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WCWS: Knighten Home Run Proves Game-Winner in ‘Epic’ 17 Inning Marathon

Sue Ogrocki, The Associated Press
WCWS: Knighten Home Run Proves Game-Winner in ‘Epic’ 17 Inning Marathon

The Oklahoma Sooners are just one win away from winning their fourth national title in program history and their second consecutive WCWS crown. It took a marathon 17 innings to get there, but Patty Gasso’s squad managed to eke it out against the Florida Gators.

The game was the longest in WCWS finals history. It was the third-longest in program history for the Sooners.

At one point, it looked like it was over. And then they came back. Then, it looked like it was over again. Then: let’s do it all over again. Rinse, wash, repeat.

It was an exhausting game to sit and watch — to play or coach in the game was nothing short of a marathon performance. Oklahoma Sooners head coach Patty Gasso called the game “epic” and she might be selling it short:

“I don’t know what else — that was it. This is one of the greatest games I think in College World Series history, I would guess,” Gasso said. “It was like two heavyweight fighters throwing punch after punch. Florida just kept answering everything that we put out there, and we tried to answer back, and it was a game of will, a game of team, a game of character.”

The game breezed by through the better part of four innings — a pitcher’s duel as expected between Paige Lowary and Kelly Barnhill. Lowary was held scoreless until the bottom of the fourth, when an Aleshia Ocaso single drove Nicole DeWitt home to make the game 1-0.

As the Sooners have done all postseason long, they responded immediately, notching runs in the 5th and 6th innings to take a 2-1 lead.

Paige Parker relieved Lowary in the 6th inning, but that wouldn’t be the last of Lowary for the night.

Parker walked the leadoff runner in the 7th inning, putting the tying run on base for the Gators. Oklahoma was one strike away from ending the game in regulation until Sophia Reynoso hit a blooper double to left field. The hit would send Ocasio home from second and tie the game.

Florida pitcher Delanie Gourley came in, and she was virtually unhittable for her first 50 or so pitches. Little by little, though, the Sooners began to figure her out.

A Fale Aviu homer in the 12th inning plated her and Shay Knighten, bringing the lead to the Sooners yet again, 4-2.

But, again, down to their final strike, the Gators retaliated — this time on a double from slugger Amanda Lorenz that brought two runners home.

With Lowary back in the game, the Sooners were able to hold course despite the frustrating fact that the Sooners left the 15th and 16th inning with loaded bases but nothing to show for it.

Finally, though, in the 17th inning, the game broke wide open on a Shay Knighten home run:

 

That proved the game-winner for the Sooners.

The Gators rallied in the bottom of the 17th as they ahd done all game long, but ultimately fell short after plating one run.

The Sooners play the Gators again tonight at 7 P.M. CST at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.

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