Photo by Danny Parker

Brady Singer’s turn to dominate the Canes in Gators' 2-0 series clincher

Florida sophomore pitcher Brady Singer was on the bench last night watching fellow starter Alex Faedo throw 8.2 innings of shutout baseball against the No. 17 Miami Hurricanes. Singer must have wanted to try and one-up the junior Faedo and incredibly almost did as the No. 2 Florida Gators topped Miami 2-0 in front of 6,160 at McKethan Stadium, the second largest crowd in Florida history.

Singer threw 7.2 innings, and while he gave up five hits and three walks, he struck out a whopping 11 batters on the night showing flashes of that competitive spirit that head coach Kevin O’Sullivan loves from his guys on the mound.

The Gators (4-1) meanwhile struggled at the plate with Miami (2-2) starting pitcher Jeff Bargfeldt allowing just three hits in his six innings of work. But, junior Mark Kolozsvary and sophomore Jonathan India added identical solo left field homeruns in the third and sixth innings respectively to give the Gators the score differential and the series win with the last game of the matchup coming Sunday.

Kolozsvary got the Gators on the board first as the DH in Saturday’s contest when he opened the third inning with 2-1 shot that cleared the left field wall. Three innings later, India continued his power play so far this season as the team’s leader in extra base hits with a two-out, first-pitch dinger in the same spot in the left field.

From that point on, it was up to Singer, junior Nick Horvath, and senior Frank Rubio to finish off the Hurricanes for the first time any team in the series has shut the other out in back-to-back games. Horvath came in with two runners on in the eighth and struck out the one batter he faced, while Rubio came in for the second time in the series and went 1-2-3 in the ninth to finish the game.

O’Sullivan was excited about the atmosphere on the night.

“I want to say thanks to the fans, they were awesome tonight,” he said shortly after the game. “That was one of the best crowds we have had. I could tell they were really into the game. It was one of those games where there were a lot of emotions going back and forth.”

Some of that emotion came from Singer who was jawing back and forth with Miami left fielder James Davison who stole a couple of bases during the night, but as we know, never crossed home plate.

“I thought Brady was outstanding. He had a special fast ball tonight and threw just enough sliders to keep them honest, but he was really good. Nick came in and did his job getting the lefty in the eighth. Frank was awesome in the ninth. He got a couple of ground balls, sunk it, controlled the count and we played really good defense tonight… no errors.

With 11 strikeouts, Singer always seemed to be in control, even with runners on the base paths at times. With a fastball that moves all over the place, O’Sullivan kept going to the dominating pitch throughout the game.

“He’s got one of those fast balls where left handed hitters, it starts at their hip and kind of catches the inside corner,” O’Sullivan said. “He just was on fire tonight. You kind of get into a rhythm a little bit with the pitches and I didn’t want to overthink it and overdo it and it was working and obviously he has the ability to throw the slider at will for strikes and a really good changeup. Tonight was one of those nights his fastball was on and it was awfully hard to square up.”

Rubio is a guy that O’Sullivan knew he was going to count on Rubio and the senior sidearm thrower showed up big in both games so far this weekend.

“He was really good last night (as well),” O’Sullivan said. “We’re really proud of him. He’s a senior in our program and we only have two on our roster. It’s just good to see a guy like him who is a really good student. He does everything right on and off the field, but he’s got a different look and its 90-92. It’s very important for him to locate lefties tonight and he did.

Going to Rubio in the ninth, O’Sullivan moved Horvath back to center field and so if he needed the left hander to come in for a batter he could bring him back onto the mound. That wasn’t needed as he stuck with Rubio to finish things off.

“We had an option to bring Nick back into the ballgame against a lefty,” he said. “Davison was on deck, if Gregory Veliz had gotten on, they probably would have gone to Tackett. But, I wanted to leave Frank out there. I think he deserved to finish the ball game with a two run lead. He located some pitches and it should give him a lot of confidence moving forward.

Despite just three runs in the last two games and five in the last three (dating back to the 3-2 loss at Jacksonville, O’Sullivan believes the bats will catch up soon.

“We didn’t get a lot to show for in the number of hits, but we hit two homers and a double (by sophomore Deacon Liput) down the right field line,” he said.  We’re going to get the offense going, but awfully proud of the way we pitched and played defense and looking forward to getting the bats going tomorrow.

“I think our starting pitching has a chance to be special. Obviously Alex was unbelievable last night and Brady followed it tonight and we have Jackson Kowar throwing tomorrow. He threw great the first weekend. At some point we’ll have to start developing these younger pitchers and we will. Once we get this offense going and the way we play defense and those guys that pitch on the weekend for us, we have a chance to be really good. I am awfully proud of the way those first two games went with Alex and Brady.”

Florida and Miami square off Sunday for the last of the three game series. Sophomore RHP Jackson Kowar (1-0, 1.59 ERA) will throw for Florida and face junior LHP Michael Mediavillia (0-1, 8.1 ERA). The game starts at 1 p.m. and will be live on SEC NETWORK+.

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