In his three-year career at Florida, junior righty pitcher Alex Faedo has maintained a steady demeanor.
UF’s poker-faced ace is not one to show emotion often, or get rattled easily when runners reach base.
Faedo will look to channel out more distractions, and get the Gators off to a good start, when he takes the mound today for UF’s Super Regional opener against Wake Forest (42-18) at McKethan Stadium. The Major League Baseball amateur draft is coming up Monday, and based on a stellar college career, Faedo is projected as a mid first-round pick.
But Faedo said his sole focus today is finding a way to get Wake Forest hitters out.
“You’ve got no control over what happens,” Faedo said. “Those people think the way they’ve got to think about you and you’re just going out there, you’re not pitching for them, you’re pitching to win the game for the team and to go to Omaha. That’s the ultimate goal the whole year.”
Florida (45-17) is two wins away from reaching the College World Series for a third straight year. Faedo is a big reason why, posting a 7-2 record this season with a 2.70 ERA, with 123 strikeouts in 103.1 innings pitched. Faedo will be going for his 27th career win in his final home start.
“He’s always won,” Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “I think the thing that separates Alex from maybe most people in his position is he’s been able to handle all the expectations in the draft. He’s been awesome.”
Last Saturday in a critical regional start against USF, Faedo came back from a 38-minute weather delay to allow just one run on four hits in seven innings. He struck out 10 and walked just two in the no-decision, a game the Gators eventually won 5-1 in 12 innings.
“He just always seems to rise to the occasion,” O’Sullivan said. “Last time out was the best he’s pitched all year in my opinion. He was 94 to 96 (mph), his slider was 87-88, he was on point at both sides of the plate and his change-up was the best it’s been since he’s been here.”
After winning 13 games as a sophomore, Faedo underwent arthroscopic procedures on both knees last September. By December, Faedo was throwing again and hasn’t missed a start this season. Physically, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Faedo said he feels as strong as he’s been all season.
“I don’t really look at my velocity,” Faedo said. “I’ve heard that it’s starting to get back up, but I think the biggest thing was just trying to get some strength back. It didn’t affect my arm at all but the lower half was kind of weak and you just had to keep working to get your body in sync again.”
Along the way, Faedo has taken on the role of staff ace this season after being a Sunday starter in his first two years at UF. Faedo said he learned from former Gator standout pitcher Logan Shore the responsibility of being a Friday starter.
“If I don’t put a great effort toward the first game of the series I can tell the series doesn’t go the way we want as a team,” Faedo said. “Whenever I feel like I put the team in a good chance to win the first game then usually we win the series or sweep.
“That’s something that Shore did constantly that I don’t think that I could really recognize until I was put in that situation. But Shore did a great job of it because he did it each and every year for three years straight.”
Faedo will get a tough test facing a Wake Forest team that has power up and down the lineup. The Demon Deacons lead the ACC in home runs (100) and are second in batting average (.311).
“It should be fun,” Faedo said. “I’m always excited to pitch. I was excited to pitch against USF last week because I knew that they could swing it and I’m excited to pitch against Wake, too, because I’ve heard they can swing it, too.”
Contact Kevin Brockway at 352-374-5054 or email@example.com. Also check out Brockway’s blog at Gatorsports.com.