Florida is hoping its pitching and defense formula will continue to fuel a deep run in the College World Series.
The third-national seed Gators (48-18) will next face seven seed Louisville (53-10) today at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb. ( 7 p.m. ESPN).
Florida advanced to the winner’s bracket following a 3-0 win over TCU on Sunday night. Junior righty Alex Faedo and sophomore righty Michael Byrne combined for UF’s first shutout in a CWS game since 1991.
Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan said sophomore righty Brady Singer (7.5, 3.29 ERA) will start against Louisville.
Singer pitched six scoreless innings in UF’s Super Regional series against Wake Forest. He’ll face a Louisville lineup led by two-way standout Brendan McKay, who is batting .340 with 17 home runs and 56 RBIs. As a team this season, Louisville is batting .290 with 70 home runs.
“It just comes down to our guy on the mound,” O’Sullivan told reporters following UF’s win in Omaha on Sunday night. “And if he executes, we’ve got a chance. If he doesn’t, you know, we won’t be successful.
“But I do know this: If Brady throws like he’s been throwing as well as, he’s similar to Alex, he’s been a little bit different the last couple of weeks as well, so we’ll see.”
In its third straight trip to the College World Series, Florida won its first game in Omaha since 2015 after going two-and-out last year.
“It’s definitely a little sigh of relief,” Florida shortstop Dalton Guthrie said. “And you don’t want to start out playing from the loser’s bracket and have to play — I think it would be four games to get into the finals. Getting the first one out of the way is the biggest one. It’s nice to be on the right side of it this time.”
A win Tuesday night would put Florida in strong position to reach the CWS Finals Series for the first time since 2011.
“Going two and out was tough on us, the whole team, coaching staff, everything,” Faedo said. “But I think once we got back to Gainesville, didn’t take too much time to get to work, and we remember especially the juniors and seniors that were here freshman year, or my freshman year, when you win here, it’s just — it’s no feeling like it. So we’ve been putting a lot of effort to get back on the winning side of things.”
Florida didn’t have its cleanest game in its opening win against TCU. Guthrie had a pair of errors, uncharacteristic for UF’s slick fielding shortstop. The Gators left 10 runners on base, but did enough offensively, scoring on a JJ Schwarz RBI groundout and RBI singles from Christian Hicks and Nelson Maldonado.
Maldonado was forced to leave the TCU game in the eighth inning after rolling his ankle, but O’Sullivan said he should be fine for the Louisville game.
“We played uncharacteristically (on) defense, we made some errors,” O’Sullivan said. “But I think the first game out here you get some nerves and stuff like that and I’m sure we’ll be better as we move forward.”
Contact Kevin Brockway at 352-374-5054 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Brockway’s blog at Gatorsports.com.