Ryan Larson's grand slam powered a seven run fourth inning as the Florida Gators cruised past the Ole Miss Rebels 11-2 in the opening game of a three-game weekend series.
Alex Faedo dominated on the mound, tossing six shutout innings while striking out nine, only surrendering three hits. Faedo improves to 7-1 on the season.
Florida strikes for seven runs in fourth
After Mississippi starter James MacArthur retired the first 10 Florida hitters, he immediately found trouble in the bottom of the fourth, loading the bases.
Christian Hicks came up with two outs and immediately fell behind in the count 0-2. But nine foul balls later — as the crowd got louder and louder with each — he had battled back to draw a walk, pushing across the first run of the game in a 15-pitch at-bat.
“Maybe the at-bat of the year,” Gators coach Kevin O'Sullivan would say after the game.
Larson then followed with a no-doubt-about-it grand slam to left to give the seventh ranked Gators a 5-0 nothing and they would never look back, tacking on two more runs in the inning.
Faedo dominates on the mound
Before the big bottom half of the fourth inning, Faedo escaped his only real jam of the game when he put runners on first and second with no outs. Bearing down, the Florida ace got Colby Bortles to fly out to left, sent Tim Rowe down swinging and struck out Nick Fortes looking to close the inning.
“That was huge because I knew that was a long inning and defenders get antsy out there and their legs probably start getting tired, so I was just happy I could put a zero up on the board and they picked me up by putting a 7-spot right after that,” Faedo said.
O'Sullivan pleased with overall performance
Following the game, the Gators head man was more than happy as his seventh-ranked Gators pulled into a first place tie with Kentucky in the SEC East: “It was probably our most complete game we played all year,” “Alex was really good. It was the best fastball he’s had in a while — I think it was 92-95 — and obviously his slider’s always good. He threw some quality change-ups to a couple of lefties in the lineup. … But offensively, 8 of our 9 guys got hits. We had some really good approaches tonight — some really good approaches in that fourth inning. We got a lot of 2-strike hits, a lot of 2-out hits.”
The only negative about tonight is we can’t take any of these 11 runs into tomorrow so we’ve got to start over". “But I am pleased with how we’ve started to improve offensively, and it was a fun night. The crowd got into it, and the players got into it after that Christian Hicks at-bat. It was just awesome. I was just hoping it would end on a positive note because you don’t see those at-bats very often.”