GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Alex Faedo hadn’t been his sharpest in his last two starts for Florida, but the junior ace didn’t seem concerned in the least earlier this week.
He said he felt he’s given his team a chance to win all season and he simply hoped to keep doing that.
On Thursday, Faedo was the reason the Gators won.
He went 8 2/3 scoreless innings in No. 12 Florida’s 1-0 win over No. 24 South Carolina, allowing only 3 hits and 4 walks while racking up 9 strikeouts in the series opener at McKethan Stadium.
Florida (26-12, 9-7 SEC) has now won 6 of its last 7 games while the Gamecocks (23-14, 8-8) continue their recent struggles.
It was a showdown of top pitching prospects Thursday as Faedo squared off against South Carolina righty Clarke Schmidt, who came in with a sterling 1.31 ERA.
Both were terrific, but Faedo was just a little better.
Faedo (6-1) had given up 6 runs (5 earned) on 10 hits over 5 2/3 innings two weeks ago against Tennessee and then wasn’t helped by his defense last week at Vanderbilt while giving up 6 runs (2 earned) on 7 hits over 6 innings.
He would have no such troubles this time, though.
The junior right-hander struck out the first two batters of the game in a perfect first inning, worked around a two-out walk in the second with an inning-ending strikeout and overcame a leadoff single in the third with two strikeouts and a fly out.
South Carolina’s best chance came in the fifth after Madison Stokes’ leadoff double to right-center. He’d make it to third base after a pair of groundouts, but shortstop Dalton Guthrie hauled in Jacob Olson’s short blooper for the final out of that frame.
The next jam came in the seventh when first baseman JJ Schwarz misplayed a soft chopper down the line, leaving on runners on first and second with two outs. But Faedo go Danny Blair to ground out to second to escape that situation as well.
Faedo would last 8 2/3 innings, finally giving way after a two-out walk in the ninth.
Michael Byrne got Stokes to fly out to center to end it for his seventh save.
Florida’s lone run came in the bottom of the fifth when Christian Hicks smacked a two-out double to left and Keenan Bell drove him home with a single up the middle.
That’s all the Gators would get and all they would need.
Schmidt (4-2), who left the game in the sixth inning with right forearm soreness, allowed 1 run on 4 hits and 3 walks in 5 1/3 innings.
Check back for a full recap and postgame reaction.
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