Special to GC
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – A four-run second inning and a solid SEC debut by freshman right-hander Alex Faedohelped No. 10 Florida finish off a weekend sweep of No. 21 South Carolina, 12-2, on Sunday afternoon at McKethan Stadium.
The Gators (28-9, 9-6 SEC) swept the Gamecocks (23-14, 6-9) in a regular-season series for just the fifth time in school history and the third time under Kevin O’Sullivan.
Faedo (3-1) retired the first 14 batters of the contest before surrendering a fifth-inning double and set career bests and strikeouts (6) and innings pitched (5.2 IP). Freshman JJ Schwarz (2-for-4, three RBI) launched two more homers this afternoon, giving him seven for the week and a team-leading 12 on the season.
Florida batted .400 (44-for-110) over the three games and enjoyed a 38-10 scoring advantage, with eight doubles and seven homers.
The Orange and Blue jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the second inning against sophomore Taylor Widener (1-3) with four runs on four hits and an error. Senior Josh Tobias (1-for-3, three runs) extended his hitting streak to nine games with a leadoff single into left field and sophomore Buddy Reed walked before a fielder’s choice by Schwarz left runners on the corners.Freshman
Freshman Mike Rivera (3-for-5, two RBI) singled to left-center to score Tobias and sophomore Ryan Larson (3-for-5) legged out a bunt single to fill the bags. Freshman Dalton Guthrie brought home Schwarz with an RBI-single into left field and Rivera was able to score on the play due to a throwing error. Junior Richie Martin (2-for-3) lofted a sacrifice fly to left to plate Larson.
Schwarz started UF’s fourth with his 11th homer of the year to left field, his sixth round-tripper of the week and second of the series. Although Florida loaded the bases with one down on a single by Larson and walks to Guthrie and Martin, freshman Brandon Murray replaced Widener (3.1 IP, 6 H, 5 R) and induced an inning-ending double play.
Florida increased its lead to 7-0 in the sixth on consecutive RBI singles by Rivera and Larson. Reed was hit by a pitch with one down, stole second and then swiped third during a walk to Schwarz. Rivera drove in Reed with an infield hit and Larson collected his third hit of the day with base-knock into left field to bring home Schwarz.
Sophomore Gene Cone put the Gamecocks on the board with a solo shot in the sixth inning.
After a two-out walk to junior Max Schrock, Faedo was replaced by senior Bobby Poyner (2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R). The left-hander struck out senior Kyle Martin and the Gators responded with three more runs to build a 10-1 advantage, as Martin scored on a wild pitch and Reed roped a two-run, two-out double.
Schwarz cranked a two-run homer to left center in the eighth and Martin closed the scoring with a solo homer in the ninth for USC.
Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan
On sweeping South Carolina this weekend:
“I think we were seeing the ball well. It has been a contagious week. We haven’t done anything different other than staying positive with our guys. Hitting is contagious and we have a bunch of guys in the lineup that are swinging the bats well. You look at the box score and see that Mike Rivera had three hits and [Ryan] Larson had three hits. We are seeing a lot of contributions from a lot of different people, but jumping on the board early in the second [inning] was big. Obviously, the start from Alex [Faedo] was really good. He threw the ball really well. I could tell that he lost his release point in the sixth. They had so many left-handed hitters, but Bobby [Poyner] came in and did a great job. It was also good to get Taylor [Lewis] back out there. Overall, it was a great weekend for us. We swung the bats great and beat a very good South Carolina team. We are about halfway through the league and we probably needed a weekend like this.”
Freshman catcher JJ Schwarz
On hitting seven homers in one week:
“I think I am seeing it really well. I am continuing to see it well and that’s helping me a lot.”
Freshman right-hander Alex Faedo
On his first SEC start:
“I was feeling good about it. I was really pumped to get the opportunity. The older guys helped me prepare a lot for it and they gave me a lot of advice before the game. Throwing my breaking ball for strikes early in the count was keeping [South Carolina] off-balance.”
On facing JJ Schwarz in practice:
“You have to throw him what you think he’s not looking for because if you mess up, he hammers it. He doesn’t miss a pitch. You have to make sure you’re spot on.”
Sophomore right fielder Ryan Larson
On sweeping South Carolina:
“There was a sense of urgency to win the first game. After Friday night, we knew we had to win Saturday. Today, there was a big sense of urgency that we needed to take this series and sweep [South Carolina].”
Sophomore center fielder Buddy Reed
On the Gators’ successful weekend:
“We always want to win the series, but getting a sweep is a good feeling. We want to separate ourselves from the pack. Now that we’re 9-6, we’re up there with Vanderbilt and Missouri in the East.”
On the Gators’ increased offense after struggling at Missouri:
“We work so hard on the cages and in the field hitting. We talk with coach all the time about our approaches. It’s the way we handle it at the plate. We didn’t play well at Missouri. It’s baseball; we’re going to face adversity. We have to come out every day, work hard and get better.”
- Kevin O’Sullivan is now 19-11 (.633) against South Carolina, including a 10-2 (.833) mark in Gainesville.
- Josh Tobias increased his hitting streak to nine games, tying his career high.
- Richie Martin has racked up seven RBI over the last two games while hitting .625 (5-for-8).
- Alex Faedo retired 14 straight batters and threw a career-high 6 strikeouts in 5.2 innings pitched.
- Bobby Poyner tossed 5.1 innings of relief this weekend and didn’t allow a run while striking out four Gamecock hitters.
- The Gators have now won eight of their last nine contests against the Gamecocks, including six in a row.
- Florida improved to 23-3 (.885) at McKethan Stadium and is now a perfect 26-0 when out-hitting its opponents.
- JJ Schwarz knocked out two homers today, his 12th of the season and seventh of the week. He went 9-for-17 (.529) on the week with 15 RBI, 12 runs, seven homers and two doubles, with a 1.882 slugging percentage.
- Ryan Larson is batting .400 (16-for-40) in SEC play and was 6-for-9 (.667) this weekend.
- Buddy Reed leads the team with 13 stolen bases and tallied two thefts today.
- Eight of the nine Gator starters recorded a hit this afternoon.
- Gators have scored into double digits in four consecutive games.
- Florida hit at a .400 clip against USC this weekend, going 44-for-110.
- UF played error-free baseball in every game of the series.
The Gators will travel to Tallahassee for the third Share A Little Sunshine Showdown matchup against No. 8 Florida State on Tuesday at 6 p.m. The game can be heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network with Jeff Cardozoand Steve Russell and will be carried on ESPN3 through WatchESPN.