CORAL GABLES, Fla. — The No. 1 Florida Gators (7-1) took the series with a 7-3 win over the Miami Hurricanes (5-2) on Sunday afternoon at Mark Light Field.
Sophomore starter Alex Faedo set the tone early for the Gators and was sensational all afternoon. Faedo threw 6.1 innings of hitless baseball, matching a career high in strikeouts (7) in just the first three innings before ultimately striking out 12.
“He gave us an emotional lift. You could tell early on that every pitch had a purpose and he wasn’t leaving anything in the tank,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “He was just outstanding.”
To help Faedo, Florida’s offense jumped on Miami starter Danny Garcia early. Dalton Guthrie was hit by a pitch to start the game and the shortstop was moved to second when Buddy Reed singled. A botched pickoff attempt sent Guthrie to third and he would score when JJ Schwarz grounded out to short for the second out of the first frame.
Guthrie added to the Gator lead in the second when his bases loaded singles scored two more runs, giving Faedo and Florida some breathing room.
“I think we had a balanced attack all weekend,” said O’Sullivan. “Dalton’s two-out hit there to drive in two was big.”
With a comfortable lead Faedo settled in. He struck out two batters to close the second inning and then struck out the side in the third. Three up and three down again in the fourth inning, ending with a strikeout before he would be tested in the fifth.
A week ago Faedo unraveled a little after an error. The fifth inning started off with an error from Pete Alonso, allowing Ruiz to move up to second. Willie Abreu line a ball right at Deacon Liput for the first out but Faedo wasn’t out of the weeds just yet.
Faedo fell behind Edgar Michelangeli but worked his way back to strike him out swinging. Faedo’s momentum on the last pitch carried him off the mound; he pumped his fist and got ready for Romy Gonzalez. When Gonzalez’s bat whiffed on a 2-2 offering Faedo let out a scream and another huge fist pump.
“I thought Alex really set the tone,” Dalton Guthrie said. “We just kind of fed off it and he did a great job for us, really.”
“Yesterday Miami played with really great emotion and I didn’t want that to happen again, where they took momentum early,” said Faedo. “I wanted to make sure that we had it the whole time.”
The score remained 3-0 until Mike Rivera’s groundout to second brought home JJ Schwarz in the sixth inning. Schwarz did his part in the seventh, tripling home Buddy Reed and Guthrie, then scoring a batter later on a Pete Alonso sacrifice fly.
Faedo kept the momentum in Florida’s dugout. He struck out two more in the sixth inning, running his pitch count up to 85. It’s early in the season, so when Faedo walked Zack Collins and got Jacob Heyward to fly out, O’Sullivan pulled his pitcher from the game with 95 pitches thrown. There was no push back from Faedo and Kirby Snead struck out to more Canes to end the inning.
Miami would come back and make things interesting in the ninth inning when Shaun Anderson entered the game, earning its first hit of the game in the ninth inning on a Christopher Barr bloop single. Ruiz would plate three Canes’ with a bases loaded single before Dane Dunning came in to record the final two outs.
“It’s nice to have a guy on Sunday grab the ball and grab the bull by the horns, so to speak, and say, ‘hey, I’m going to get after it,’” O’Sullivan said of Faedo. “Sundays, especially in our league, the series is going to be split and Sunday is such an important day. To have an emotional guy like that on Sunday bring that to the ballpark I think helps your club. Not many teams have a guy like him on Sunday. He’s pretty special.”
The No. 1 Florida Gators will travel to Orlando to take on The UCF Knights at 7 pm pm Tuesday night.