The Florida Gators (46-18) took down the Auburn Tigers (42-22) by a score of 8-2 in Game 1 of the Gainesville Super Regional Saturday afternoon. The Gator offense roughed up Auburn starter Casey Mize, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s MLB draft, and Florida is now a win away from its fourth straight trip to the College World Series.
Tigers Score First
Brady Singer was far from sharp early on, but he battled through a pair of situations that could’ve ended a lot worse than they did. In the second inning, Auburn’s first two hitters reached after Singer issued a walk to Jay Estes and then hit the following batter. The Florida ace looked as if he might get out of the jam after picking up consecutive strikeouts, but he gave up a two-out RBI single to Josh Anthony that put the Tigers up 1-0.
The following inning was just as much of a high-wire act. A walk, single and sacrifice bunt gave Auburn two runners in scoring position with just one out. Edouard Julien then singled home Steven Williams to give the Tigers a 2-0 advantage. The situation looked bleak for Singer but a strikeout and a flyout got him out the jam.
Gators Strike Back
The Florida offense got rolling in the bottom of the third. Back-to-back one-out singles from Nelson Maldonado and Deacon Liput followed by a four-pitch walk from Jonathan India loaded the bases for the Gators. Wil Dalton capitalized on the opportunity by hitting a 2-RBI single to right to tie the game.
Austin Langworthy then hit a dribbler down the first base line and India managed to beat out a throw to the plate on the play. One at-bat later, a Keenan Bell RBI single scored Dalton to give Florida a 4-2 lead.
In the bottom of the fifth, Florida capitalized on some sloppy Auburn defense. They pushed across two more runs as a result of two throwing errors. Mize did not come back out for the sixth. He allowed a career-high four walks and struck out five. Prior to Saturday’s start he had issued just 12 walks this season.
After the game, Mize cited a lack of fastball command as the main reason why he struggled.
The Gators then hit a pair of solo home runs, one in the sixth by Liput and another in the eighth by Maldonado, to make the score 8-2, the eventual final.
After the game, Liput said moving forward the team needs to take the rest of the super regional pitch-by-pitch and play mistake free if they want to find success.
Singer Settles Down
After struggling in the second and third innings, Brady Singer found his rhythm. He continued to battle and didn’t end up exiting the contest until the top of the seventh. He threw 119 pitches over 6.2 innings of work, gave up two earned runs on four hits and struck out nine Auburn hitters. Singer said being efficient after the rocky start was important as his pitch count was already over 70 after three innings.
After the game, he added that getting the four runs back in the bottom of the inning was huge.
Head coach Kevin O’Sullivan was impressed with how Singer bounced back after the tough start. “He settled in and battled all the way to the end,” O’Sullivan said.
Crowd on its feet as Brady Singer exits the game. Jordan Butler will take over with two outs here in the top of the seventh. pic.twitter.com/9Hk0IUYJKi
— Ryan McGinn (@Ry_McGinn) June 9, 2018
Jordan Butler struck out the only hitter he faced in the seventh. After that Kevin O’Sullivan turned to Michael Byrne to pick up the final six outs. The Florida closer hit a batter and gave up a double with two outs in the ninth, but he managed to keep Auburn off the board and shut the door.
The Gators will face the Tigers again tomorrow at noon. The game will be televised on ESPN and you can listen via ESPN 98.1 FM & 850 AM WRUF. The pitching matchup is expected to be RHP Tanner Burns (7-4, 3.12 ERA) for Auburn vs. Jackson Kowar (9-5, 3.38 ERA) for Florida.