Gators smother #1 Aggies 7-2, clinch series

The #3 ranked Florida Gators clinched the series over #1 Texas A&M Saturday night in a game that was not as close as the score indicated. Junior Pete Alonso (4-5, HR, 3 RBI) led the way for an offense that produced timely hits, with six of the Gators seven runs coming with two outs.

Starting pitcher Alex Faedo (6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 7 K) started the contest by issuing a home run to the first batter he faced. A wild pitch later in the inning would allow the visitors to take a a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the first. The Gators offense would answer, with Alonso and catcher Mike Rivera (2-3, 2 RBI, BB) providing the scoring at-bats. Alonso’s second RBI single came an inning later that would be the last for Aggies starter Kyle Simonds (2 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 K). Simonds (L 5-1, 4.28) was the second Aggies starter in as many nights to have a troublingly high pitch count early in the contest, with forty-five coming in the Gators three-run first inning. The Gators offense was able to jump on Simonds early, running his pitch count to seventy during his six-out effort.

The Gators would add two more in the fourth through Alonso’s second home run in as many nights and a Jeremy Vasquez (2-4, 2 RBI, 2B, BB) RBI double. Faedo (W 6-0, 2.40) was able to settle down and establish himself after a shaky start. The sophomore got better as the night wore on, with fastballs still reaching as high as 93 mph in the latter innings. Florida Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan had high praise for the performance.

“"I don't want to overstate this, but that's probably as good of a pitching performance by anyone that I've ever coached by the way the first inning went. Texas A&M came out ready to swing the bats. They were aggressive. I think Alex (Faedo) threw 35 pitches in the first, and then to really buckle down against a really good lineup for the next five innings -- he competed. I think it's a valuable lesson for all of our pitchers.”

After the game, Faedo alluded to O’Sullivan’s early mound visit as the turning point in the contest.

“I just needed to locate my stuff better and have better pace on the mound. Sully brought that to my attention and I think that helped a lot. (I needed to) Just try to stay with the game plan and keep the ball down a little better.”

The Aggies were unable to muster much off the sophomore, whose confidence grew as the contest continued. He was relieved by junior Dane Dunning (S 3 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 4 K), who was no less dominant than his sophomore counterpart.

Vasquez would add another RBI in the sixth, bringing home Alonso for one of his three trips across the plate tonight. The first baseman, who is 6-for-9 on the series, continued his continued his stellar campaign by leading the team with three RBI

Although the difference on the scoreboard was not enormous, the product on the field was and the Gators held a potent Aggies offense at bay for the second night in a row. The result was never in doubt, as the pitching staff refused to allow A&M the opportunity to inch their way into the game. The tone was established early and O’Sullivan was proud of the way his team responded after going down by two early.

“"It was a gritty performance. You win last night, you go down 2-0 and A&M's excited and they're swinging the bat well in the first inning. It's hard to put their hitters away. It was a really odd first inning. Both offenses did a really good job coming out of the gates and battling and driving pitch counts up. It was a good team win for us."

UP NEXT

The Gators look to complete the brushing aside of the nation’s top team in game three on Sunday (2pm ESPNU). Junior left-hander A.J. Puk (1-2, 3.49) takes on sophomore Jace Vines (4-0, 3.38) in the conclusion of the three-game set.


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