If Saturday night was the last time Alex Faedo pitches for the Florida baseball program, he goes out with one final exclamation point on a celebrated collegiate career.
Of course, it’s yet to be seen if Faedo is truly done in this College World Series, but he’s at least gotten the Gators this far.
The junior right-hander turned in one more incredible performance while holding No. 6 seed TCU to 3 hits and 4 walks over 7 1/3 scoreless innings to pitch No. 3 Florida to a 3-0 win as the Gators clinched their spot in the championship series in Omaha, Neb.
Florida (50-19) will open a best-of-three finals series with No. 4 LSU (52-18) on Monday at TD Ameritrade Park to determine the College World Series champion.
Faedo, who collected 11 more strikeouts Saturday night, has now thrown 27 1/3 innings in the NCAA Tournament while allowing only 1 run and totaling 44 strikeouts. For the season, he’s 9-2 with a 2.26 ERA and a program-record and NCAA-leading 157 strikeouts.
He’s been the MVP so far in getting the Gators to the championship series for the first time since 2011 and just the third time in program history as they seek their first national title.
With only a familiar foe left standing in their way.
Florida took two out of three games from LSU in Gainesville, Fla., back in late March, opening that SEC series with 1-0 and 8-1 wins before dropping the finale 10-6.
The Tigers, who tied with Florida for the SEC regular-season title, punched their ticket to the finals earlier in the day Saturday with a 6-1 win over top-seeded Oregon State. They made an impressive rally through the losers bracket, including back-to-back wins over an Oregon State team that hadn’t lost consecutive games all season.
That’s how the College World Series ended up with an all-SEC final for the first time since South Carolina defeated Florida in 2011.
The Gators will presumably start sophomore right-hander Brady Singer (8-5, 3.18 ERA) on Monday while LSU could turn to Jared Poche’ (12-3, 3.33), though no official pitching decisions have been announced.
Game 1: Monday, 7 p.m., on ESPN
Game 2: Tuesday, 8 p.m., on ESPN
Game 3 (if necessary): Wednesday, 8 p.m., on ESPN
*All games can be streamed online via WatchESPN.
-Florida’s previous trips to the College World Series finals came in 2011 (loss to South Carolina) and 2005 (loss to Texas).
-Florida has reached 50 wins for the third straight season, sixth time in program history and fourth time in coach Kevin O’Sullivan’s tenure (2011, 2015, 2016, 2017).
-Florida will be the visiting team in Game 1 and Game 3 (if necessary) and the home team in Game 2.
-While Faedo leads the NCAA with 157 strikeouts this season, LSU ace Alex Lange is second with 150. Faedo passed Rob Bonanno (148 Ks in 1994) for the single-season Florida record. He is the fifth pitcher in the last 30 seasons with two 10-strikeout games in the same College World Series.
-In Florida’s four College World Series games, each starting pitcher has totaled at least 9 strikeouts. Prior to this year, only one Gators pitcher had ever struck out 9 in a CWS game.
-LSU has won six national championships in baseball (1991, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000 and 2009).
-Lange, the Tigers’ ace, pitched 7 1/3 innings on Friday and it’s unclear how he might be available in the championship series.