WCWS 2019: UCLA walks off with 12th national championship
OKLAHOMA CITY -- "Big Play Shay" pulled out the late-inning dramatics once again for the Oklahoma Sooners on Tuesday, but in the end, it was UCLA that walked off with the victory in Game 2 of the Women's College World Series. The win gave the Bruins a record 12th national championship.
Knighten, the storied senior, stared down Rachel Garcia with the chance to tie the game for the Sooners in the seventh inning. The 2017 tournament's most outstanding player had been here before. She hit the winning home run in the 17th inning against Florida in Game 1 of the championship series in 2017. She's a hero.
And she did it again.
She sent a solo shot over the fence when it looked like the Sooners were done Tuesday to breathe some life back into Oklahoma and tie the game at 4-4. That, however, was short-lived.
With two out in the bottom of the seventh, Kinsley Washington -- who went 4-for-4 in Game 1 -- got the Bruins the championship-winning RBI. Pinch runner Jacqui Prober rounded third and dodged the tag by Oklahoma catcher Lynnsie Elam to give the Bruins the 5-4 victory and their first championship since 2010 -- and record 12th overall.
Here's how it all went down.
The game looked as though it was going to change dramatically in Oklahoma's favor in the top of the fourth. The Sooners had climbed out of a two-run hole and tied it up. And then Oklahoma loaded the bases with one out and two of its best hitters coming to the plate. Both were ineffective. Caleigh Clifton struck out and Jocelyn Alo grounded out. There are only so many shots a team gets to hang runs on Garcia, and in a moment where the Sooners needed to cash in, they came up empty. It gave UCLA the opportunity to steal back the game.
The Sooners might have tied it up, but they couldn't quite get over the hump, and the fourth inning was their best opportunity. Oklahoma left eight runners on base in Game 2.
Oklahoma shortstop Grace Lyons had an amazing play in the fifth inning. Colleen Sullivan hit a grounder to Lyons that she corralled almost in the grass. She jumped and fired it to first to get the out, a tremendous display of athleticism.
Rachel Garcia watch
Garcia anchored her team to the victory. It wasn't her best performance -- she gave up eight hits and four earned runs -- but she did what she needed to do when her team needed it most. After throwing just 61 pitches in Game 1, Garcia threw 131 in Game 2 and struck out four.
Her run in the tournament has been exceptional. She put UCLA on her back. Just check out her stats:
Pitching: 9-0, 14 earned runs in 65⅔ innings pitched, 79 strikeouts, 17 walks.
Hitting: 9-for-30 (.300), 3 home runs, 16 RBIs.
Two UCLA players, Brianna Tautalafua and Aaliyah Jordan, hit home runs in both games. In the first game, those homers were lost in a sea of runs for the Bruins, but Tuesday night, they were impactful. Jordan's home run in the bottom of the third extended UCLA's lead back to two runs, and Tautalafua's in the fifth gave UCLA back the lead at 4-3 before Knighten tied it for Oklahoma.
Tautalafua held steady for the Bruins at the hot corner and made some big plays for UCLA down the stretch. When the ball headed her way, she made the play every time. With the lights shining brightly and a championship on the line, that is no small feat.
Honorable mention to Kelli Godin, who made an impressive catch at the wall in the seventh to hold off the Oklahoma rally.