Gators complete sweep of South Carolina

Florida has been searching for consistent starting pitching this season, and Sunday’s game could provide a lot of the answers going forward.

The Gators (28-9, 9-6 SEC) gave the ball to freshman Alex Faedo, hoping to get a few innings out of him and use the well-rested bullpen to finish the game. The right-hander instead went 5.2 innings, allowing two hits and one run while recording six strikeouts. The innings pitched and strikeouts were career highs.

With Faedo in a groove on the mound, the Florida offense continued to score runs, completing the sweeping with a 12-2 win over the Gamecocks. The Gators have now won nine of the last 10 games against South Carolina (23-14, 6-9 SEC).

“I was really pumped to get this opportunity,” Faedo said. “The older guys helped me prepare a lot for it. They gave me a lot of advice before the game that helped me out a lot.”

Faedo sat 89-92 mph with his fastball, spotting it to both sides of the plate. His slider kept the South Carolina hitters off balance as he threw it for strikes and bounced it on the plate to get hitters to swing and miss. He didn’t allow a hit until there were two outs in the fourth inning. The first run came on a solo home run by Max Schrock with two outs in the sixth inning.

The freshman’s dominance puts him in good position to continue in the Florida pitching rotation next weekend at Mississippi State.

“I didn’t hesitate about Alex starting. I’ve seen it. I’ve got a lot of confidence in Alex and he’s going to be a really good pitcher. Today, he showed it. He commanded both sides of the plate and made big pitches when we needed to. It’s just another option on the weekends.”

In the four games this week, the Gators scored 60 runs on 66 hits.

The offense continued with a four-run second inning, started by an RBI single by Mike Rivera and a two-run single by Dalton Guthrie. Richie Martin, after a six-RBI game on Saturday, completed the second-inning scoring with a sacrifice fly.

J.J. Schwarz tacked on a run with a solo homer in the fourth inning, and he would later add a two-run homer, his seventh home run of the week. Last season, the team’s leading home run hitter was Taylor Gushue with six, and the freshman passed that number in four games this week.

The Gators scored five runs combined in the fifth and sixth inning, reaching double-digit runs for the fourth straight game.

“We swung the bats as well as we have all year,” O’Sullivan said. “It has been a really good week for a lot of guys. Special week for JJ. He had a special week, and a bunch of guys did.”

Florida hits the road on Tuesday to face Florida State in Tallahassee. The two teams split the first two meetings in Gainesville and Jacksonville, respectively.

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