A raucous and electric standing room only crowd of 1590 saw the Utes (37-15) tie the best of three super regional at one win apiece and set up a decisive Game 3 at on Sunday, May 28 for a berth in Oklahoma City. The Utes also beat the Huskies (47-12) for the first time in 2017 following four straight losses.
Trailing 4-2 going into the last of the third, the Utes, the designated home team, got the inning started on a walk to Alyssa Barrera by Taran Alvelo (31-7). Hannah Flippen then sacrificed Barrera to second but reached safely on a costly throwing error by Kirstyn Thomas. On the play Barrera took third and scored when Anissa Urtez popped a double down the right field line that dropped just fair. Kelly Martinez walked to load the bases and bring Heather Bowen to the plate. A wild pitch allowed Flippen to score for a 4 all tie and the other runners to move up a base. Bowen sent Trysten Melhart to the wall in right field to catch her sacrifice fly, scoring Urtez and giving Utah a 5-4 lead. Kay Kay Fronda then smacked a long single off the wall in right to score Martinez and make it 6-4.
That knocked Alvelo out of the circle in favor of Samantha Manti. Manti hit Delilah Pacheco with a pitch to put runners at first and second. Castaneda then came up to bat and fell behind in the count 0-2 before hitting a high fly ball that just cleared the wall over a leaping Kelly Burdick in dead center field for her third homer of the season and a 9-4 score.
That homer proved the difference as the Huskies whittled away at the lead.
WIth one out in the top of the fourth Sis Bates reached on an error by pitcher Katie Donovan (18-9). Casey Stangel then singled to right. Bates had apparently advanced to third but got called out for oversliding the base, much to the disgust of the crowd which jeered the umpires lustily. That would loom large as Morganne Flores walked and Taylor Van Zee drilled a 3-2 pitch to the wall for a double to score Stangel and Flores and make it 9-6.
In the sixth the Huskies made it 9-7. Flores singled into the hole at short. Amirah Milloy pinch ran and moved to second on a Van Zee single. Melhart walked with two outs to load the bases and bring up Thomas. She sent a charge through the crowd when she drove the first pitch from reliever Miranda Viramontes well over the wall in left field. Unfortunately for the Huskies the ball went foul by about 10 feet. The count went to 2-2 and Thomas barely fouled off another pitch before hitting a dribbler down the third base line for an infield single to score Milloy.
The Huskies and their fans could not have asked for a better scenario than to have the top of the order coming up in the seventh to stay alive and avoid the if necessary game. Ali Aguilar drove a 1-2 pitch from Donovan into the gap in left center for apparent extra bases but Fronda made a terrific running catch. Bates then doubled to right center to re-energize the crowd and bring up Stangel. A wild pitch sent Bates to third, and with chants of "Casey Stangel" echoing throughout the stadium she almost delivered the game tying home run when she sent a 3-2 pitch deep to left.
Unfortunately, Fronda had just enough room at the wall to make the catch. Bates scored on the sacrifice fly to make it 9-8. Flores, who hit her third homer in the third, then came up to bat and grounded out to second to send the series to .
The Utes scored first and went up 2-0 in the bottom of the second on a two run homer by Martinez, her second of the series and eighth overall. Washington came back with four runs in the top of the third to go up 4-2. Flores followed a Stangel single with a home run over the wall in left center, her 13th of the season.
Van Zee waked and Julia DePonte hit a 1-0 pitch just over the 220 marker in center for her sixth homer and a 4-2 Husky lead.
Neither starting pitcher had a night to remain in the circle. Donovan got the win despite yielding seven runs, all earned, on eight hits and five walks in four and two third innings, She struck out three.
For Washington, Alvelo lasted only two and two third innings, giving up seven runs, three earned, on five hits and two walks. She struck out one.