Shore cruises to Friday night win

Logan Shore's strong freshman season continued on Friday. The right-hander tossed 7.1 innings, allowing just one runner to reach scoring position to lower his team-leading ERA to 1.76. The Florida offense broke out of a two-game slump and used a bizarre play in the second inning to beat Missouri 7-1 and take game one of the weekend series.

The win also gave Florida sole possession of first place in the Southeastern Conference since Alabama lost at South Carolina.

Shore allowed one run in 7.1 innings, giving up five hits (all singles) and no walks while striking out five hitters. He retired 17 of the last 20 Missouri hitters he faced. Three of his five hits allowed were leadoff singles, but only one of the three made it to second base.

"That's huge. Giving up a single wasn't what I wanted, but how you come back from that is how the game goes," Logan Shore said.

Shore has now gone at least five innings in all 10 starts this season. All five of his wins have come in SEC play.

The one run Shore allowed came after he allowed a one-out single in the eighth inning and was replaced by Kirby Snead. A single and a wild pitch scored the only run Shore allowed.

His fastball command was sharper than in recent outings, but it was the changeup that set him apart to get outs. He threw it in the rare times he was behind in the count, creating weak contact from Missouri hitters that were sitting on the fastball.

"He threw a lot of great changeups tonight," Florida catcher Taylor Gushue said. "They weren't good, they were great.

The Florida program is no stranger to dominating freshmen pitching under Kevin O'Sullivan. Karsten Whitson was named National Freshman Pitcher of the Year in 2011, one year after Hudson Randall dominated and battled for the conference ERA lead in SEC games. But none of them had the success Shore is having on Friday nights.

"It's hard for freshmen to pitch on the weekends, let alone Friday nights," O'Sullivan said. "They don't come around very often. It's one thing to pitch on the weekend. It's another to pitch on a Friday night."

The Florida offense benefitted from a bizarre bottom of the second inning. After back-to-back singles by Gushue and Braden Mattson started the inning with runners on first and third, Zack Powers hit a line drive to first baseman Kendall Keeton.

Keeton acted like he caught the ball, stepping on first base to double Mattson off before throwing to third to complete the triple play. O'Sullivan sprinted out of the dugout after seeing the ball hit the ground before it went into Keeton's glove.

"I thought the ball hit the ground," O'Sullivan said. "Obviously the first base umpire doesn't have the best view because he's behind it, so we went out there and reversed the call."

Gushue scored before the throw beat him back to third base, but the umpires made him go back to third base, much to the frustration of O'Sullivan. Mattson was allowed to go to second base.

The frustration was erased when freshman designated hitter Pete Alonso lined a single up the middle to score both runs.

"Huge. It was probably the turning point of the game," O'Sullivan said. "I know it's early, but if you go down there and don't score, then the momentum shifts to Missouri."

Alonso ended the game 3-4 with five RBI and a home run short of the cycle. The highlight came on an RBI triple in the sixth inning that bounced off the wall and went by the center fielder. Alonso, who doesn't have great speed, could've challenged for an inside the park home run but was held up.

"For me, those don't happen very often," Alonso said of the triple. "A triple is probably even more rare than a home run for me. (An inside-the-park home run) would've been even more interesting."

The win eased the frustration of back-to-back midweek losses to Jacksonville and Florida A&M.

"Baseball is awesome. It stinks sometimes, like (Tuesday and Wednesday), but it's great tonight," Gushue said with a grin. "We wanted to put it behind us and forget as soon as possible. It was embarrassing. We wanted to flip the page and had a lot of energy."

O'Sullivan shared the frustrations during the midweek. When asked how the midweek losses can be followed with an easy conference win, O'Sullivan grinned.

"You try coaching 18-19 year olds," he said with a smile.

The Gators will go for the series win on Saturday at 12 p.m. Florida will send redshirt sophomore Aaron Rhodes to the mound.

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