The No. 1 Florida Gators (46-18) are now one win away from the College World Series after defeating the Auburn Tigers (42-22) by a score of 8-2 in Game 1 of the Gainesville Super Regional.
This game featured a highly anticipated rematch between the No. 1 overall draft pick Casey Mize (10-6, 3.30 ERA) for Auburn and the No. 18 overall pick in Florida's Brady Singer (12-1, 2.30 ERA). Similar to their April 26th meeting in Gainesville, Singer was again the victor as he earned his 12th win of the season.
The junior right-hander was fantastic in his 6.2 innings of work. He allowed just two earned runs on four hits, struck out nine, walked two, and hit two batters. At 119 pitches with a runner on first and two outs in the top of the sixth inning, Singer was pulled in favor of freshman Jordan Butler with a 7-2 lead.
As Singer walked to the dugout, the Florida Faithful gave him a standing ovation. In his final start at the Mac, he had just out-dueled the No. 1 overall pick for the second straight time.
When play resumed, the left-handed Butler struck out his lone batter to snuff out any rally. In the eighth inning, junior closer Michael Byrne entered for the six-out save. He would work a perfect eighth and finished the inning with two strikeouts.
After getting an insurance run, Byrne returned for the ninth with now a 6-run cushion. He notched his third consecutive strikeout and induced a fly out before hitting a batter and giving up a double. Byrne would not get rattled, however, as he struck out the next batter for the final out of the game and a 1-0 series lead.
Despite an early 2-0 deficit and one of the best pitcher's in America on the mound, Florida's offense would answer the bell as they exploded for eight runs on 10 hits. The Gators put up a four-spot in the third inning, scored two in the fifth, and tacked on one additional run in both the sixth and seventh innings.
Five Gators had base hits with four of them having multi-hit games. At the top of the lineup, junior shortstop Deacon Liput went 3-5 with a solo home run in the seventh inning, two runs scored, and an RBI. Right behind Liput in the two-hole, junior designated hitter Nelson Maldonaldo went 2-5 with a solo home run in the eighth inning, two runs scored, and an RBI.
In the six-hole, junior second baseman Blake Reese went 2-4 with a stolen base. Rounding out the multi-hitters from the seven-hole, sophomore first baseman Keenan Bell went 2-3 with a double and a run scored.
Junior right fielder Wil Dalton was the only Gator without a pair of hits in the contest, but still contributed as he went 1-2 with two runs scored, two RBI's, and two walks.
Neither squad was perfect in the field as Florida committed one error and Auburn made two. The Gators' lone error came on a misfire from Brady Singer when he bobbled a ball hit back to him and then fired it down the right field line on his throw to first base. Auburn would not score a run off of this, however.
Auburn's pair of errors both came in the fifth inning and allowed two runs scored. The first was a throwing error from sophomore shortstop Will Holland that allowed Austin Langworthy and Wil Dalton to advance to second and third.
The second error came on the very next play. After a single to first that brought Dalton home, Austin Langworthy came in to score as well on a errant throw from senior first baseman Josh Anthony.
The No. 1 Florida Gators (46-18) looked like the No. 1 overall seed today as their ace threw a gem and the lineup lit up the No. 1 overall draft pick. Before previewing Game 2, here are my final tidbits on today's victory:
- This was Keenan Bell's 6th, Deacon Liput's 14th, Blake Reese's 16th, and Nelson Maldonaldo's 20th multi games of the season.
- Keenan Bell's double was his 11th of the year
- Deacon Liput's home run was his ninth of the season while Nelly's was his eighth of the year.
- Blake Reese's stolen base was his 11th of the season.
- Casey Mize's final stat line for his possible last collegiate game was five innings pitched, six earned runs on seven hits, a career-high four walks issued, and one hit batsmen. He tossed 94 pitches as Florida handed him his sixth lost of the season.
- Auburn's leading hitters were freshman designated hitter Eduoard Julien (1-3 with an RBI and a run scored) and Josh Anthony (2-3 with an RBI).
Now one win away from their fourth consecutive trip to Omaha, the Gators will go with junior right-hander Jackson Kowar (9-5, 3.37 ERA) to potentially close out the series. For Auburn, they will counter with freshman right-hander Tanner Burns (7-4, 3.12 ERA) to try and force a Game 3.
First pitch for Game 2 will again be at 12 p.m. ET and it can be seen on ESPN.
*All stats accredited to FloridaGators.com
*All stats accredited to FloridaGators.com
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