For all the talk about how familiar the Gators are with Omaha, it isn’t like they have a fond history there. The Gators’ last appearance in Omaha, and three of their last five, resulted in two and que sweeps out of the College World Series.
Alex Faedo made that fate literally impossible last night.
Faedo threw seven innings of shutout ball, allowing only two hits while striking out eleven, and then turned it over to Michael Byrne who slammed the door shut with a six out save as Florida handled TCU 3-0 in the opening round of the CWS. It’s the Gators’ first shutout at the World Series since blanking FSU 5-0 in 1991. Perhaps even more impressive, Faedo’s 11 strikeouts set a school record for most K’s at the CWS.
Meanwhile, Florida’s offense did just enough to get the win. JJ Schwarz’ RBI liner up the middle brought home the Gators’ first run of the game in their first at bat, and RBI singles by Christian Hicks and Nelson Maldonado scored the other two with RBI singles in the fourth and fifth. And because TCU couldn’t touch Faedo, that was enough. More than enough, really.
The newly anointed Detroit Tiger used a nasty slider with a blazing fastball to keep TCU off balance throughout the day. It didn’t help that both teams had to deal with one of the most inconsistent… and, well, worst plate umpires I can ever remember (and this is in a game Florida won), but TCU compensated for that by getting fooled by Faedo’s pitches and frequently swinging at balls out of the zone. In fact, they never did figure him out through three trips through the order.
The Horned Frogs really only threatened once, in the third inning, when Dalton Guthrie committed a rare error and Faedo gave up one of his two hits to put runners at the corners. But Faedo got out of that jam with a pair of strikeouts, including one on a wipeout slider that came after what any competent ump would have deemed to be strike three anyway. And though he did walk a few more hitters throughout the day, he just kept coming back with wicked breaking pitches to get TCU swinging themselves out.
Florida’s defense did its part, too. Catcher Mike Rivera picked off a pair of runners on the base paths after they strayed too far off the bag. And Rivera blocked a bouncer in the dirt, tracked it down and sniped down the runner attempting to take second on what looked like a ball that had gotten away.
The only negative about the win was that Maldonado appeared to have turned his ankle stepping on first. He stuck it out through his next at bat, but then had to be removed. If he isn’t able to play going forward, that’s a big loss.
But if Florida gets pitching performances like the one they just got from Faedo, it won’t even matter.