Faedo came within one out of a complete game shutout giving up a walk with two outs in the ninth inning and after throwing 125 pitches to that point. Sophomore Michael Byrne would come in and get Madison Stokes to fly out to left center to end the contest and secure the win for the Gators (12-6, 9-7 SEC) Faedo.
While Faedo scattered three hits and struck out nine in his 8.2 innings, South Carolina (23-14, 8-8 SEC) ace Clarke Schmidt was really effective too going 5.1 innings and allowing just one run before having to leave with an arm injury in the middle of throwing to freshman Austin Langworthy’s at-bat in the sixth.
“Both guys were really good early,” Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said after the contest. Obviously Alex was great the whole night. Michael came in and got the last out.
“I was really pleased with the win and really pleased with how Alex threw.”
In a game billed as a pitchers’ duel with two guys that may end up first rounders in the Major League Baseball Draft, the contest went as expected with the Gators getting a couple of timely hits to take the win.
Freshman Keenan Bell was able to score junior Christian Hicks from second who was there after punching a two-out double for the only score of the contest.
“I thought we had some good at bats,” O’Sullivan said. “I thought Dalton (Guthrie) had a good night, he had two hits again and Christian Hicks hit a ball the other way, into the wind, for a double and we got a two-out run there. Keenan Bell had a couple of hits and hit a ball up the middle. Nelly went 0-1, but he had two walks and I thought his bats were good.”
O’Sullivan wasn’t upset with the offensive production. He understands there are going to be these kinds of games on opening nights of SEC series.
“You know after Schmidt came out, there was a different look with (Reed) Scott, a different look with (Josh) Reagan, they are just different look guys,” he said. “I kind of had an idea it was going to be a low scoring game.
“We had the one inning where we had runners on second and third with one out and we hit a ball right at the third baseman. I was kind of surprised he was right on the line. Normally they’re off the line just a little bit more to cover, more range to the left, more balls are hit to the left than the right.
“I talked to (Gamecock head coach) Chad Holbrook before the game and said it’s amazing the type of pitching we’re seeing in this league. There’s a lot of good pitching and I think people have to understand that when you face a Faedo, or face a Schmidt or face a Kyle Wright like he threw last week… I mean these guys are potential big leaguers for a long time. The league just continues to get better on the mound. It’s amazing to me how many guys are throwing in the mid 90’s and have command of their secondary pitches. It’s just not easy to score in this league on Friday nights. You have to play clean. We made the one error and other than that Alex pitched around that and made a big pitch and picked up J.J. and it was just a heck of a performance by Alex.”
Hicks’ two-out double was a big one of course.
“That’s one of our mottos, ‘as long as we’re still in the dugout we’ve got a chance to score’,” he said. “Over the years we’ve done a really good job with two strikes and done a really good job with two outs. I am hoping we can continue to do that because it was obviously the difference in the ball game.”
The Gators had just one error and his team continues to be aces in the field, despite some key injuries. Catcher Mike Rivera is out with a wrist injury and third baseman Jonathan India is out with an injury of his own.
Hicks is playing third now after starting the season at first and playing some short when Guthrie was out. Junior Mark Kolozsvary was behind the plate at catcher for Rivera and had a great game including gunning down Gamecock Carlos Cortes as he tried to steal second.
“We’re kind of limited right now in not being able to play India at third, once he’s able to come back, we can play Hicks at first and we can catch (J.J. Schwarz) a little bit more. Right now we’re kind of limited, but Mark’s doing a heck of a job for us.
“Mark Kolozsvary has done a really nice job behind the plate. He threw out Cortes trying to steal there. I can’t say enough about how well Mark has played defensively behind the plate.”
The Gators and Gamecocks return to the field Friday evening at 7 p.m. for game two of the series and will be aired live on the SEC Network.