A chilly night in Lexington, Kentucky wouldn’t stop Brady Singer. The junior struck out 10 and didn’t allow a hit after the fourth inning to earn his eighth win of the season as the Gators beat Kentucky 11-2.
The Florida offense was befuddled in the first two innings. Kentucky starter Zach Haake commanded three pitches to retire the first six batters he faced, including three strikeouts but wouldn’t return to the mound in the third. Head coach Nick Mingione elected to go with a new arm in the third and seven pitchers in total Thursday. Mingione told ESPN that Haake could come back and throw again this weekend, but the move didn’t pay dividends for the Wildcats in the series opener.
Mason Hazelwood took the mound in the third and promptly loaded the bases with two walks and a hit batter before he was replaced in favor of Alec Maley. Liput welcomed Maley with a double that plated two. Nelson Maldonado lofted a sacrifice fly to score Brady Smith and make the game 3-0 before a Jonathan India walk and a three-run home run by Wil Dalton to make the score 6-0. Dalton has 14 home runs this season, third most in the country.
Spotting Singer six runs is a recipe for success but the junior would falter briefly in the fourth inning with the score 7-0. With one out Singer got ahead of Luke Heyer but plunked the right fielder. Luke Becker made him pay with a double to cut into the lead 7-1. Becker moved over to third on a groundout and scored to make it 7-2 when Ben Aklinski singled.
Singer settled down and didn’t give up another hit the rest of the night, which lasted seven full innings before he was replaced by freshman Tommy Mace. On the season Singer is 8-1 with a 2.77 ERA and 73 strikeouts to just 15 walks in 65 innings pitched.
The Gators added another run in the fifth inning and one more in the eighth inning when Smith hit a shoulder high fastball high and into the night for his second career home run.
Brady Smith, my goodness. pic.twitter.com/pnhmThzOpr
— Nick de la Torre (@NickdelaTorreGC) April 20, 2018
The series will continue on Friday night with Jackson Kowar going up against the 2017 SEC Pitcher of the Year Sean Hjelle.
Jonathan India’s 24-game hitting streak ended on Thursday night. India was 0-3 with two strikeouts and two walks. India faced five different pitchers in his five at bats.