Houston’s stunning come-from behind 5-4 victory over LSU Sunday night had a little bit of everything.
Plenty of defensive gems. A rowdy Alex Box Stadium crowd.
And even a bit of controversy.
It came in the bottom of the seventh inning when LSU’s Tyler Moore hit a ball down the right-field line. Houston right fielder Kyle Survance threw his hands up to signal a ground-rule double when the ball appeared to be lodged under the gate. Conner Hale scored on the play, and Moore continued to round the bases.
First base umpire Adam Dowdy went to take a look, spotted the ball and ruled that it was indeed still in play.
After arguing, Houston coach Todd Whitting protested the call and NCAA officials went to a locker room near the third base dugout.
After about a 10-minute delay, NCAA officials backed the umpires decision and Moore was given an inside-the-park home run.
The Baton Rouge regional protest committee, made up of NCAA representatives Gary Overton, Warren Turner, umpire crew chief Joe Burleson and assistant crew chief Steve Mattingly, issued a statement about the ruling: “As a committee, we all got together (the committee) and determined that a judgement call was made and the ball was not lodged and remained live in play.”
Survance, who ended up delivering the game-winning hit, replied with a “no comment” when asked about what happened on the controversial play.
The play turned a 1-0 lead to a 3-0 lead for LSU.
In a game that started as a pitcher’s duel, the two-run swing looked as if it would be pivotal. But it seemed to have an adverse effect on the Cougars, who rallied after the play to keep their season alive.
“I thought it was momentum-changing,” Whitting said. “Obviously, we felt it was lodged. We went through the protest process and got denied. But looking back on that thing, it kind of jump-started us a little bit. We came back and responded after that. It is what it is and that definitely worked in our favor.”
It was the second controversial play on Sunday in an NCAA regional. In the Columbia regional game between South Carolina and Campbell, there was a dispute over a play involving batter’s interference. After a 12½-minute delay in which umpires consulted a rule book, officials determined that the umpires made the correct ruling.
Campbell initially protested, but it removed the protest after hearing the rule.
LSU Paul Mainieri didn’t think the play had much effect on the outcome of the game.
“I don’t think it had anything to do with anything,” he said.