Sophomore catcher Mike Rivera got the Gator offense rolling early with a three-run homer in the opening inning. The Crimson responded by scoring two runs in each of the next two innings to bring the game to within one run. At this point in the contest, Shore looked quite anxious and his control suffered.
Fortunately, few things can settle a pitcher down like a six run inning and that is exactly what Shore received from his offense in the third. Led by Dalton Guthrie and Pete Alonso RBI doubles, the Gators broke the game open and didn’t look back.
The Florida pitching staff held Harvard to one run after some early success. The Gators put the game out of reach during a four-run 6th inning, highlighted by a JJ Schwarz double that brought two runners home. Sophomore pitcher Scott Moss was electric, recording five strikeouts during a commanding effort in the 7th and 8th innings.
Florida Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan discussed the need to alter the mechanics of several batters over the last few days after some early struggles. Those alterations were clearly rewarded with one of the highest offensive outputs of the season.
“I was really pleased. We spent a lot of time yesterday talking about approaches, and a couple of guys were doing some things mechanically that needed to be addressed. We had some guys that may have been struggling a little bit have good nights, so that is really encouraging.”
When pressed on specifics, he wasn’t shy to gloat on those whose hard work paid off.
Shore (6 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 6 K) pitched himself into and out of numerous tricky situations, the latter of which will be an invaluable skill throughout this championship run. Another staggering statistic on a night rife with them is that Shore has just won his ninth straight start dating back to last season. Despite giving up a season high five earned runs, he was dominant in the latter innings of his performance tonight, dominance that is ongoing for opposing batters.
The Florida offense had many heroes on a night that brought a season-high in hits with twenty. None more so than freshman second baseman Deacon Liput, who continued his scintillating form this year by leading the team with four hits and four RBI. Liput began the year batting 8th, but has quickly made his mark, supplanting older teammates for the number five spot in the lineup. The offensive output was a welcome change from the two game series against North Florida during the week, which saw the bats struggle and depend heavily on the pitching staff. The opposite looked to be in store with Shore struggling and 11 runs through the first three innings.
A.J. Puk takes the mound in the first game (4:00 PM) of a doubleheader Saturday. The second game was rescheduled from Sunday due to weather conditions and will take place at 7:00 PM or forty-five minutes after the first game ends.