OMAHA, Neb. — With one out in the eighth inning and his LSU baseball team down two runs in the College World Series finals opener, third baseman Josh Smith made the hit of the night. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t have time to celebrate.
Smith drove in LSU’s third run in the Tigers’ 4-3 loss Monday with an eighth-inning single that plated right fielder Greg Deichmann from second. Sensing where the ball was in the outfield, Smith attempted to take second base, trying to stretch a single into a double. Florida center fielder Nick Horvath made a great play on the ball and relayed it in to second, punching Smith out.
Instead of having a man on second base with one out, LSU had no one on base with two outs. The Tigers didn’t put another runner on base for the rest of the game. Smith was the last and his decision to take third looked like a blunder to remember.
Except it might not have been.
“I just went back and watched it,” Smith said from the locker room after the game. “I was safe.”
Horvath ➡️ Dalton = 👊OUT!
— Gators Baseball (@GatorsBB) June 27, 2017
It was as close of a play as you’ll see. Smith slid in headfirst and swam his right hand back to attempt to slide in with his left hand. Shortstop Dalton Guthrie put the tag into Smith’s body and, from second base umpire Danny Collin’s vantage point, Guthrie made the tag.
According to the rules of college baseball, that’s not a reviewable play. The call on the field has to stand. But we have the power of replay. So, you can decide what you see. First, from the left side:
Then, from the right side:
Even if the play was reviewed, it would’ve been a tough call. When you look at the two angles back to back, you maybe see a little bit of daylight between Guthrie’s glove and Smith’s jersey. What doesn’t help the matter is where Collins was standing, directly behind Guthrie.
Collins had no way of seeing where the ball came in. All he had to go off of was timing. And Horvath’s throw from center field was perfect. Had Guthrie’s tag been where it was supposed to be, the play wouldn’t have even been close. But Collins made the tough call and he ruled Smith out.
Even if there had been MLB replay rules, the video likely would’ve been inconclusive. It’s so hard to tell. Just ask LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri.
“You know, the ball beat him,” Mainieri said. “I don’t know if Josh with his swim move got around it or not. I haven’t seen the video of it. But I think a lot of people thought he was safe. But I couldn’t tell from where I was.”
The LSU baseball team returns to action Tuesday night versus Florida with its season on the line. Check back to SEC Country all day Tuesday for live updates from Omaha.