BOZICH | Three Keys to Louisville beating Florida in College World Series
Florida is ranked ahead of Louisville in the RPI and four of five human polls. What are the keys to the Cards beating the Gators in the College World Series?
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- For the University of Louisville baseball team, the magic number is two.
Win two more games and the Cardinals advance to the finals of the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
But that magic number comes with an asterisk: It only works that way for Louisville if the Cards defeat Florida Tuesday at 7 p.m. (EDT) at TD Ameritrade Stadium.
If the Cardinals lose to the Gators, they'd have to rally through the losers' bracket and win three straight to get to the finals.
That's a long-winded way of saying this: Winning Game Two will make it considerably easier and simpler for Dan McDonnell's team to extend their stay.
So what is the key to handling Florida, which is ranked 2nd (behind Oregon State) in the Ratings Percentage Index and has won 10 of its last 13 games? The Gators are also ranked ahead of the Cards in four of five human polls.
Here are three keys to the game:
1. Rattle Florida pitcher Brady Singer
Although both teams used their aces on Sunday, the game features a dazzling pitching matchup.
U of L will start Kade McClure, the durable right-hander who won eight of 11 decisions and was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the sixth round last week.
McClure, a junior, has been solid and dependable for Louisville all season.
Florida is expected to start Brady Singer, a sophomore who is also a right-hander. Drafted in the second round by Toronto in 2015, Singer has been one of the best pitchers in the Southeastern Conference, leading the league in innings while featuring a 97 mph fastball.
After you finish reading this story, click on this link.
It includes a video of the temper tantrum Singer threw last week during the Super Regional in Gainesville when he learned that his start against Wake Forest would be delayed by rain.
Singer has a terrific arm. But consistency has been an issue.
He won two games in the Super Regional against Wake Forest, pitching four innings in one outing and two in the other. That's good.
But he lost his two appearances prior to the Super Regional, allowing 10 hits in 7 1/3 innings against Bethune Cookman and seven in one inning against Arkansas.
Combine those two performances with Singer's meltdown during the rain delay and Singer appears to be a guy who can be, well, distracted.
2. Score 4 or More Runs
Louisville has scored at least five runs while winning all six of its NCAA Tournament games.
If the Cards score five against the Gators, you have to like their chances.
In fact, if the Cards score four against the Gators you have to like their chances.
Florida is 48-18. In 12 of the Gators' 18 defeats they have scored three runs or less.
Florida came to Omaha hitting .262 as a team, ranked 205th in the nation.
Florida averages 5.5 runs per game. Louisville averages 7.3.
3. Score Early
Put pressure on the Florida offense. Don't let the Gators put the game in the hands of their formidable bullpen, led by Michael Byrne, who averages more than a strikeout per inning. Byrne has saved three games in the NCAA Tournament.
The Gators have one of the best bullpens in nation. Although Byrne struck out four in two innings against TCU Sunday night, he'll likely be available for an inning Tuesday. He has pitched at least two innings in his last six appearances.
If Byrne is not ready, Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan also uses Garrett Milchin, Tyler Dyson and Nick Horvath. Dyson is the toughest guy to hit from that trio, striking out 43 in 31 2/3 innings, while limiting opposing hitters to a .233 batting average.
"When you run our three starters out there and you've got a guy at the end and you've got a couple of other guys out there in the middle, then you just figure out a way to win," O'Sullivan told Mark Long of the Associated Press.
"I think people put too much emphasis on how you win. The bottom line as a coach is you try to look at your club and look at your personnel and say, 'How are we going to get this thing done?'"
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