This year's Men's College World Series has been a tournament of power: power pitching from the likes of LSU's Paul Skenes and Tennessee's Chase Burns, and power hitting from boppers including Florida's Wyatt Langford and Oral Roberts' Blaze Brothers.
But in a heavyweight matchup between LSU and Wake Forest on Monday night in Omaha, the game came down to a terrific defensive play in the infield. The play, and the result, have been questioned by fans and led to LSU head coach Jay Johnson defending his decision.
With runners on first and third and nobody out in the eighth inning, LSU looked poised to take the lead against the Demon Deacons. LSU's Cade Beloso chopped a grounder to third, and Wake Forest third baseman Brock Wilken somehow was able to get the speedy Tre Morgan at home for the out despite a tough angle.
Defensive WIZARDRY!! ????
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAABaseball) June 20, 2023
It might have been the best defensive play we've seen in Omaha, and it saved a very important run. LSU challenged the play, but Morgan was ruled out. The Tigers wound up scoring no runs in the inning after Gavin Dugas hit into a double play following the out at home.
LSU fans on social media vented their frustrations, noting that if Morgan doesn't run on the play, LSU likely has the bases loaded and no outs, assuming Wilken wouldn't have been able to throw out Beloso at first.
Tre Morgan shouldn?t have gone bruh. Bases loaded no outs
— Conrad (@xC0NR4Dx) June 20, 2023
Really quick question. Why would tre morgan run right there?
— daddyfridge (@Daddy_fridge3) June 20, 2023
Why.. why are you running on that play Tre Morgan..
— Holden Lee (@holdhlee) June 20, 2023
It's not Morgan's fault, though his slide could've been away from the catcher a bit to help get his hand in safely. Morgan explained that it was a simple contact play — which means that as soon as the ball is hit on the ground, he heads home. It forces the defense to make a tough play if they want to get the out at home. Wake Forest did just that.
Tre? Morgan on that run from third: ?We were in red, which means I go on contact as soon as the ball was hit. Took off, I knew he was going to have an awkward throw. So I kind of tried to get a little bit over to get to the plate. But he made a great play.? #LSU
— Leah Vann (@LVann_Sports) June 20, 2023
After the game, Johnson defended the decision to run the play and send Morgan with nobody out.
"We are going, because if he doesn't go, then we're going to hit into a double play and it makes it really difficult. Now you have a man on third standing there with two outs. Now you need a base hit. So it's very simple baseball, actually," he told reporters.
Jay Johnson explains why Tre Morgan was sent from 3rd base on contact in the 8th inning against Wake Forest: pic.twitter.com/JgbnMG5exS
— 104.5 ESPN (@1045espn) June 20, 2023
In theory, that makes sense. But a ground ball to the third baseman seems like a pretty good candidate for an exception to that rule. A grounder to short or second? Definitely send Morgan home. It's a longer throw if Wake Forest wants to pass up the double play and try to get Morgan.
Wake Forest took the lead in the bottom half of the inning and won the game 3-2. The Demon Deacons will take on the winner of Tennessee and LSU, who play Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET.
Want More Sports News?
Get the biggest and best sports news sent directly to your inbox.