It’s a prizefight that that would have UFC President Dana White salivating over, a matchup that sells itself.
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft Casey Mize will toe the mound Saturday at noon with the No. 18 overall pick Brady Singer opposing him. The two have squared off before, with Singer taking the decision earlier this season in April. Mize won the 2017 meeting when Auburn bested Florida 2-1 at Plainsman Park. Singer got the best of Mize and Auburn this season at home.
Both pitchers entered the season being talked about as the potential first overall picks. Mize got that nod when the Tigers selected him first overall but the two have been identically dominant in their careers, especially when they square off against each other.
Mize vs. Florida: 1-1, 14 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 18 K, 1.93 ERA
Singer vs. Auburn: 1-1, 14 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 12 K, 1.93 ERA
The final act of the trilogy will come straight out of a Western, at high noon on the mound at McKethan Stadium. Both pitchers will be riding busses around the country playing minor league baseball soon, but each is trying to stave their professional careers off for a few weeks.
“I think it’ll be fun,” Mize said. “We’re just playing for a chance to go to Omaha, both teams are, but it definitely is great when you get to pitch against somebody of his caliber. I mean, he’s an elite pitcher. He’s a first-rounder. Yeah, he’s very talented, and you always enjoy competing against competitors.”
There was no gamesmanship on the part of either coach. Kevin O’Sullivan gave freshman Tommy Mace the nod last Friday to start the Gainesville Regional and Auburn manager Butch Thompson has gone with Freshman All-American Tanner Burns on the front end the last few weeks so Mize could throw on full rest.
Neither coach will gamble and save their ace Saturday.
“It really hit me at the SEC Tournament that we don’t have our guy on the mound to kind of set the tone for the weekend. I’m not saying I took it for granted, but I never really looked at it that closely,” Sully said after Singer missed two starts with a hamstring injury. “But he was 8-1 in his SEC starts. When you take Singer out. You look at Auburn. You take Mize out; it’s a totally different deal. You take their catcher behind the plate, who’s been their mainstay; it changes your club a little bit. That’s where we’ve been trying to focus in on.”
Mize was the top player selected in the 2018 Draft because of his repertoire. The junior righty throws in the mid 90s and has a collection of four pitches that he throws in any count without fret. He’s as polished as any pitcher in the country. Mize has walked just 12 batters compared to 151 strikeouts this season, so he will fill up the zone and challenge Florida. something the Gators know will be a challenge come Saturday.
You got your guys that have the tools to go and pitch in the big leagues but his stuff is so refined and so consistent,” outfielder Wil Dalton said of Mize. “It goes up there with Brady’s stuff also. Those are two guys that can go step in the in the big leagues right now and pitch. He throws everyone of his pitches for a strike, any count any time. He’ll pitch you backwards. He’ll pitch you however he wants to. He commands every pitch for a strike. That’s his biggest thing; he’s not going to walk you. He’s just going to fill up the count.”
Casey Mize vs. Brady Singer. pic.twitter.com/ynKRBatZKI
— Nick de la Torre (@NickdelaTorreGC) June 8, 2018
Saturday’s matchup will set the tone for the weekend. Florida is trying to repeat as Champions while Auburn is trying to earn its first College World Series berth since 1997.
Thompson and O’Sullivan know the stakes this weekend and that’s why each will roll out their ace in the first game.
You’ve gotta dance with the one that brought you and that’s exactly what O’Sullivan and Thompson are doing with their aces.