Brady Singer put on a show.
Scouts peered through the netting behind home plate at the UF right-hander. Equipped with speed guns, stop watches and note pads, they studied his every move.
Singer didn’t disappoint. Though his first strikeout came on an 83-mph slider to the second man up for Rhode Island, the junior from Eustis, Florida, turned on the gas to get the next batter swinging late at a 94-mph fastball.
Singer’s dominance and an onslaught of offense from the Gators (13-3) handcuffed URI on the way to a 9-0 Florida win at McKethan Stadium Friday night.
Singer’s first six strikeouts on the evening came on swings from Rams batters. He mixed in his off-speed pitches early with his devastating fastball.
Singer said command of all of his pitches felt better against Rhode Island than it had all season.
“I threw a lot more (changeups) than I have all year long,” Singer said.
The right-hander ended his evening after pitching seven innings and striking out eight while allowing just two hits to URI. His eight strikeouts were evenly divided in fastballs and off-speed pitches.
“He worked awfully hard this weekend trying to get the ball down in the zone a little bit more,” coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “I thought he was really sharp.”
With Singer dealing on the mound, the Gators took advantage of the Rams from the plate as well. Florida put a runner on base in every inning and only struck out six times as a team.
The bulk of UF’s damage to URI came in the fourth inning. After an Austin Langworthy walk and a single from Nick Horvath, shortstop Deacon Liput grounded a soft dribbler back to the pitcher. However, the throw to first baseman Brett McManus was high and lifted McManus off the bag, allowing Liput to reach safely while Horvath and Langworthy advanced. After a strikeout from right fielder Wil Dalton, designated hitter Nelson Maldonado made his way to the batter’s box with the bases loaded.
The first — and only — pitch Maldonado saw was an 88-mph fastball up in the strike zone, which he demonstrably deposited into the parking lot behind the left-field bleachers for a grand slam.
“It felt great off the bat,” Maldonado said. “I was just hoping it kept carrying.”
After Singer exited the game in the seventh, sophomore Nick Long and freshman Connor Churchill came on in the eighth and ninth, respectively, to close the door on the Rams without allowing a hit.
Singer’s dominant performance comes on the heels of a less-than-stellar outing last week against Stony Brook in which he allowed five runs (three earned) through seven innings.
Jackson Kowar will get the start in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader while Tyler Dyson is slated to start the second. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. and Game 2 will be 30 minutes after Game 1 ends.
While Singer’s previous start wasn’t spectacular by his own standards, O’Sullivan didn’t think much of it through the week.
“It’s not like I’ve gotta pull him into the office and tell him, ‘Hey, you’re not pitching up to your capabilities,’” O’Sullivan said. “He knows.”