Shore propels Gators to game three vs. Noles

Junior starter Logan Shore threw eight scoreless innings of baseball and the Florida Gators beat Florida State 5-0 to extend the NCAA Tournament Super Regional in Gainesville to a game three Monday night.

It was Shore’s 17th consecutive decision and the right hander threw nine strike outs to just two walks over the eight innings. He started the ninth inning after throwing over 100 pitches, but exited after walking the first batter. School record holder for saves Shaun Anderson relieved Shore and finished off the game without allowing a run to cross, securing the shutout win that will allow the Gators and Seminoles to meet Monday for the right to head to the College World Series.

The Florida offense got off the snide a little bit spreading around 10 hits over the nine innings including three doubles by junior Pete Alonso. Florida State freshman starter Tyler Holton pitched well but had a rough start when the defense behind him failed a couple of times and the Gators were swinging a little more aggressively than the night before when they lost 3-0 and had just two hits.

Sophomore Dalton Guthrie would score both of the first two runs in inning one and three  giving Shore a little momentum to push forward, but it was Shore’s aggressive pitching that seemed to keep the Gators lively throughout the game.

It would take the Gators five more innings before they would score again, getting two in the eighth and one in the ninth to finish with the final 5-0 score.

“It was a very well-played game,” Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said following the game. “It was a 2-0 game there for a good part of seven innings. Logan (Shore) threw great and got us into the ninth there with eight scoreless, and then Shaun (Anderson) finished it off. I thought Tyler Holton threw great. It really came down to an at-bat here or there.”

The momentum of the early two runs was important for Florida.

“We talked about that before the game,” O’Sullivan said. “Yesterday was a difficult game for us, and any time you get shut out, you’re just trying to get some sort of momentum. It was important for us to get on the board early.”

“It’s an elimination game,” Alonso added after the game. “You’ve got to put your heart and soul into it. We did that tonight. We laid it all on the line, and it ended up working out. Being on the board and giving the team a jump-start in the first inning set the tone of the ballgame. I feel like that really helped the energy in the dugout and the mentality for the rest of the game.”

Freshman Deacon Liput has been struggling lately but was able to single in the eighth bringing home Alonso and junior Buddy Reed who got on base three times in the game. The two RBI belt by Liput brought much needed breathing room for the Gators who were a couple of batters away from losing the lead up until that point.  

“Obviously Deacon (Liput)’s at-bat there in the eighth was a big one and gave us a little bit of a cushion,” O’Sullivan said. “It was very similar to last night. We got shut out, and tonight some things went our way. We’re in position… the winner tomorrow moves on. We’re excited about the opportunity, and we’ll get ready to play.”

Sophomore J.J. Schwarz, who hasn’t been able to live up to last year’s lofty stats added another insurance run in the ninth with a double that brought home Alonso.

“Every run matters,” O’Sullivan said. “You’re playing against a very, very good team that every run counts, and “you’re just trying to distance yourself a little bit and we did just enough tonight to do that. Even that fifth run is important to not let one swing of the bat tie the ballgame. We were better tonight, but obviously we want to continue that tomorrow.”

Shore seemed on a mission throughout. He struck out eight in the first four innings of the game and Florida State hitters were struggling to get even a piece of the bat on the ball.

“I don’t get to pitch against Florida State during the year because we play them mid-week, but it’s always fun to get my opportunity to pitch against them, especially in an elimination game like this. That’s what I live for,” Shore said.

He threw more pitches (114) than ever but wanted to finish if possible. That is why he went back out in the ninth to give it a try.

“Brad (Weitzel), our assistant coach, informed me that that was going to be the last time I was going to run out there in McKethan at home and that was a pretty special moment,” Shore said. “It gave me chills running out there for the ninth. I’m fortunate that Sully let me go out there and experience that. It’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

The two teams meet again back in McKethan Stadium Monday evening at 7 p.m. for the right to go to Omaha, Nebraska and compete in the College World Series. The game will be aired live on ESPN2. 

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