Alex Faedo doesn’t have the star power of Florida’s other starting pitchers, Logan Shore and A.J. Puk. He isn’t as polished as Shore and he doesn’t have Puk’s power arm.
However, it was Faedo who was the best of the three in the Gators’ season-opening series against Florida Gulf Coast. The sophomore tied his career-high with seven strikeouts over 5.2 innings, allowing just four hits and one run as the No. 1 Gators swept the Eagles 12-3 on Sunday at McKethan Stadium.
Being the Sunday pitcher on the opening weekend, Faedo went to the mound anxious to finally get his season started.
"I was antsy. But we’ve been antsy for a long time now," Faedo said. "It was getting used to it. Today was a just a good day. It’s easy when we’re winning."
If he was feeling nervous, the Tampa native didn’t show it. Faedo mowed down Florida Gulf Coast (0-3) through the first four innings, including a 10-pitch inning in the fourth frame.
In the fifth, the sophomore right-hander ran into trouble. After hitting Corey Fehribach with a pitch, Ryan Shinn singled before Faedo got Kyle Gilbert to pop out to second.
Nick Blasucci then hit an RBI double down the right-field line, cutting the Gators’ lead to 4-1.
And after falling behind in the count 2-1 to FGCU’s Gage Morey, UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan visited Faedo on the mound.
"I just felt at that point he was still upset with himself with the hit by pitch," O’Sullivan said. "The thing about Alex is that he’s a really, really competitive kid. … I think it was a learning experience for him and it’s just one of those things where you have to move on and the only thing important is the next pitch."
After falling behind 3-2 in the count to Morey, Faedo struck out the FGCU batter and let out a fist pump and a roar to try and energize his teammates.
"It was a good feeling," Faedo said. "On Sundays, it’s been long for the week, defense is tired and everyone is losing their legs so you try to amp them up a little bit."
Faedo got all the run support he needed in the first inning when Florida scored four runs. Freshman Deacon Liput put the exclamation point on the frame when he hit a two-run double to put the Gators out in front 4-0.
Florida (3-0) didn’t record another hit until the bottom of the seventh inning when the offense found its rhythm again. UF scored six runs on five hits with Liput hitting another two-run double.
The freshman second baseman finished the game 2-for-2 with two walks and four RBIs to cap off a weekend where he hit .556 — going 5-for-9 — with seven RBIs.
The Oviedo native wasn’t expecting to have as much success as he did in his first three games for the Gators.
"I like having positivity going into every game but honestly, no. I really didn’t," Liput said. "I’m really fortunate that worked out. I just went up there and kind of keep the same mindset so it worked out."
Redshirt sophomore Scott Moss sealed the win while making his first career appearance after battling injuries. The left-hander struck out two Eagles.
"All in all, it was a great weekend against a really good Florida Gulf Coast team," O’Sullivan said. "… We got a lot of work to do but we got a lot of things we can take from the weekend."
Florida is back in action tomorrow, beginning a two-game set against Eastern Michigan, with Tuesday’s game in Gainesville and Wednesday’s in Lakeland.
Junior pitcher Dane Dunning will draw the start on Tuesday.