Pitching dominant again, Gators beat Georgia 4-1 and win series

Sophomore Alex Faedo (W 8-1, 3.32) was the third Florida Gators (36-6, 13-5) starter in as many fixtures to dominate the Georgia Bulldogs (21-20, 7-11) on the mound, as the home team collects a series win over an SEC East rival to the tune of 4-1.

Not to be outdone by the superb efforts of his fellow weekend starters, Faedo (5.2 IP, 2 H, 6 K, 2 BB) allowed Georgia little while he was on the mound Saturday, issuing only two hits in 5.2 innings pitched. The offense gave him an early lead via first baseman Pete Alonso (2-4, 2 R, 2 RBI, HR, 2B), who set the tone early with his team-leading ninth home run of the season in the first inning. The junior was close to several more, as he was clearly dialed in on Georgia starter Bo Tucker (L 3-4, 3.86). Florida would add another in both of the next two innings, coming by way of a Jonathan India (0-2, R, 2 BB, K), single in the second and a Buddy Reed (2-4, RBI, 2B, 3B) double in the third. Tucker (2.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 2 K, 2 BB) was chased after Reed’s at-bat and the runs left with him, as the Bulldog bullpen would largely hold the Gators in check for the rest of the contest.

Although not as dominating as Logan Shore’s effort the night before, Faedo was efficient, allowing no more than one hit in any inning and kept the Bulldogs from crawling their way back into the game. Florida Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan understood what his performance and a win today means in the context of a regular season that is quickly drawing to a close.

“Today was an important game for us. This is the time of the year where everyone is fighting for their lives and fighting to get into the tournament. With nine of our last 12 games on the road, this was a game we need to win. Let’s be honest, it was that way.”

Junior Kirby Snead (2.0 IP, 2 H, 3 K) came on in relief of the sophomore and was no less ruthless. Right-hander Dane Dunning (0.1, H, ER) was in the contest long enough to finish the eighth for Snead and to issue the hit that would become the Bulldog’s consolation run in the ninth after another frustrating day at the hands of the nation’s top pitching staff. Junior Shaun Anderson (S 1.0 IP, 2 K) would come on for Dunning and record his club-leading ninth save of the year. O’Sullivan planned for Dunning to finish the game, but the situation dictated otherwise.

“It doesn’t get more difficult than that, to be honest with you. He had the tying run at the plate and a left-handed batter up.”

The series was decided this weekend from the mound, as it so often is. O’Sullivan is blessed with throwing options few outside of the major leagues can boast. Although Georgia starter Robert Tyler got the better of his Gators in game one, his club rebounded with two more masterclass efforts in games that the offense scored multiple runs early. It is as good a formula for victory as any, and O’Sullivan thought today was another an impressive showing from the mound.

“They all did well. Dane Dunning came in the inning before and got a big out. Kirby Snead came out of the bullpen and got a big out. Alex Faedo pitched well.”

As O’Sullivan moves to 21-8 against Georgia, the coach recognizes where his players are both on and off the field with both the regular season and semester drawing to a close. He is looking forward to what comes next, as well.

“The players have a lot on their plate right now. They have final exams coming up this week. They’re regular students as well, and they have a lot of things on their mind. It was good for them to get through today and to get a series win. I look forward to the homestretch here.”

The Gators are in action next Friday at No. 8 South Carolina at 7 p.m. in a series that will have significant ramifications on the SEC Championship race. With only 12 games remaining, Florida is still poised to check all the boxes on a season of limitless potential. If Florida can continue the trend of mixing dominant pitching with early, big run innings, the Gators will simply be too much to handle. Just ask Georgia. 

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