Alex Faedo’s dominance leads Florida Gators past South Carolina

Major League scouts are easy to pick out at ballparks. A baseball cap, lightweight golf polo and a jacket thrown over the top of their bag, which holds a radar gun, stop watch, IPad and notebooks. They were especially easy to spot on Thursday night as more than 20 gathered for what promised to be a premium pitching matchup between Florida’s Alex Faedo and South Carolina’s Clarke Schmidt.

The two juniors, both projected to be early selections in the 2017 MLB Draft, didn’t disappoint the scouts that came to see them, matching zeros for most of the night, but it was Faedo that outlasted his counterpart, as Florida took the series opener 1-0 on Thursday.

“I think his performance kind of speaks for itself,” manager Kevin O’Sullivan said of Faedo after the game. “He was outstanding and he had to be against Clarke.”

Neither pitcher blinked through two hitless innings. Faedo was the first to surrender a hit, a leadoff single in the third inning, but struck out two and induced a popup to get out of the inning unscathed. The Gators matched South Carolina in the hit column in the third when freshman Keenan Bell singled through the right side; a sacrifice fly and a double play would end that inning for Florida as the two teams sped through the first four innings.

“The guy they were the throwing was really good, throwing the ball to both sides of the plate, changing speeds really well. Faedo was electric tonight,” said Bell. “It was really fun to watch.”

Bell had the most fun against Schmidt on Thursday. The freshman singled in his first plate appearance and then came back up for his second appearance with a runner on second.

“I just knew I needed to have a good at bat right there,” Bell said. “Do my best to come through for the team.”

A double play erased a leadoff walk in the fifth inning but Christian Hicks doubled off of the left field wall with two outs to keep the inning alive. Bell worked the count full against Schmidt before sitting back on a full count fastball, taking it back up the middle for a RBI single.

That run proved to be the only that Faedo would need. Faedo retired the next five batters he faced after getting the run support before a two-out walk to Madison Stokes. JJ Schwarz badly mishandled a ball at first but Faedo worked around the error. The junior right-hander worked through the eighth inning, walking off with 111 pitches.

“Sully asked me how I was feeling and I said good,” Faedo said of his conversation with O’Sullivan after the eighth inning. “He asked me if I wanted the ninth and I said, ‘yeah I think I can finish it out.’ He gave me the opportunity.”

Faedo retired the first two on seven pitches. He quickly fell behind to Alex Destino, which brought Dalton Guthrie and O’Sullivan to the mound, but taking Faedo out at that point wasn’t an option.

“I thought maybe they might have been on to something and with Destino up you don’t want him knowing the pitch or something,” Guthrie, who called the mound meeting said. “We just wanted to make sure we had everything squared away, talk about the pitch beforehand and make sure there’s no cheating to a fastball.”

Faedo wouldn’t get Destino, surrendering a walk, before he was pulled. His 8.2 innings pitched matched a career high and his 124-pitch count is the most he’s thrown in Orange and Blue and the fans rewarded him with a standing ovation as he left the mound.

Michael Byrne came on to relieve Faedo and picked up his seventh save of the season.

Faedo came one out shy of a complete game for the second time this season (8.2 IP vs. Miami 2/24) and has been apart of three one-run games this season; Florida has a 3-0 record in those such games.

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Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC