O’Sullivan gives Shore the nod in NCAA opener

The Florida coaching staff spent the early part of the week going back and forth about who it would start on Friday night against Florida A&M.

Some No. 1 seeds in a regional hold their ace for later in the weekend and start their No. 3 or No. 4 pitcher. That thought was there for Kevin O’Sullivan. He considered heavily, even leaned toward giving freshman Alex Faedo the ball when thinking about it earlier in the week.

But as the start of the Gainesville Regional crept closer, O’Sullivan just didn’t feel right about taking a win on Friday for granted. He wanted to keep his ace, Logan Shore, on his normal schedule and give the Gators their best chance to win on Friday at 7 p.m. Florida (44-16) is currently riding a six-game losing streak in NCAA Tournament games and giving the ball to Shore on Friday was the best way to keep the team’s momentum after winning last week’s SEC Tournament.

“Just real simple when it comes right down to it,” Kevin O’Sullivan said about the decision. “We’ve had a lot of success this year, we’ve won 44 games doing it with Shore pitching game one, and I just felt like when you get to this time of the year, we just want to put our best foot forward and stay the course and do what we’ve been doing the whole year.”

As the No. 4 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, the Gators get a Florida A&M team that went 23-23 during the season and earned an NCAA Tournament bid by winning the MEAC Tournament. The Rattlers have won six straight games and beat the Gators 4-3 during a midweek game last season.

Shore didn’t pitch in that game, but he’s excited to help Florida experience a different outcome on Friday night.

“Obviously very excited, first game of the regional is going to be a blast to get back out there and try to get game one,” Shore said. “He told me yesterday that we were going to go with me. I’m excited.”

The Gators still remember what happened in that midweek game last season, and the players in the locker room have talked it about this week.

“That’s obviously been on our mind when we see Florida A&M coming up in our bracket,” Shore said. “If we go out there and take care of business, do what we need to do, I think we do have a pretty good chance of winning.”

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