The Texas Tech Red Raiders will face the Florida Gators in the first game of the College World Series. This will be the second time these athletic programs have played each other in the postseason this year, as these schools faced off in the second round of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. The Red Raiders prevailed on their way to an Elite 8 appearance. In this game, Florida is the top seed and the defending champion of the college baseball world. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of this match-up between two elite teams.
The Gators will bring their ace, Brady Singer to the bump on Sunday. This guy has really impressive stats and has received many accolades. Singer has had an impressive couple of weeks, on and off the field, as he was drafted in the first round of the MLB Draft by the Kansas City Royals. He also received the Dick Howser Trophy, the baseball equivalent of the Heisman Trophy. He has a 12-1 record on the year with a 2.30 ERA in 101.2 innings of work this season. He has made 15 starts and will be very tough to get hits off of as he also leads the team with 107 strikeouts on the season.
Singer usually lasts 6 or 7 innings before turning it over to the bullpen. The one reliever I would look to see more than any in this tournament, especially in this first game, is Michael Byrne. He is their best reliever and also their closer as he has 15 saves on the season. Byrne has a 3-1 record and a very impressive 1.59 ERA in 34 appearances, all out of the bullpen. He will most likely be the one to come out of the pen in the 7th or 8th inning to close the game for the Gators. He pitched in all three super regional games last week, accumulating 6.1 innings. Do not be surprised if Byrne appears in three or four games this week.
The Red Raiders will counter with Dylan Dusek. Dusek has been moved to the starting rotation since the Oklahoma State series after the nine-day final break. Dusek has been hampered by a hand blister for a few weeks now but was healthy enough to pitch the final inning of the Red Raider’s 6-2 super regional clinching win over the Duke Blue Devils. Dusek is 3-0 on the season with 4 starts and 19 appearances. He also has a 2.03 ERA, the best on the team. He will be followed by Ryan Shetter, this has been the case in all four of Dusek’s starts and Shetter has been more than capable especially with the blister on Dusek’s throwing hand. Shetter has a 5-0 record with a 3.03 ERA. These two are not the absolute best pitchers on this staff but they are winners. They have zero losses between them this season and that is something to look forward to tonight.
The Gators do not only have a great pitching rotation, but they have a great lineup that can put the ball in play. Leading them is third baseman Jonathon India. India is leading the team with a .354 batting average and 20 home runs. He bats third in the lineup and is Florida’s best hitter. It’s no surprise to anyone that India was selected 8th overall in the MLB Draft two weeks ago. The Gators have so many good hitters but their cleanup hitter, right fielder Wil Dalton, can sometimes be more dangerous than India. Dalton leads the team with 60 RBI on the season. Dalton is hitting .266, so he is more of a power hitter with 19 homers on the season.
The Red Raiders will be countering with an amazing lineup of their own. Gabe Holt was the star of the Lubbock Super Regional, as he had key hits in key moments in the series winner against Duke. He has been a bright spot in the top of the order. He has switched and played right field for the postseason after playing second for most of the regular season as Brian Klein has been moved over to second base. You also can’t forget about the players batting third and fourth, Jung and Little. These two guys have been on a tear throughout the season and they are not looking to stop now. Both have been given multiple All-American honors through different organizations over the past few weeks. They lead this offense in almost every statistic and will be hard to stop.
So the big game is tonight folks, what do you think? Can the Red Raiders defeat the defending champs? Let us know in the comment section below!