By Eric Olson
AP Sports Writer
OMAHA, Neb. — The Detroit Tigers’ brass must have been smiling after the performance Alex Faedo put on at TD Ameritrade Park. The Florida Gators sure were.
Faedo limited TCU to two singles and struck out 11 in seven innings Sunday night, and Florida posted its first College World Series shutout since 1991 with a 3-0 win.
The Tigers’ first-round draft pick this month had at least one strikeout each inning and retired 10 in a row before turning the game over to closer Michael Byrne to start the eighth.
“There have been historic great pitchers come through, Rosenblatt and now TD Ameritrade, and tonight has to go down as a great, great performance in the College World Series history,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said.
Faedo, who mixed his slider with a mid-90s fastball during his dominant 106-pitch performance, has been part of seven of the Gators’ nine shutouts this season. This shutout was Florida’s second in its 36 all-time CWS games and first in Omaha since a 5-0 win over Florida State 26 years ago. The 11 Ks are the most by a Florida pitcher in a College World Series game. He now has 146 strikeouts on the season, tied for the most in the nation with Louisville’s Brendan McKay, who pitched in the Cardinals’ win earlier on Sunday.
“Just throwing whatever Sully wanted me to throw and trusting him and Mike,” Faedo said, referring to Gators coach Kevin O’Sullivan and catcher Mike Rivera. “They know the hitters more than anyone. Just trusting them and just attacking the zone with whatever they call.”
TCU’s Jared Janczak (9-1) struggled in his four innings. Byrne worked out of two mini jams and earned his 17th save.
JJ Schwarz, Christian Hicks and Nelson Maldonado each drove in runs for the Gators (48-18).
Florida is in the CWS for the sixth time in eight years and TCU (47-17) for the fourth year in a row. This was the first time they’ve met.
Last year, Faedo was a hard-luck loser in an elimination game against Texas Tech. Sunday, he walked two in addition to giving up an infield single and base hit to left.
“We had a game plan going against him. Having a game plan and executing against a great pitcher are two different things,” Schlossnagle said. “It was his night, no question.”
Connor Wanhanen said he and his teammates were looking for one pitch all night.
“Whether it be lefties or righties, we were trying to hunt the fastball because we knew he could leave it up sometimes and we could do some damage with it,” Wanhanen said. “But he did an outstanding job just mixing and matching and throwing strikes when he needed to and keeping the ball down for the most part. When he did elevate it, we just weren’t able to put our best swings on it.”
The Frogs squandered their few chances, getting picked off first base twice and having a runner thrown out when he tried to take second on a pitch in the dirt. In the third inning, Zach Humphreys and Evan Skoug, the Frogs’ leading home run hitter, struck out with the bases loaded.
“That was huge,” Faedo said, “because I feel like there’s always at least one time in the game where something like that will happen to me, where there’s either bases loaded or a couple of guys on. You have to find a way to get out of that because you know when you get out of that big situation, the other team, they maybe fold up a little bit or we get a little bit more confident.”
Faedo has been stellar during this postseason run, O’Sullivan said.
“Alex was special,” O’Sullivan said. “I told some people the other day the last two or three weeks he’s been a little bit different. And he certainly was the difference tonight.”
TCU didn’t have another batter reach base until Wanhanen bunted for a hit to open the eighth against Byrne. Wanhanen got to third when Ryan Merrill singled, but Byrne struck out pinch hitter Evan Williams to end the threat. In the ninth, after Warner doubled with one out, Byrne struck out Brown and got Elliott Barzilli to ground out.
Note: Maldonado rolled his ankle running the bases, played a couple innings before being lifted.
“He’ll be fine,” O’Sullivan said. “He just tweaked it a little bit. But I expect him to be fine on Tuesday.”