and 5 of this year’s WCWS.
- ASU freshman pitcher Dallas Escobedo improved to 34-3 on the year. She threw 174 pitches and recorded 12 strikeouts.
- Tonight’s Session 3 attendance of 8,627 marked the third largest crowd in WCWS history. Through three sessions, 24,059 fans have attended this year’s event.
ARIZONA STATE HEAD COACH CLINT MYERS
“I don’t have a whole lot to say to you. You all were there and saw how great a game it was. It was exciting. There were opportunities for both sides. It was a thrilling game. It was a thrilling win.”
On what did they see in the game yesterday that jumped out to them:
“Again, they are a very good team. They have very good hitters and very good pitchers. They’re well-coached. We had a game plan. We had a mentality of what we needed to do. The tournament is not over. We’re going to try and continue that mentality and that game plan. We’re getting better at it. We made the statement at the beginning that our best softball is ahead of us. In my opinion we have played better in each of the games we have played so far. We’re anticipating that the next game is going to be even better.”
On his team not having to play until Sunday:
“I am very happy and pleased that we have a day off. You know everyone is going to get some rest. We talked about it at the end of the game. This tournament is far from being over. We have a lot of softball left to play. And the next game that we’re going to play will be the most important game that we’ll have played this season. This next game is huge. That’s our mentality. We’re not going fast or anything on that end of it. It is the most important game of the 2011 season.”
ARIZONA STATE FRESHMAN PITCHER DALLAS ESCOBEDO
On her emotions when Florida scored five runs in the fourth inning:
“I definitely was upset and tense and just so many different emotions. But my team – Mandy (Urfer) and Krista (Donnenwirth) and (Katelyn) Boyd – like they all knew we’ve been scoring off this girl the whole game so they knew that we’re obviously not done. Just knowing that they had that confidence in me to just get the out and go in there and we’ll score, that got me through to get the last out. And I knew I was struggling that whole inning, but thinking back on how I’ve struggled and how I’ve gotten through it helped me in knowing that they had confidence in me out there.”
On if she was aware that she threw 174 pitches:
“I was definitely not aware of that. I feel like every pitch has a purpose; that’s what we say. And if it takes me 175 to win a very important ball game, then it does. So I’m OK with it.”
ARIZONA STATE JUNIOR RIGHT FIELDER ANNIE LOCKWOOD
On her home run that tied the score at 5-5 in the fourth:
“I think I honestly went up there with an idea to just get a base hit. Because I know 1 through 9, our team can do anything. Our No. 9 hitter can hit a home run. So I was honestly going up there to get a base hit to start some kind of rally and then I hit a home run. It’s not something you practice. It’s not something that coach says, ‘Alright, it’s time to hit a home run.’ It happens when it happens. It was exciting and we went out there and said, ‘OK, we have a three-inning ball game now and this is our game to win. And we had no question that we were winning that game.”
On her game-winning hit with two outs in the seventh:
“The last at-bat, I honestly just wanted to get a hit. There was a runner on third base and we need one hit and there’s two outs, so you just put it in play and good things usually happen when you do that. I was really just trying to square the ball and put it somewhere where no one could get it. But she kind of hit it off her glove and that helped out a little bit.”
FLORIDA HEAD COACH TIM WALTON
“First of all give credit to where credit is due. I thought Arizona State was the better ball club tonight. I thought they did a really good job of putting pressure on us all night; really good hitters, tough to strike out. It’s just tough. It was a fight. I said that to Holly (Rowe) in the in-game interview. I didn’t know how we were going to get them out the rest of the game. I thought Hannah (Rogers) pitched a good game. Defensively, I thought we had some opportunities early in the game to take care of the ball and we didn’t. Overall, you’ve got to give those guys credit. I think they’re one of the best teams we’ve seen all year long, hands down, and we just weren’t quite good enough tonight.”
On his team’s inability to sustain offense after its five-run fourth inning:
“I think when you look at the box score, I think when somebody throws 75 balls and 99 strikes, I think that’s the inability right there. It wasn’t like she (Arizona State pitcher Dallas Escobedo) was throwing anything consistent. She had great breakaway velocity and was all over the place. That’s where it was harder to get settled in and it’s harder to be a consistent offense. I think ‘effectively wild’ was the term that I’ve seen in seven different games that I’ve watched her pitch this year. It’s tough to hit. Just when you think she’s going to throw three more balls in a row, she throws one that’s pretty hard to hit. So I think overall, give credit to her and probably not take as much credit from our hitters. I thought she did a good job.”
On how the longer pitch counts were tolling for Florida pitchers:
“Well, Hannah’s a strike thrower, so for me to look down here and see eight walks says a lot. I think they obviously did a good job, but she throws strikes and that’s got to be a season high. She went probably 25 games in a row without giving up eight walks, so that’s tough to give a team like that that many extra opportunities. But they did a good job working the count. They’re a tough team to strike out, for sure.”
FLORIDA JUNIOR CENTER FIELDER MICHELLE MOULTRIE
On facing Dallas Escobedo:
“She was throwing really good, obviously. She was throwing a lot of rise balls; that takes a while to get used to. We just have to be really disciplined to lay off some of those and I thought our team did a pretty good job of laying off a lot of the rise balls. We did a good job, had some good at-bats and so I’m proud of our team for that.”
On Florida’s inability to sustain offense after its five-run fourth inning:
“I thought our team stayed up pretty good. I didn’t think that ‘Sometimes you hit and sometimes you don’t.’ I didn’t think it was a really big letdown. I thought we hit the ball good and we got runners on base; we just didn’t score them. Just couldn’t move them in.”
FLORIDA SENIOR CATCHER TIFFANY DEFELICE
On facing Dallas Escobedo:
“I was kind of looking in. Just like Michelle (Moultrie) said, she’s a good pitcher. She was tough, she pitched a really good game and she made us battle the whole way through. So hopefully we’ll see them again and we’ll get another chance.”
Escobedo threw 174 pitches, 99 for strikes – a load for any pitcher. Myers warmed up his other two pitchers – Hillary Bach and Mackenzie Popescue – and said he was prepared to relieve Escobedo, depending on the game situation. But, after Florida’s 5-run outburst, he didn’t feel the need. The Gators had four base runners after that high point – 2 on walks, an isolated double by Moultrie (3-3 including a home run and single) and an isolated single by Bush to open the Gator 7th. He acknowledged that 75 balls and the eight walks were high, but he focused on the 99 strikes.
Florida ‘s fourth inning resulted in a 5-4 lead. Could it have been 6-4, which would have elevated the barrier for the Sun Devils? Schutte’s single brought home the fifth run, but Bruder, racing from 2nd, never slowed as she rounded 3rd – and was out at home by a margin that could not be called close. With proven hitter Bush, who led the Gators with 21 homers, coming up, some coaches would have held Bruder, and possibly created a 6-4 margin. But, many a coach in World Series past has made the same decision as Walton – if the ball is just entering the infield, and the runner is in full stride, force the defense to make a lightning strike throw – they did.
As Walton said post-game, Florida had other chances to score – 2 on with walks in the 5th, a leadoff double by Moultrie in the 6th, a leadoff single by Bush in the 7th – and didn’t score.
By all accounts – coaches, players and fans – the most exciting game so far.