Shore returns to Omaha

Bobby Poyner and Josh Tobias are the only Florida players that have been involved in a game at TD Ameritrade Park, but Logan Shore is more familiar than the rest.

Florida’s ace right-hander, who is expected to get the ball when the Gators open the College World Series on Saturday at 8 p.m. against Miami, was in the stands for the 2011 College World Series. His mom got him tickets to the event for his birthday, and Shore made the 5-6 hour drive from Coon Rapids, Minn., to Omaha, Neb.

Shore was still in the recruiting process. He was enamored by the Southeastern Conference and wanted the chance to pitch for one of the league’s elite teams. Shore was in the stands as Florida beat Vanderbilt in the tournament semifinals and clinched a berth in the championship series against South Carolina.

“It was always kind of a dream of mine to go out there and watch some college teams play,” Logan Shore said on Tuesday, just two days before returning to Omaha. “It just so happened that I got to watch Florida and then I came to Florida.”

Kevin O’Sullivan wasn’t recruiting Shore at that point. The right-hander has mentioned to O’Sullivan a few times since that he was there watching, and that’s when Florida started to emerge in Shore’s mind as a place he wanted to pitch. O’Sullivan saw him pitch shortly after that College World Series and the rest was history.

But it might not have happened if Shore wasn’t in Omaha that week to watch the Gators play.

“That’s kind of what happens,” O’Sullivan said. “You get on a run, you get out there, you get so much exposure on TV. Kids try to figure out which teams they like, what schools they like. I definitely think that played a huge part in him coming to school here.”

On Thursday, the Gators will fly out to Omaha and the memories of an unforgettable trip will begin to return for Shore. It also means he’ll have a chance to play in front of friends and family that is expected to drive down from Minnesota.

“It’s going to be fun,” Shore said. “We’re going to be in Omaha. I’m super excited, I know the rest of the guys are excited. I think that’s the main thing, just go out there and try to win a National Championship.

“It’s crazy. (TD Ameritrade Park is) packed every single game and we play the night game on Saturday so it’s going to be packed and a lot of people there. It’s going to be fun.”

O’Sullivan would only say that Shore would “probably” get the start on Saturday against Miami, and it will likely be Shore against Miami ace left-hander Andrew Suarez. The two were supposed to face off in Gainesville during the second week of the season, but Suarez was injured during warmups and Shore injured his hip on the ninth pitch of the game.

The matchup could happen this Saturday in Omaha.

“I want the ball,” Shore said. “It’s going be a lot of fun to be out there with all my teammates that have been out there and have been with all year. Everyone is excited.”

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