COURTESY OF UAA COMMUNICATIONS
Florida (36-14, 17-8 SEC) and Alabama (19-30, 5-20 SEC) battled in a pitcher’s duel all night as UF won its 16th one-run game of the year (16-7 record in one-run games).
Through the first six innings, the two starting pitchers combined for 15 strikeouts and just three hits allowed. Alabama starter Jake Walters held the Gators scoreless with just one hit until the seventh.
Alex Faedo allowed just two hits through six innings – but they came back-to-back in the bottom of the fourth inning and gave Alabama a 1-0 lead.
After retiring the first 10 batters he faced, Faedo allowed a one-out single to Kyle Kaufman in the fourth and Cobie Vance followed with a double into the left field corner to take the lead.
The Gators’ second hit of the night didn’t come until the seventh inning, but it was a big one. JJ Schwarz launched a ball over the left field wall to tie the game at one.
It was Schwarz’s eighth home run of the season, surpassing his 2016 total of seven.
Faedo’s night ended after seven innings with just three hits allowed and eight strikeouts. It marked his fifth quality start in a row.
Over his last five starts, Faedo has allowed six earned runs in 34 innings for a 1.59 ERA.
The drama continued into the ninth inning. Dalton Guthrie led off with a single back up the middle and took second on an errant pickoff attempt from the Alabama pitcher.
After an intentional walk to Schwarz, a wild pitch allowed Guthrie to take third with Maldonado at the plate.
Maldonado lifted a 3-1 pitch to center field, allowing Guthrie to tag and score the winning run.
Michael Byrne worked two scoreless innings to pick up the win.
The series continues with game two on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET live on SEC Network+. Sunday’s finale will be at 4 p.m. on SEC Network.
Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan Quotes:
“I think that’s our [23rd] one-run game this year and we’ve won  of them, it’s just been one of those years. Both starting pitchers were outstanding, locating on both sides. It was a really good effort from both starting pitchers.
“A couple things to point out. I thought Dalton’s play up the middle was a great play, then India made a great play there in the ninth inning – a great play because we’re guarding the line. Dalton had a really good base running play, we talked about balls in the dirt before the game. He took off and got to third with one out, then Nelly expanded the zone a little bit with a runner at third. We’ve been talking about that. It’s expansion just a little bit. Then he stayed on a breaking ball and hit it to center field and drove in the go-ahead run. JJ got us going after a slow night offensively with the big home run on the 3-1 count.
“Then Michael Byrne. I felt like it was just one of those games that was going to come down to a one-run game. That’s the luxury of Michael, you’re able to use him for two innings. He got the win there at the end. We’re staying pace with the other clubs at the top of the league. It was an important win for us.”