Top pick Casey Mize struggles in perhaps college finale
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Casey Mize’s college career may have ended with one of his worst outings.
The overall No. 1 pick in the MLB draft from Auburn allowed six earned runs in a loss to top-seeded Florida in the NCAA baseball tournament Saturday.
Auburn coach Butch Thompson made clear that there’s no scenario in which Mize would return to the mound in the best-of-three super regional.
That means the Tigers (42-22) would need to win two straight against the Gators (46-18) to advance to the College World Series for Mize to get another start. Florida hasn’t lost consecutive games at home since April 2017.
So if Mize’s outing Saturday was his college finale, it was one he would like to forget.
Mize (10-6) allowed seven hits in five innings. He walked a career-high four and plunked a batter.
“With the five freebies, that probably covers about six, seven outings,” Thompson said. “I think that was the biggest thing for him.”
The hard-throwing right-hander was sharp in his previous start, a 12-1 victory against Army in regional play. But his struggles against Southeastern Conference competition continued against Florida.
In his last four starts against SEC opponents, Mize has given up 30 hits and 20 earned runs in 23 2/3 innings. He struck out 27 and walked seven, but failed to show the kind of command that prompted Detroit to make him the top pick Monday night.
“I didn’t throw a lot of strikes, and a I walked four guys and I hit one,” Mize said. “I don’t know when the last time was I walked four guys. I don’t know. I just couldn’t get ahead, couldn’t stay in the strike zone. ... I don’t know. I was leaving a bunch of stuff up and they were putting some good swings on balls. I just didn’t compete well.”
The Gators did most of their damage in a four-run third inning. Wil Dalton lined a bases-loaded pitch off the right-field wall, scoring two and tying the game. They added two more and really opened the game up with two more runs with the help of two errors in the fifth.
“No one’s perfect,” Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “I think sometimes we put too much expectations on these young guys. You’ve got to keep in mind they’re 21 years old still. He’s been unbelievable the entire year and really his career. ... I just think we just had some good approaches, and I think it’s that simple.”
Mize talked earlier this week about looking forward to pitching without draft distractions and felt as if he put all that behind him Saturday.
“Monday was a great day, but Tuesday I woke up with something else in mind, and that was today and this weekend,” he said. “I think I flipped a switch and I put in the work here for this and I just didn’t execute. But I think I really was focused on what we’re doing today and what we’re doing this weekend.”
Still, Mize had no idea what went wrong against Florida. The Gators are now one victory away from advancing to Omaha, Nebraska, for the fourth consecutive year.
“If I could put my finger on it, I probably would have figured it out,” Mize said. “But I don’t know. I just kept walking guys. I kept getting behind the count, so I don’t know. We’ll go back and watch some video. I’ll try to figure it out, but mid-game there wasn’t anything that I noticed or else I would have figured it out and changed it.”