OMAHA, Neb — Florida Gators pitcher Brady Singer walked off the mound with a small vile filled to the brim with dirt from the mound at TD Ameritrade Park and a game used baseball. He found his mother, Jacquelyn, and handed her both.
When you throw seven innings and strike out a College World Series Final record with 12 strikeouts on your way to earning a win, you can do those kinds of things.
Florida stuck to its formula of dominant pitching and timely hitting to come away with a 4-3 win over the LSU Tigers, Florida’s first CWS Final win in school history.
Singer squared off against fifth year senior Russell Reynolds on Monday night and the two went two-to-two for three innings.
Dalton Guthrie, who was taken out of the game Saturday with back spasms and didn’t hit or field balls prior to the game Monday, walked on four straight with one out to get Florida’s rally starters. JJ Schwarz followed suit with a five-pitch walk and Nelson Maldonado worked a walk on a full count to load the bases. LSU manager Paul Mainieri came to get his starter. Freshman Nick Bush replaced him on the mound.
Austin Langworthy worked into a hitter’s count but fouled a pitch off deep behind third base and in foul territory. Kramer Robertson went after it, catching the ball while his momentum carried him away from home.
Guthrie was watching.
“I knew Kramer was going to catch it running back,” Guthrie said. “The shortstop is running back and I knew he would have to change it real quick and it would be tough. It was a for sure go.”
Robertson probably should have left the left fielder, who is running in towards the ball, catch it or let it drop. The senior caught it and tried to turn to blindly throw to home. There was no chance to get Guthrie but the throw home allowed Schwarz to advance to third and LSU forgot to cover second, allowing Maldonado to get there standing up. It was a mental error and Jonathan India made LSU pay when he launched a ground rule double to center field.
“I think we were a little bit unaware to not cover second base there and allow the other runner to tag and take second,” Mainieri said. “Turned out to be important because on the ground rule double, if he was at first base, only one run would have scored there.”
That gave the Gators a 3-0 lead and the extra run would prove to be priceless.
The Gators stole the momentum but LSU looked to take it right back in its half of the fourth inning.
Antonio Duplantis singled through the right side and Greg Deichmann followed suit with another single. That brought Kevin O’Sullivan to the mound but Singer knew what needed to be done.
“I knew I needed a strikeout,” Singer told Gator Country. “I need a strikeout. I knew a groundball would advance them so, ultimately, I needed a strikeout. Getting three was just icing on the cake.”
Singer bounded off the mound after that third strikeout and pumped his fist and celebrated with his teammates as the two stranded runners slowly walked back to their dugout, heads hanging.
Florida carried its 3-0 lead into the sixth inning where Singer struck out Cole Freeman to hit 10 on the game. Antonio Duplantis took a 2-1 fastball deep into the Florida bullpen to breakup the shutout and LSU wasn’t done in the inning.
Singer tied a career-high with 11 strike outs, getting Deichmann looking, but he hit Zach Watson and walked Josh Smith to bring the go-ahead run to the plate. Beau trimmed the lead to 3-2 with a single to left field before Singer could get out of the inning.
The Gators responded in the seventh.
Austin Langworthy doubled to right center and moved to third on a Jonathan India sacrifice bunt. LSU brought the infield in as Mike Rivera walked to the plate. LSU pitcher Nick Bush got ahead of Rivera 1-2 and tried to bury a pitch in the dirt but he left it up. Rivera stayed back on the breaking ball and lined it right back up the middle — textbook two strike hitting — to extend the lead to 4-2.
Singer came back out in the eighth inning to face Deichmann. Singer thought he should have gotten a called strike on a 1-2 fastball on the outside corner but home plate umpire Adam Dowdy disagreed. Deichmann lined a double down the third base line two pitches later and that was it for Singer.
Michael Byrne came out of the bullpen and quickly got Watson out on a popup to right field. Josh Smith singled home a run but Nick Horvath, a defensive replacement, gunned Smith out at second to keep the tying run off base.
“That changed the whole complexion of the ballgame, to be honest with you,” O’Sullivan said. “Now they’ve got a runner at second. They’re down a run with one out, and all the momentum is in their favor. And a play like that can just change the whole complexion of a ballgame. I think that was really big.”
Byrne retired the side in the ninth inning to earn his 19th save of the season.
Tyler Dyson (3-0, 3.55 ERA, 1 career start) will start for the Gators on Tuesday.
Jared Poché (12-3, 3.33) will start for the LSU Tigers.
Monday Game NOTES:
This was the Gators first win in a College World Series Final (0-4 previously)
Dalton Guthrie’s first inning single was his 10th career CWS hit — a new UF record
Brady Singer set a career-high with 12 strikeouts.
Singer’s 12 strikeouts are also the most any one pitcher has had in a CWS game.
Singer improved to 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA and 21 strikeouts in two starts at the CWS
The Gators have won 19 one-run games this season, most in the nation.
Michael Byrne’s 19 saves lead the country.