University of Florida junior right-hander Alex Faedo came into the season with top-five pick buzz for the upcoming MLB Draft. On Friday night, he made his case to be taken number one.
Faedo was masterful, tossing 119 pitches – 78 of them strikes – and allowing just two hits to eight strikeouts in 8 ⅔ innings in the Gators’ 1-0 win over the University of Miami.
All that kept him from picking up the complete-game shutout was an error by his shortstop Dalton Guthrie with two outs in the ninth inning. But, Guthrie did more damage than any Hurricane could in an offense-starved contest.
Jesse Lepore took the mound for Miami (2-2) in the opener and suffered the first loss of his Hurricanes career, falling to 1-1 on the season. Lepore was effective in his six innings of work – striking out six – but allowed six hits and walked three. Despite some early control issues, Lepore locked in when it mattered, getting out of several jams with runners in scoring position.
The UM offense couldn’t solve Faedo, and one run proved more than enough for Florida’s ace.
In the bottom of the second, Miami found itself in trouble when Florida (4-1) second baseman Deacon Liput tripled to lead off the inning. But, Hurricanes third baseman Edgar Michelangeli gunned him out at the plate to save the run for Lepore.
Gators third baseman Jonathan India knocked in the sole run of the ballgame, which was set up by a walk and a single earlier in the frame, taking advantage of Lepore’s struggles in the third to drive in the score on a one-out single off the glove of Michelangeli. Florida looked ready for more with two runners in scoring position, but a strikeout and a flyout to right field ended the damage at one for Miami.
Fast forward to the fifth, when Michelangeli hit a double to end Faedo’s streak of retired hitters at 13. A grounder to second put Michelangeli just 90 feet from knotting the game at one apiece, but India made a backhanded stop at the hot corner to retire the Canes.
Lepore gave way to reliever Albert Maury, who had some help right away from Miami right-fielder Michael Burns.
Burns made a play on a ball hit near the warning track to kick off a scoreless bottom of the seventh. After another 1-2-3 inning for Faedo in the eighth, Maury allowed two two-out singles to the Gators but got out of the jam by drawing a ground ball to Romy Gonzalez at second base.
The match looked to be in hand in the top of the ninth after Faedo picked up two quick outs and got Burns to hit a grounder to short. But, Guthrie fumbled the routine play, forcing Florida to face designated hitter Johnny Ruiz, who pushed Faedo into his first walk of the game.
This brought out Florida manager Kevin O’Sullivan to call it a day for his ace. The Hurricanes suddenly had their best opportunity of the game to drive in a run, and Gonzalez had the chance to capitalize. Gators closer Frank Ruiz would not let his starter’s efforts be in vain and struck out Gonzalez to close out the duel.