Freshman Deacon Liput’s two doubles, four RBI day, coupled with Alex Faedo’s seven strikeouts were enough to earn the No. 1 Florida Gators (3-0) a three-game sweep of the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles (0-3) on Sunday afternoon.
“That’s a very important thing,” Liput said of finishing the series off with a win on Sunday. “Especially when you come up against a very good FGCU program, it’s really easy to think you’ve won the series already (after two wins), but being a part of Florida baseball is so much more. It’s about finishing.”
Florida wasted no time getting on the board. Dalton Guthrie led the game off with a double and advanced to third on a Buddy Reed’s single. Reed swiped second and, with an open base, FGCU wanted no part of JJ Schwarz, walking him on five pitches. Two batters later Mike Rivera singled to center, scoring both Guthrie and reed. Nelson Maldonado flied out, setting the stage for Liput. The freshman, who looked like anything but during his first collegiate home stand, sent a fastball to the wall in right center, scoring two more runs.
With a comfortable lead Faedo put his head down and went to work. The sophomore gave up one hit but struck out two in the second, set the Eagles down in order the next two frames, including two strikeouts in the fourth.
“The bats came alive today,” Faedo said. “[The] offense did a really good job of getting the lead early for us and giving the pitchers an easy job.”
The offense got off to a fast start, but the bats quickly went cold. Florida sent 20 batters to the plate after Liput’s first inning double without earning a hit.
Faedo did his part to keep FGCU at bay but got into trouble in the fifth inning. Faedo plunked Corey Fehribach to start the inning and lost focus. A single and a double later Florida Gulf Coast was on the board. Kevin O’Sullivan went out to the mound to settle his pitcher down and it worked. Faedo earned a strikeout and a groundout to get out of the inning without taking any more damage.
“The thing about Alex is he’s a really, really, competitive kid,” O’Sullivan said. “Sometimes when you’re so tough on yourself and you’re so competitive you’re a little hard on yourself. I think it was a learning experience for him. It’s one of those things where you gotta move on and the most important thing is the next pitch. But I love his competitive spirit.”
The seventh inning stretch was just what the Gator bats needed. Florida exploded for six runs on five hits to extend the lead to 10-1. Florida and FGCU traded pairs of runs in the eighth and Scott Moss, who has missed the past two seasons due to injury, closed the game out in the ninth.