Notebook: Shore dominant in debut

A year ago, Logan Shore was working out indoors with his Coon Rapids (MN) High School team while snow continued to fall outside. The high school baseball schedule wasn't supposed to start until early April, even though it was eventually postponed a month after that because of snow. On Tuesday, the freshman right-hander made his collegiate debut in Gainesville with temperatures in the mid 60s.

"It was good to finally pitch in some warm weather in the spring," Logan Shore said with a smile.

It was good for his the rest of the Florida team, too.

The freshman right-hander threw 5.1 innings, allowing three hits, no walks and no earned runs while striking out four hitters. Shore threw 52 of his 77 pitches for strikes, keeping the UCF hitters on their toes all night.

Most of the Florida freshmen had rough first outings over the weekend. In Shore's first collegiate outing, he looked like a college veteran. The poise that was so obvious when Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan recruited Shore was even more noticeably present on Tuesday at McKethan Stadium.

He gave up a leadoff single to UCF second baseman Dylan Moore, but after that, Shore retired 10 of the next 11 batters he faced. The one that did reach was erased on a double play.

"That's about as impressive of an outing for a freshman as you'll probably see," O'Sullivan said. "I'm not going to say I knew he would pitch this well tonight, but it's not surprising. He's been really good. It's the reason he was so heavily by so many people. We don't go out of state very often and certainly not go to Coon Rapids, Minn. for a right-hander."

The former hockey player was able to lean on his roommates for help. Fellow freshmen pitchers Dane Dunning and A.J. Puk made their collegiate debuts in relief over the weekend, and with one day between the series finale against Maryland and Tuesday's game, Shore used his time wisely.

He got every detail that Dunning and Puk could remember from their outings -- the emotions, the anxiousness and the nerves. When Shore toed the rubber on Tuesday, it was just like his roommates said.

"They said that when you get in there, your adrenaline is going to get up a little bit," Shore said. "After that first hitter, it should settle in and start throwing strikes. And that's what happened."

Shore was available to pitch over the weekend against the Terrapins but starting against the Knights gave Florida an opportunity to see how he would handle the role. He's pitching well enough to earn a promotion to the weekend rotation at some point this season.

"If he came in my office after we announced the opening weekend (rotation) and asked why he wasn't pitching in there, I wouldn't have a legitimate answer for him," O'Sullivan said. "Things just lined up that way. I'm so pleased with how he threw tonight."

The view from behind the plate was as impressive as anywhere else in the stadium. Wherever catcher Taylor Gushue set up, he didn't need to move much to catch the pitch.

"Man, it was unbelievable," Gushue said. "Every single thing that I asked him to do, he did. He was perfect for us. We really needed him to have a good start tonight and he did that. Shore did an awesome job, and I can't wait to catch him next time."

MATTSON CREATING A ROLE: Braden Mattson will be used in different spots on the field, but he's hitting well enough during the first four games to force his name in the lineup. He brings right-handed power to a lineup that needs some pop.

It wouldn't have happened without a creative route to Gainesville. Mattson, a San Antonio, Texas native, signed with TCU out of high school and played for the Horned Frogs as a freshman. He decided to leave after his first season in Fort Worth and enrolled at San Jacinto College, a junior college with a baseball pedigree.

Mattson continued to stay in touch with TCU volunteer assistant Chuck Jeroloman, the brother of former Florida catcher Brian Jeroloman. In their conversations, Jeroloman mentioned his relationship with the Florida staff, which started when he played for Florida third base coach Craig Bell in high school.

Jeroloman spoke to Bell, who made the trip to Texas and watched Mattson play. He liked what he saw and offered him a spot at Florida. It originally came as the team's backup catcher, but Mattson is proving that his bat is good enough to be in the lineup at any position.

"He's so ready for this," Gushue said. "The kid is born to play baseball. His head is in the game all the time and he loves it. He brings a lot of hard-nosed attitude to this baseball team. It's a great part."

Mattson went 2-3 against UCF on Tuesday and drove in two key runs with an RBI single to give the Gators a 4-1 lead. He played right field on Sunday, will give Gushue a break whenever he needs it, and can also play left field, first base or even center field if the Gators get desperate.

"He's very versatile," O'Sullivan said. "If you see him run the bases, he can run. He's that guy that has some power, some grit and is older. It breaks up those young guys in the lineup. We're really pleased with him."

Mattson is expected to get increased starts at first base when the Gators are facing left-handed pitchers. As long as the Gators don't put him on the field at second base, shortstop or third base, Mattson feels comfortable.

"Any place where you don't have to actually field a ball," Mattson said with a laugh about where he can play. "First base you can just knock them down. I like to catch, but I can play wherever they need me to play."

KISH INJURY: Florida right-hander Keenan Kish saw his collegiate career come to an end when doctors told him last week that he would need Tommy John surgery. The injury ends his Florida career, but he will stay with the team as a student assistant.

"It's just a shame," O'Sullivan said. "I feel for him. I wish there was something I could say to make it better. He is going to be with us the entire year. He's going to be used in a lot of different capacities. He's a Gator through and through.

"No one feels worse for him than we do. It's just a shame, such a shame. He's a vital part of our program, and we're going to use him in every way possible."

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