Alex Faedo has been here before.
In the first game of the College World Series, the Tampa, native pitched seven scoreless innings and struck out 11 batters en route to a 3-0 victory over TCU.
Fast forward to Saturday night, and Faedo was on the mound again.
The opponent was still TCU, UF held a 3-0 lead and the junior pitcher was still holding the Horned Frogs scoreless in the seventh inning while striking out 11 batters.
Behind Faedo’s stellar pitching performance, only letting up three hits in 7.1 innings pitched, the Gators defeated TCU 3-0 to advance to the championship at the College World Series in Omaha.
“Obviously it all started on the mound again with Alex,” coach Kevin O’Sullivan said in a release. “He gutted it out. Made some really big pitches when he needed to.”
While Faedo was holding the TCU bats at bay, he got some help from the Florida offense.
In the top of the second, UF outfielder Austin Langworthy scored after catcher Mike Rivera hit into a fielder’s choice that saw third baseman Jonathan India out at second. The Gators never gave up the lead.
In the top of the fifth, they extended it. After Mike Rivera was hit by a pitch, designated hitter Christian Hicks, who entered the game as part of a lineup change after shortstop Dalton Guthrie was injured, doubled to left centerfield, allowing Rivera to score from first.
Hicks wasn’t done there. In the top of the seventh inning, the St. Augustine, native hit a triple to right centerfield, instantly putting himself in scoring position.
A Deacon Liput single allowed Hicks to come home, giving the Gators a 3-0 lead and enough of a lead to allow O’Sullivan to go turn to Michael Byrne to close out the game.
“You know, we just really tried to stay loose,” Faedo said. “And just our big thing is just try your best and good things will happen right now.”
And the sophomore didn’t disappoint. Despite giving up a single to his first batter, Byrne didn’t allow the Horned Frogs to get into scoring position, retiring the next five batters, three of them by strikeout.
This game wasn’t anything new for the Gators. All postseason, they had to win some important games.
In the Regional, they were forced into a deciding game by Bethune-Cookman. In the Super Regional, they had to beat Wake Forest in a winner-take-all game three.
So against TCU on Saturday night, nothing was different.
“Yeah, it helps that we had to bounce back all year,” Hicks said. “The game before has no bearing on today's game. You just flush that and come back out and try to do your best today.”
With the win, the Florida advanced to the championship series, where they will face LSU for the title. The Tigers are coming off two big wins against top-ranked Oregon State after coming from the loser’s bracket.