Despite another strong outing from Logan Shore, the Florida Gators (38-15, 17-11 SEC) fell short on Thursday night losing to Auburn (34-20, 13-15 SEC) 4-1.
Florida went 3-7 in SEC series opening games this season.
Freshman Dalton Guthrie gave the Gators the lead in the fifth inning with a two-out single that scored Mike Rivera. Shore, who gave up a one-out single in the top of the first, was cruising through the game, retiring 13-consecutive batters at one point.
“I came out there attacking and tried to locate my stuff,” Shore said. “I didn’t have my best fastball tonight, but I kept the ball down. I was fortunate enough to get the outs.”
Shore would get into some trouble in the sixth inning, when he lost the command that had kept the Tigers off balance to hat point.
Austin Murphy led the inning off with a walk and advanced to third base following two groundouts. With two outs Shore plunked Kyler Deese on the forearm and Deese stole second to give Auburn two runners in scoring position.
Shore settled down and induced what would be an inning-ending fly ball but a miscommunication between Buddy Reed and Ryan Larson led the two outfielders to collide on the would be third out. Melvin Gary was given credit for a two-out, two-run double as Larson lay on the outfield grass motionless for several minutes. Larson would be able to stay in the game but the mental lapse between he and Reed had given Auburn the lead.
“The obvious turning point was when we had two outs in the sixth and the outfielders collided,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “It’s unfortunate, but you just can’t have those types of mistakes at this time of the year.”
Bobby Poyner replaced Shore in the seventh inning. The senior — who has pitched great all season — struggled. Poyner faced four batters, gave up four hits and two runs before he was yanked from the game.
To their credit, Florida hit the ball hard all night; they just didn’t have many balls find open space and couldn’t muster back a comeback.
The Gators have lost seven series openers in conference play, so going into game two down 1-0 isn’t new to them. Florida will turn to sophomore A.J. Puk — who has been sensational his last two starts posting a line of 13 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 23 K, 1.38 ERA.