Kan Li / Scout

#1 Gators Take SEC Lead, Beat #7 Vandy 4-2

The #1 ranked Florida Gators (42-8, 17-7) outlasted #7 Vanderbilt 4-2 (36-14, 14-11) in a pitcher’s duel that lived up to the pregame billing. Florida junior starter Logan Shore (W 10-0, 2.29) got the better of sophomore Jordan Sheffield (L 7-4, 2.34), throwing his third complete game of the season in a game that was delayed thirty minutes because of thunderstorms.

Shore (CG, 6 H, 2 ER, 6 K) began the show early, retiring the first twelve batters in order. This was in part due to catcher Mike Rivera (0-2) showing off his cannon of a right arm and throwing out base runners in both the second and third innings. The Gators gave their ace an early lead in the second, when center fielder Buddy Reed (2-3, 2 R, 2B) found home plate after reaching with a leadoff double to left. Reed would be the source of distress for Gator fans in the fourth, when he seemingly hyperextended his knee while attempting to prevent a double play at first. His left foot slid off the wet base and the All-American went down after his knee buckled on contact with the ground. Amateur orthopedists (myself included) across the internet ruled him out for the duration of the season after seeing the replay. When the fifth inning began, Reed took the field. Not only did he return, but he excelled, making difficult catches look easy in front of the over forty scouts present at McKethan tonight. The Commodores temporarily lifted Shore’s embargo in the fifth, notching four of their six hits and gave them a 2-1 lead. Shore would restore order, allowing only one hit in the final four innings.

The lead would not last long, as the seventh would prove to be significant in more ways than one. First baseman Pete Alonso (0-1, 2 BB) got on base to lead off by taking a fastball off his hand. He would be replaced by a pinch runner later in the inning, in a move that hopefully was precaution only. Second baseman Deacon Liput (1-2, R, RBI) would bring him home with a double. Reed would also score, but on his own accord, after being caught in a rundown. The junior took advantage of some miscommunication from the Vanderbilt infield and scored fully extended. Liput would score later in the inning when left fielder Nelson Maldonado (1-3, 2 RBI, K) singled to left, completing the scoring. The freshman understood the importance of the moment and did not fail to seize his chance.

“In that kind of situation, especially facing a really good pitcher like we did, you have to look for that one pitch and not miss it. You have to be short to the ball and do anything you can to put the barrel on it. At that point a ground ball or a fly out works (to score the runner).”

With the win, Shore extends his school-record for consecutive decisions to fifteen. The junior has been the model of consistency over his three years in Gainesville and Florida Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan thought this effort from Shore was nothing short of fantastic.

"Logan [Shore] was unbelievable tonight. He pitched his heart out and gave us a complete-game effort. It was outstanding.”

The game one victory, coupled with #8 South Carolina’s loss to #2 Texas A&M, allows the Gators to move into sole possession of both the SEC East and the conference overall. If that is to last, Florida will likely need the strong pitching to continue, as the slumping offense was responsible for a paltry five hits Friday evening. This recipe is not one the Gators want to depend on and will continue to look for more consistency at the plate.

Game two will be televised nationally on ESNP2 at 4pm Saturday.   

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