OMAHA, Neb. — Florida Gators pitcher Brady Singer has earned the right to manage himself. Within reason, of course.
Singer pitched a gem Monday night in the Florida Gators’ 4-3 win over LSU in Game 1 of the College World Series finals. The sophomore threw seven-plus innings, allowing 3 earned runs and striking out 12 batters, a new Florida record in the College World Series. And while Singer allowed 8 hits and surrendered 2 walks, he pitched his best when it came down to crunch time, stranding 7 LSU batters on the base paths with timely grounders and 3 inning-ending strikeouts.
Even the way Singer came out was impressive. After seven innings, Singer had thrown more than 100 pitches and easily could’ve come out having allowed 2 runs against one of the best offenses in the nation. But Singer petitioned Florida Gators coach Kevin O’Sullivan to let him face LSU right fielder Greg Deichmann, the team’s best power hitter and an All-America outfielder.
O’Sullivan relented and let Singer go back out to the mound. Singer followed that up by promptly allowing a double. So, O’Sullivan said enough was enough and went out to get his sophomore ace. But Singer wasn’t ready.
“He did try to talk me out of it again,” O’Sullivan said while laughing. “I said that was it. There were three or four stressful moments in that game that he had to battle through. That was that. … That’s what makes him [and fellow Florida Gators pitcher Alex Faedo] so good. They don’t want to come out of the game. But he had hit his wall. He had done everything he needed to do.”
Everything Singer needed to do included working out of a couple of truly difficult jams. His first speed bump came in the bottom of the fourth inning when LSU left fielder Antoine Duplantis and Deichmann led off with back-to-back singles, putting a man in scoring position with no outs. But Singer was unfazed.
He faced Zach Watson. Strikeout. He faced Josh Smith. Strikeout. He faced Beau Jordan. Strikeout. Inning over. Threat over.
“I knew I needed a strikeout for the first out,” Singer said of the jam. “I knew a ground ball would advance them. Ultimately, I needed a strikeout and I ended up getting three strikeouts, which was just icing on the cake.”
So much of Florida’s College World Series pitching can be described as “icing on the cake.” Singer and Faedo have combined to throw 28 1/3 innings across 4 starts and have allowed 4 runs with 43 strikeouts. That’s an ERA of 1.27 and 13.7 strikeouts per nine innings.
O’Sullivan said he expected his dueling aces to pitch well, but he couldn’t have anticipated the degree of that success. Still, it’s hard to be surprised when you’re dealing with talents like Faedo’s and Singer’s.
“These are really talented pitchers that we have,” O’Sullivan said. “We’ve been fortunate to have a lot of good ones over the years and Alex and Brady have been as good as any two we’ve had. They’re very, very competitive, you can tell.”
Because of that competitiveness, Florida needs just one more win to bring a national championship trophy back to Gainesville for the first time in program history. And O’Sullivan will call upon Tyler Dyson to start Game 2.
Who’s Dyson? Oh, he’s just the next guy in line, O’Sullivan said.
“It’s a different stage for him, but I know he’s excited,” O’Sullivan said. “You guys will see. He’s very talented. He’ll have to be on his A-game, of course, but it’s going to be a fastball in the mid-90s. Sometimes up to 97 or 98, with a slider that’s 87 or 88 and a feel for a changeup. How he’ll handle this environment, I don’t know. But he’s the next big one to come through our program. That’s what they look like.”
The Florida Gators baseball team returns to action Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET. Stay posted to SEC Country all day Tuesday for live updates from Omaha as the Gators attempt to clinch the first national championship in school history.