Brady Singer was standing on the mound in the bottom of the seventh inning after Louisville had loaded up the bases on a five-pitch walk.
He had let up a run earlier in the inning, and the tying run was at the plate. The Cardinals could get back into the game with just one swing.
But Singer was calm. Despite feeling a little tired, the Eustis, Florida, native knew he needed to deliver some big pitches if he wanted to get out of the inning.
“I just had to fight through it,” Singer said.
And he did, getting Louisville center fielder Logan Taylor to hit into a fielder's choice, allowing Singer to get out of the jam and the Gators to keep a comfortable four-run lead.
“If I would have went to the mound to try to get him out of the game, he would not have given me the ball,” coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “It was that simple.”
Behind Singer’s strong seven innings pitched and nine strikeouts, the Gators defeated Louisville 5-1 on Tuesday night at the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska. Florida is just one win away from making it to the championship game.
Florida jumped out to an early lead in the top of the third when outfielder Austin Langworthy hit the left field foul pole for a home run.
In the next inning, a three-run blast from second baseman Deacon Liput over the right field wall extended the Gators’ lead to 4-1.
“I noticed he was establishing the fastball,” Liput said. “When I got the two strikes, my main goal there was to try not to do too much and not get beat by the fastball, and I was able to catch it out front and elevate the baseball.”
In the top of the seventh, Liput, who went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and a walk, hit a single through the right side of the field before being brought in by a Mike Rivera double to right centerfield. UF had a chance to blow the game wide open with no outs in the innings but failed to tack on more runs.
It didn’t need to, however, as it was backed by strong pitching performances. Nick Horvath relieved Singer in the bottom of the eighth, and he got two outs on the Cardinals before Brendan McKay hit a double to right field.
Tyler Dyson came in to close out the game with two outs in the eighth. The freshman from Bradenton, Florida, allowed no hits and struck out two batters to secure the win for the Gators.
Florida will play the winner of the elimination game between Louisville and TCU. Jackson Kowar will get the start and the game will be on June 23 at 8 p.m.
“We're excited we're 2-0,” O’Sullivan said. “We're not foolish to not know that we have a long way to go in this thing. And there's three really good teams left in our bracket. And we're not going to take anything for granted.”
Contact Jake Dreilinger at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @DreilingerJake.
Florida pitcher Brady Singer pitches during UF's 6-2 loss against Bethune-Cookman in the NCAA Regional on June 4, 2017, at McKethan Stadium.