University of Florida

Pitching, offense fuel No. 3 Gators in win over William & Mary

Florida sophomore Brady Singer pitches during the Gators' series-clinching win over William & Mary on Feb. 18, 2017 at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville.
Florida sophomore Brady Singer pitches during the Gators' series-clinching win over William & Mary on Feb. 18, 2017 at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville. For the Miami Herald

In the top of the third inning on Saturday, Florida starting pitcher Brady Singer fired a sinking fastball across home plate. It was 97 mph.

Three pitches later, he recorded his third strikeout of the game.

Singer, the highly touted and hard-throwing sophomore making his first career weekend start for the No. 3 Gators, dazzled and mystified his opposition for five innings and the offense cracked the game open with 13 hits to give Florida a 8-1 series-clinching win over William & Mary at McKethan Stadium. UF (2-0) has now won all 10 season-opening series under coach Kevin O’Sullivan.

“It was fun,” Singer said. “It’s fun being out here on the weekend.”

Singer, a 6-5 righty, finished the game with six strikeouts, gave up just three hits and walked three more. The lone run he surrendered came on an RBI groundout from William & Mary’s Matthew Tilley in the second inning, set up by a leadoff single and hit-by-pitch earlier in the frame.

Like Alex Faedo on Friday, Singer struggled at points with his command. His fastball, which was comfortably in the 93-95-mph range for most of the game, would occasionally miss the plate. Of his 82 pitches, just 52 went for strikes. Outside of that second-inning run, however, Singer managed to work out of the jams he put himself in, stranding seven William & Mary (0-2) runners over his five innings of work. He left the bases loaded in the third.

“I think I was pretty good,” said Singer, who was the top prospect in the Cape Cod League this past summer. “I kind of wanted to go a few more innings, lower my pitch count. [I] could have pitched more efficiently, but at the end of the day, we got the win and we all played really well.”

Singer followed with three scoreless frames before the trio of freshman Austin Langworthy ( 2 2/3 innings), senior Frank Rubio ( 1/3 inning) and freshman Andrew Baker (one inning) closed the door with four scoreless innings. The three struck out four batters while giving up just three hits and not drawing a walk.

Through two games this season, Florida’s bullpen, which was viewed as one of the question marks of the team heading into the year, has allowed just five hits while striking out nine in eight scoreless innings.

“It was good to see,” said O’Sullivan, whose team goes for the sweep on Sunday.

O’Sullivan was also pleased overall with his freshmen. In addition to his work on the mound, Langworthy recorded a pinch-hit single in the sixth and stole his first career base. Keenan Bell, a power-hitting lefty, recorded a pinch-hit RBI single in the seventh on his first career at-bat. And Baker needed just 11 pitches to retire the side in the ninth.

The offense as a whole didn’t disappoint either. Eight Florida batters recorded hits in the win, with sophomore Jonathan India and junior JJ Schwarz leading the way with three each.

The Gators go for the sweep on Sunday. Sophomore Jackson Kowar will start the game on the mound for Florida. First pitch is set for 1 p.m.