The Florida Gators (12-2) secured another series-opening win on Friday night with a 5-0 win over the Maine Black Bears (4-10). This is Florida’s second consecutive shutout on Friday and sophomore Logan Shore fueled the win with eight scoreless innings to improve his scoreless innings streak to 23.1 dating back to last season.
“It felt really good, especially to go eight and get my pitch count up a little bit. I’ve been at 75 the past couple weeks, so to be able to stretch it out and get up to 95 and extend it into the later innings of the game is definitely a confidence-booster for me, especially for Sully and the rest of the guys.”
Shore gave up a single to start the game but worked out of the frame without allowing a run and worked a perfect 1-2-3 inning in the second to give the Gators’ bats a chance to work.
Florida didn’t hit the ball well all night but they were able to take advantage of three errors by Maine in the second. Christian Hicks reached on a fielding error and a second error allowed Hicks to move to second and Logan Browning to reach first on what should have been a double play ball. Dalton Guthrie laid down a perfect bunt for his second hit of the game (Guthrie’s second hit gave him his team-high seventh multi-hit game of the season). Buddy Reed’s infield single plated Hicks for the first run of the game and Harrison Bader brought home another run with a single through the left side. JJ Schwarz’s sac-fly gave Florida four runs in the inning, more than enough of a lead for Logan Shore.
Shore got into a rhythm, working a season-high (and team-high) eight innings. Shore has yet to allow a run all season and has allowed just two extra base hits.
“He threw all of his pitches for strikes, didn’t misfire and he was really good tonight,” head coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “That’s the outing that we have been waiting for. He hadn’t been as crisp his first few starts, but tonight he was really good.”
The game went quickly and scoreless into the sixth inning before Hicks launched a home run deep into the night and into the visitors bullpen. The home run was the first of the season for Hicks, as well as the first of his career.
“I had a bad at bat the time before, so I was just trying to have a good at bat that time up. I know I hit it pretty well, but I kept running because I didn’t know,” he said. “I kept thinking it could hit the top of the wall, so I just had to keep running.”
Hicks hustled to first but quickly realized that he could slow down into a trot, something the big left-hander will need to work on (maybe he can ask Bader for some home run trot tips).
Eric Hanhold returned to the mound after leaving several weeks ago with tightness in his back. Hanhold gave up a hit in the ninth inning but was able to preserve the shutout and looked sharp doing so.
Florida will host Maine for game two on Saturday at 4 p.m. with left-hander A.J. Puk (2-1, 4.61) set to face off against Maine’s ace lefty, Scott Heath (2-0, 3.32)