University of Florida

Faedo’s dominant effort clinches Regional

After an hour and a half weather delay, Sophomore pitcher Alex Faedo dominated eight innings of baseball as the Florida Gators (50-13) beat Georgia Tech (38-25)  10-1 to win the Gainesville NCAA Regional Baseball Tournament on Sunday. The 50th win of the season propels the NCAA Tournament’s number one overall seed into a Super Regional with rival Florida State next weekend back in Gainesville.

Faedo was the story of the game. The sophomore Sunday starter for the Gators for all season led the SEC with 11 wins this year through eight innings of shutout ball. He walked one and struck out 10 allowing just 4 hits in 24 outs.

“As far as the game is concerned, Alex Faedo was the story of the game,” Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said after the game. “He made a lot of big pitches in the first four or five innings of a one-run game.”

While teammates Logan Shore and A.J. Puk have drawn most of the attention this year, there is no denying that Faedo is the real deal with some really nasty stuff on the mound. Yellow Jacket head coach Danny Hall agrees.

“I felt like their starting pitcher was outstanding,” Hall said. “Not only did he have outstanding velocity, it is either a cutter or a slider that just disappears. He got a lot of strikeouts on that pitch and kept us to where we couldn’t muster much offensively.”

While Faedo continued the pitching dominance that he and his pitching mates have the Gators accustomed to, junior first baseman Pete Alonso continued a historic weekend Sunday by going 3-for-5, scoring three times and knocking in three RBI in the meantime.

It was Alonso’s first weekend back from a few weeks off as he was recovering from a broken bone in his hand. After hitting three home runs and knocking in five runs in the first two games of the Regional, Alonso hit a double, went 3-for-5, knocked in three RBI, and scored three times in the big win Sunday night.

“Pete (Alonso) had an unbelievable weekend,” O’Sullivan said. “I’m not quite sure what to make of it. I know that he had a really good practice on Wednesday, and I anticipated him having some good at-bats but certainly didn’t expect him to have the weekend he did. I’m proud of our team and proud of the way we played.”

Alonso was humble almost to a point of being laughable after the game about the big weekend.

“I’m just trying to have extremely competitive at-bats and just square up any pitch I can handle -- just a really simple approach and trying to drive the ball and hit people in,” the junior first baseman said.

While Alonso was doing well all weekend, the Gators had six other players make the All-Regional Team and three were freshmen. Jonathan India, Nelson Maldonado, and Danny Reyes earned the honor and had a big night against Georgia Tech. Reyes had two home runs earlier in the weekend and had an RBI double against the yellow Jackets. India went 2-for-3 and had an RBI in the contest. Maldonado went 2-for-2 and scored twice in the contest.

In garnering their 50th win, Florida has entered pretty rare territory. Only five times in the history of the program have the Gators won 50 games. This is the third time under the tutelage of O’Sullivan the Gators have accomplished the feat. He wanted to make sure they understood what they have done in what is a pretty historical season so far.

“The first thing I told the team after the game was I want them to understand that getting to this stage of the season is not easy,” O’Sullivan said. “I don’t want them to take it for granted – it’s a heck of an accomplishment. I’m proud of the way they played. They kind of had a bullseye on their back the whole year, and they’ve handled the adversity all the way through from the beginning of the season all the way to this point. Getting to 50 wins as well before we start the Super Regional round is pretty special.

“On the flip side of that, we’ve got some work to do this week. Obviously our ultimate goal is to get to Omaha and win a national championship. We’ve got Florida State coming in next weekend who’s obviously playing very well right now. But in the same token, we’re playing at home, and we’re looking forward to next weekend.

Alonso is looking forward to next weekend’s Super Regional matchup with the Seminoles that will be held in Gainesville.

 “Winning a Regional is definitely good momentum the way we did it,” Alonso said. “We played extremely solid these past few games, and going into Florida State next week, it’s going to be a really, really big series. It’s high stakes, an interstate rivalry – it’s going to be an extremely good atmosphere. Playing solid the way we are, it’s an extremely good stepping stone for next weekend. I’m really proud of everyone contributing in every way they can, and we can keep this thing rolling.”

The Gators swept Florida State in three mid-week appearances this year. Florida swept FSU a year ago in the Super Regional in Gainesville. The Gators will send out their weekend starters Faedo, Shore and Puk to start next weekend, three guys the Seminoles haven’t seen pitch since last year’s Super Regional.

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