OMAHA, Neb. — The Florida baseball team is one win away from history.
Behind a stellar performance from starting pitcher Brady Singer, the Gators defeated LSU 4-3 Monday night in the first game of the College World Series finals. With the win, Florida needs to win once in the next two days to earn the first national championship in school history.
“Brady was outstanding,” Florida baseball coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “Obviously that one inning I think with two runners on with nobody out and struck out the side was huge. Get 12 strikeouts tonight. Threw seven. I think it was probably similar to Alex Faedo’s start the other day where there was some tense moments where he had to make some big pitches, and he battled and gave it all he had.”
The Gators jumped to their first lead in the fourth inning. After Deacon Liput grounded out to first to start the frame, Dalton Guthrie, JJ Schwarz and Nelson Maldonado all drew walks, loading the bases and forcing an LSU pitching change.
Austin Langworthy popped out into foul territory versus LSU’s Nick Bush, driving in Guthrie and advancing Schwarz and Maldonado to second and third. Then Jonathan India supplied the big blast, smacking a ground rule double to straightaway centerfield, scoring two and giving the Gators a 3-0 lead.
“I was really excited for that situation to help my team produce some runs,” India said. “I was just hitting fastball. He threw a curveball the first pitch, it was in the dirt [then] got my pitch and drove it in.”
Florida baseball’s lineup picked up an insurance run in the top of the seventh. Langworthy led off with a double and India moved him to third with a sacrifice bunt. One batter later, catcher Mike Rivera singled Langworthy home with a rope up the middle, extending Florida’s lead back to two runs. Rivera has now driven in a run in four straight College World Series contests.
As for Brady Singer…
Brady Singer cruised through the first five innings, striking out nine batters and allowing just three hits with one walk. That stretch included two 1-2-3 innings and a fourth inning where he struck out the side after allowing back-to-back singles to open the frame.
“I knew I needed a strikeout for the first out,” Singer said of the fourth. “I knew a groundball would advance them. Ultimately I needed a strikeout and I ended up getting three strikeouts, which was just icing on the cake.”
LSU blitzed Singer a bit in the sixth inning though, scoring two runs on two hits, a walk and a hit batter. Singer allowed a home run to Antoine Duplantis, just the sixth home run Singer had allowed all season, and an RBI single after surrendering the walk and hit-by-pitch with two outs. The right-hander ended the fram by stranding two however, forcing LSU catcher Michael Papierski to pop out to Langworthy in left field.
Singer finished with 12 strikeouts, setting a new career high and breaking Florida’s single-game College World Series record, set earlier in the week by teammates Alex Faedo and Jackson Kowar. Singer allowed three runs with two walks on eight hits in seven-plus innings, throwing 113 pitches. In two starts versus LSU in 2017, Singer has allowed four earned runs in 16 innings with 16 strikeouts.
“I think they were a little bit more aggressive in Gainesville,” Singer said of the difference between the two outings. “I was able to go the whole game, but they had a lot of ground balls. The strikeouts were high today because I was able to get ahead. And I think the slider was working pretty well at the end in 0-2 and 1-2 [counts].”
After allowing a leadoff double to LSU slugger Greg Deichmann to open the eighth, Singer was replaced by closer Michael Byrne. Byrne allowed Deichmann to score on a one-out single, but kept the lead at 4-3 to end the frame.
Byrne tossed a scoreless ninth in order to earn the save, his 18th of the year.
What’s next for the Florida baseball team?
The Gators will return to action Tuesday night at 8 p.m. ET looking to bring a national championship trophy back to Gainesville for the first time. Florida baseball will like use Tyler Dyson as its starting pitcher Tuesday night.
The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN and available to stream through WatchESPN and the Watch ESPN App.