It only lasted two outs into the College World Series. It was easy to see the sophomore’s control wasn’t good in the early innings. Shore hit the leadoff hitter to start the game and missed up in the strike zone with his fastball and slider early. His changeup was sharp throughout the outing, but he had to battle through his start.
Miami left six runners on base in the first four innings while only scoring two runs in that span.
“Logan gave us enough to win,” Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “He gutted it out. We made some pitches when we needed to.”
The jitters plagued the Gators early. Despite talking all week about seeing pitches on offense and working the pitch count of Miami starting pitcher Andrew Suarez, Florida swung early and often, forcing Suarez to throw just 16 pitches in the first two innings. The Florida defense is statistically the best in the country, but there were clear miscues early in the game, too.
Shore is at his best when he’s able to sink the ball and live at the bottom of the strike zone. He was hit hard by missing up early in the game, and the atmosphere and large crowd could’ve played into it.
“This is the biggest crowd I’ve played in front of and a lot of our guys have played in front of, so obviously there’s going to be a lot of nerves,” Logan Shore said. “Errors happen and things happen, but it’s how you bounce back from that. I’m confident in our defense.”
RIGHT FIELD DECISIONS: After leaning on the hot bat of freshman Jeremy Vasquez in right field throughout the NCAA Tournament, O’Sullivan gave Ryan Larson the start on Saturday. Larson, a right-handed hitter, was a better matchup against Suarez. However, Larson is also the better defender in a large outfield at TD Ameritrade Park.
“We have confidence in both,” O’Sullivan said. “With the matchup today, we just felt better with Ryan getting some at-bats. Suarez is really tough on left-handers when he gets that breaking ball going. We wanted to get (Vasquez) and at-bat and get him in right field because we’re going to need him moving forward.”
The common thread through Florida’s offensive success has been the bottom of the lineup. The 7-9 spots in the order -- Mike Rivera, Dalton Guthrie and Larson -- went 7-9 on Saturday with five runs scored and three RBI.
That’s what makes the Florida offense different from past years. Even when Preston Tucker and Mike Zunino were fixtures in the middle of the order, the Gators didn’t have many threatening bats in the bottom of the lineup. That isn’t the case this year.
“We’ve been saying it all year, that’s what makes a good lineup,” O’Sullivan said. “You’re playing with 27 outs. The bottom of our lineup has been very productive. We grind out at-bats.”
FACING VIRGINIA: The Gators now face a red-hot Virginia team on Monday night in the winner’s bracket game at 8 p.m. on ESPN. The Cavaliers were close to missing the ACC Tournament but swept North Carolina in the last regular season series to make it. They won the Lake Elsinore Regional before beating Maryland in a Super Regional.
Virginia continued its hot streak by beating Arkansas 5-3 on Saturday. It will also be the first time O’Sullivan will face his alma mater as a head coach.
“We’ll just treat it like any other game,” O’Sullivan said. They’re very well coached, very good players. They’ve gotten hot. We don’t know a whole lot about them, so we’ll have to do some work between now and Monday night.
“To be honest with you, it’s more about how we’re playing. You can get bogged down with scouting reports, but we need to worry about how we’re playing.”
After stealing 37 bases in the entire year before getting to the College World Series, Virginia stole six bases on Saturday against Arkansas. With Florida left-hander A.J. Puk on the mound, J.J. Schwarz is expected to catch. He’s not as good at throwing out base stealers as Mike Rivera, but O’Sullivan thinks having a lefty on the mound could help Schwarz if Virginia decides to run.
“They hadn’t run that much during the regular season,” O’Sullivan said. “It was interesting. There’s a lot of factors that go into it. A.J. just has to pitch good.