AUBURN — Game 1 of the Gainesville Super Regional will be a pair of aces.
Auburn head coach Butch Thompson announced Thursday his plan is to start ace right-hander Casey Mize (10-5, 2.95) against what is expected Florida's ace right-hander Brady Singer (11-1, 2.27) on Saturday afternoon.
In 15 starts this season, Mize has posted a 10-5 record and a 2.95 ERA. His 151 strikeouts not only lead the SEC and rank third in the country, but are also in the top five for most in a single-season in program history and the most since 1999. Dating to the beginning of last season, the Springville native has struck out 260 batters and issued only 21 walks.
The Detroit Tigers ended what was one of the worst-kept secrets in pro sports by selecting Auburn's junior right-handed pitcher Monday night with the top pick in the 2018 draft. Mize, who won the Saturday winners bracket game against Army in the NCAA Raleigh Regional, becomes only the fifth player in school history to be selected in the first round, joining a club currently occupied by Hall of Fame member Frank Thomas, pitcher Gregg Olson, pitcher Chris Bootcheck and outfielder/current Auburn hitting coach Gabe Gross.
Auburn lost the Thursday night and Saturday finale of its three-game regular season series against the Gators. However, it'll be interesting if Thompson chooses to stagger his ace No. 1 overall selection (Casey Mize) on a different day than Florida (45-18) will throw its first round selection and SEC Pitcher of the Year (Brady Singer). In the series opener, Singer outdueled Mize on April 26. Florida, which is the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament field, defeated Auburn 3-1 with the deciding moment being Florida power hitter Johnathan India hitting a Mize offering deep into the left field bleachers for a 2-0 lead that Auburn couldn't recover from.
"We're just playing for a chance to go to Omaha, both teams are," Mize said Thursday morning. "It definitely is great when you get to pitch against somebody of his caliber. He's an elite pitcher, he's a first rounder. He's very talented and you always enjoy competing against other great competitors."
Before his start in the Gainesville Regional last weekend, Singer had been out three weeks due to hamstring tightness. However, Singer showed little rust during Saturday night's 3-2 win against Jacksonville. Singer allowed just five hits over seven innings, two earned runs, one walk and struck out six batters, including three in the sixth inning.
"Brady Singer has been our #1 all year so I don't see any reason to change that now" - @GatorsBB Coach Kevin O'Sullivan— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) June 7, 2018
Singer's counterpart will be fellow 1st round pick and 1st overall pick Casey Mize. pic.twitter.com/wSicaL1vAH
"I thought he was very efficient," UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan said after his start. "I think he kept his temperament and emotions in check. It's his last start before the draft. I thought he performed great. He's a fierce competitor."
Singer, who was selected No. 18 overall by the Kansas City Royals, is expected to be followed by his future professional teammate Jackson Kowar (9-5, 3.37) as the 6-5 right-hander was selected by Kansas City with the No. 33 pick.
Auburn is expected to start freshman Tanner Burns (7-4, 3.12) in Game 2 of the super regional with both of the first games to start at 11 a.m. with the Game 3, if necessary, to start at 7:30 p.m. Monday.
This article is written by Matt Stevens from The Montgomery Advertiser and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.