GAINESVILLE, Fla. — While speaking before Florida’s College World Series championship celebration Wednesday back at McKethan Stadium, Alex Faedo did his best to downplay his individual feats in the Gators’ run to their first national title.
But the numbers simply won’t allow that.
Faedo was named the Most Outstanding Player of the College World Series after going 2-0 in Omaha, Neb., with 22 strikeouts in 14 1/3 scoreless innings. He became just the fifth pitcher in the last 30 seasons with two 10-strikeout games in the same CWS.
But that’s only part of the story.
For the NCAA tournament as a whole, including the regionals and super regionals, Faedo gave up just 1 run over 27 1/3 innings for a 0.33 ERA along with 44 strikeouts.
There are no available records to compare Faedo’s postseason numbers historically — an NCAA rep said he’d need a few days to look into it — but he is surely in rare company with what he’s done this last month.
“I know we won two games that I pitched, and that was it really. … Just happy that we got the first national championship in Florida baseball history,” Faedo said plainly.
But what about those statistics? How did he manage to turn in the absolute best stretch of his already highly-successful collegiate career on the biggest stage?
“I try to pitch big in the big games, but they have a really pitcher-friendly park. That will help a ton. You’ve just got to throw a lot of strikes over there,” he said simply.
Strike 2 for the interviewer.
If Faedo wasn’t ready to or comfortable enough putting his postseason performance in perspective, his teammates were happy to take over the task.
Alex Faedo’s near-perfect postseason
*Indicates relief appearance
|NCAA Regionals||South Florida||7||1/1||4||2||10|
|NCAA Super Regionals||Wake Forest||4||0/0||4||1||9|
|NCAA Super Regionals*||Wake Forest||2||0/0||1||1||3|
|College World Series||TCU||7||0/0||2||2||11|
|College World Series||TCU||7.1||0/0||3||4||11|
“I’ve always known that that’s the kind of competitor that’s in there,” Gators shortstop Dalton Guthrie said. “It’s not that he doesn’t compete the same sometimes when he might get hit around, but there’s something about big games where he’s the ultimate competitor and that’s the guy you want on the mound. He’s on a different level than anyone I’ve seen.”
Said second baseman Deacon Liput: “His numbers are unreal. He’s proven himself day in and day out, so for him to have an outing like that I would say for Alex it’s just a normal outing for him. He does it almost every time.”
Indeed, Faedo didn’t just have an incredible postseason; the junior right-hander had a superlative season in general for the Gators while finishing 9-2 with a 2.26 ERA and 157 strikeouts with 42 walks over 123 2/3 innings.
He broke Rob Bonanno’s single-season program record of 148 strikeouts, set in 1994, and finished as the NCAA leader in that category.
And for that matter, he’s had a dominant three seasons in Gainesville while finishing as the program’s career record holder for winning percentage (28-6, .824), second in strikeouts per nine innings (10.84), third in total strikeouts (349), tied for third in total wins and tied for the eighth-best ERA in the last 40 seasons (2.80).
The 18th overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft by the Detroit Tigers, Faedo is expected to sign a multi-million-dollar contract soon and launch the next phase of his career.
And what a way to close out this chapter.
This Gators’ national championship was built on pitching and defense. The 68 total strikeouts by Florida pitchers in the College World Series are the third most of any team in history, trailing only Arizona State’s 77 in 1967 and Arizona’s 75 in 2016.
Sophomore starters Brady Singer and Jackson Kowar, sophomore closer Michael Byrne and late-emerging freshman fireballer Tyler Dyson were all highly impressive as well and each essential to the Gators’ finish in Omaha.
Coach Kevin O’Sullivan said of his starting rotation of Faedo, Singer and Kowar this year, “It’s as good a three as we’ve ever had, and we’ve had some really good ones.”
Faedo had the starring role, though, and there was nobody better when the spotlight was the brightest.
Another reporter took a shot at prying some deep reflection out of the ace Wednesday, asking about that CWS Most Outstanding Player award.
“I would have never expected that. That was an amazing trophy that they’re giving me over there. It’s really heavy. It’s really cool. It’s unbelievable,” Faedo said. “I never would have thought that would happen to me, but I’m just glad we won.”
And the fact that his name will now forever be on the list of all-time College World Series stars?
“That’s amazing. At least it came out in a W and we won a championship because of it,” he said.
Faedo doesn’t need to say much more about his accomplishments because the numbers say it all.
“He’s one of the most humble guys I’ve ever been around and he was able to go out there and pitch his heart out and just do what he normally does,” Liput said.