Credit: UAA

Gators Prepare For SEC NCAA Regional Match-Up

A month and a half ago the Gators defeated Casey Mize and the Auburn Tigers 3-1 in the opener of a big time SEC series.

Saturday’s game will have way more implications as the two teams meet once again in the opener of the Gainesville Super Regional. With Brady Singer getting the starting nod for Florida, it will be a match-up between two players drafted in the first round of the MLB draft.

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Saturday’s game will be arguably the most talked about pitching match-up of the NCAA Tournament.

Singer, who was selected number 18 by the Kansas City Royals in the MLB draft earlier this week, out-dueled Mize in their first showdown back in April. He gave up one run over seven innings, striking out eight. Mize, who was the number one overall pick in the draft, did not disappoint either.  The Auburn Tiger pitched seven strong innings, giving up three runs and striking out 10.

Gator head coach Kevin O’Sullivan says that his team needs to make sure they get quality at-bats against the Auburn ace.

“It comes down to having some really good at-bats, the three or four pitch strikeouts can’t happen,” O’Sullivan said. “You’ve gotta grind out your at-bats even though you may not have the success you want to have.”

Earlier this week, both Singer and Mize were both named Golden Spikes Award finalists as well.

How The Gators Got Here

As an NCAA Regional host, the Gators defeated Columbia, Jacksonville and Florida Atlantic to advance to the Super Regional.

Columbia and Jacksonville didn’t give Florida a challenge for the most part as UF seemed to be in control in those ballgames. FAU gave the Gators a scare as they were able to win the first match-up and force a deciding game. At one point, Florida was in danger of getting eliminated as the Owls got out to a quick 2-0 lead to start the game. The Gators stormed back as they scored five unanswered runs to win 5-2.

How The Tigers Got Here

Unlike UF, Auburn was never really in danger of getting eliminated.

The Tigers dominated in the Raleigh Regional as they defeated Northeastern, Army and regional host N.C. State. Auburn couldn’t stop hitting the ball as they outscored their opponents 40-12 in regional play.

O’Sullivan believes that the way to slow down the Auburn bats is by executing.

“It’s just execution, bottom line,” O’Sullivan said. “It’s Singer-Mize, Mize executes and we will have difficulty scoring, same thing goes with Singer.”

What They Are Saying

O’Sullivan says the team is excited to get back on the field following their regional success. He says that they realize they are two wins away from another trip to Omaha.

“We had a really good practice Wednesday and Thursday, the guys seemed energetic this morning and why wouldn’t they be,” O’Sullivan said. “You have a chance to go to Omaha, you’re two wins away.

Wil Dalton says that the team will have to be ready to play come Saturday because Mize has four effective pitches in his arsenal.

“It’s all about going up there and taking what you can get,” Dalton said. “Be ready to hit, he’s going to come after you.”

Deacon Liput says that the off day that the team got before their two days of practice really help the ball club reset mentally.

“We’re definitely really focused, we’re ready to go,” Liput said. “All of us got together and had a team meeting and talked about everything so we’re very closed as a unit and we’re ready.”

How To Watch

First Pitch from McKethan Stadium is at noon. The ballgame will be televised on ESPN and can be heard on the Gators IMG Sports Network.



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