The Florida Gators (34-16/19-6 SEC) assured themselves at least a share of the SEC regular season crown with a 1-0 win over the Vanderbilt Commodores (36-14/14-11 SEC) on Thursday night.
The win was fueled by freshman sensation Logan Shore, who earned his league-leading seventh conference win on the night. Shore worked 7.1 innings, giving up just two hits and two walks, while striking out a career-high eight batters. The 7.1 scoreless innings dropped Shore’s ERA down to just 1.48 on the season.
“It starts with Logan Shore. He was outstanding on the mound,” Florida manager Kevin O’Sullivan said after the game. “His arm looked fresh tonight. On a short week, the fastball came out of his hand well, he located both sides of the plate, his change-up was outstanding and he threw some quality breaking balls. This is the best he’s thrown all year and he’s thrown some really good ones.”
Shore worked a scoreless first half before the Gator bats got to work in the bottom half of the frame.
Richie Martin worked a one-out walk and moved over to second on a Harrison Bader ground out. Taylor Gushue lined the first pitch he saw into right center to score Martin. With two Friday night aces on the mound, the run proved the only one we would see on the night and the only run the Gators would need.
“It felt great,” Gushue said of his first inning RBI. “I didn’t know it would be the only one since it was so far in the beginning. We had some opportunities that we missed, but we’ll learn from it and hopefully we can get them again tomorrow.”
Shore worked into the eighth inning before being pulled after throwing 101 pitches. Left-hander Bobby Poyner relieved him and put up an impressive performance of his own. Poyner tossed 1.2 innings of hitless ball, striking out three (including the first two batters he faced) to earn the save.
The win not only mathematically assures Florida at least a share of the SEC East regular season crown but also broke a 46-year old record by being the 12th consecutive conference win for the orange and blue. It’s an accomplishment not lost on the team.
“To get 12 wins in a row in the SEC is amazing,” Gushue said. “Just playing in this conference, it’s hard to win a game, not to mention 12 in a row. Logan has been a big part of that. The best thing about our team, though, is that it’s not just one guy. Everyone is contributing. Everyone competes; that’s just how our team works.”
Florida will go for the series win tomorrow night but the starting pitcher has yet to be determined. After the game O’Sullivan said that he would choose between two left-handers, Danny Young and A.J. Puk, for the Friday night start.