Florida baseball: Brady Singer and Gators cruise past Siena in season opener

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — After unveiling a national championship banner in left field and a flag in center to recognize the program’s first College World Series title, the Florida baseball team formally began its quest to repeat.

The No. 1 Gators got an ace-like performance from junior right-hander Brady Singer and more than enough run support to put away visiting Siena for a 7-1 season-opening win Friday night at McKethan Stadium.

Singer gave up only 1 unearned run, 2 hits and a walk over 7 innings while racking up 8 strikeouts, living up to the sky-high expectations he carries into this season.

While the defense failed him on Siena’s lone run, the Gators bats did their part.

Third baseman Jonathan India clubbed a home run in the fourth inning, right fielder Wil Dalton singled in a run in the sixth while second baseman Blake Reese doubled home another that frame, designated hitter Nelson Maldonado added to the lead with a two-run double in the seventh and shortstop Brady McConnell crushed a two-run homer in the eighth.

Singer, who is projected by Baseball America to be the No. 1 pick in the MLB draft this summer, made his debut as Florida’s Friday night starter on a day when 2017 ace Alex Faedo, the Most Outstanding Player from that unforgettable CWS run, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Singer threw 62 of his 89 pitches for strikes in dominant performance.

The lone blemish on his night was not his own as Siena score in the top of the sixth when a slow roller to short went under the glove of McConnell, Florida’s highly-touted freshman, with two outs.

That tied the game at 1-1, but the Gators retook control in the next inning.

JJ Schwarz led off the sixth with a double to left, took third on a Maldonado fly out and then came in to score the go-ahead run on a two-out single through the left side by Dalton, a JUCO newcomer.

Reese’s two-out double soon followed and the Gators were off and rolling.

And eventually, McConnell would add a more memorable highlight to his college debut when his high fly ball to left carried into the stands for his first Florida home run.

Another freshman, Jordan Butler, closed out the game with two scoreless inning, racking up 4 strikeouts.

Schwarz (2-for-3, 2 runs), Maldonado (2-for-4, 2 RBIs), Reese (2-for-4, 1 run, 1 RBI) and Nick Horvath (2-for-4, 1 run) had multiple hits for the Gators.

Check back for a full recap and postgame reaction.

The post Florida baseball: Brady Singer and Gators cruise past Siena in season opener appeared first on SEC Country.

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