GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Light rainfall lingered over McKethan Stadium into the early afternoon hours on Saturday, but Mother Nature, unlike Friday evening, was a little more generous this time around, giving the Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs clear (albeit cloudy) skies to commence their weekend series.
Freshman right-hander Logan Shore (3-2, 1.67) has flourished in the Friday night role this season and as such, has been stellar in eight starts coming into Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader. Chalk that number up to nine solid starts for the young freshman out of Coon Rapids, Minnesota.
After surrendering a leadoff single to Stephen Wrenn to start the ball game, Shore got Hunter Cole to pop up to Peter Alonso at first for the first out of the inning. Wren was able to steal second for his 14th steal of the year, but was gunned down at third by Taylor Gushue with Conor Welton at the plate, who went down swinging to end the inning.
The Gators threatened in the bottom of the first with runners on first and second after a leadoff bunt single from Richie Martin and a walk from Taylor Gushue with two outs, but Braden Mattson went down swinging on a 1-2 pitch from Ryan Lawlor to end the inning and potential threat.
Georgia threatened in the top of the third, as Jess Posey opened the frame with a leadoff walk, followed by a Skyler Weber single to right to put runners on first and second with no outs. Shore responded by getting Mike Bell to strikeout on a bunt foul and Wrenn to fly out to center, but Hunter Cole slapped a single to left to plate Posey from second for the firs run of the ball game. Shore followed by getting Welton to fly out to left to get out of the jam and end the inning.
The Bulldogs added another run in the top of the fourth on an RBI single by Weber to left, plating Nelson Ward for the 2-0 lead. Shore pitched his way out of the jam by getting Bell to ground out to short for the force out at second.
Gushue led off the bottom of the fourth with a double to left (his 12th of the season), extending his hitting streak to 12 games. Mattson squeezed a bunt single down the right field line to put runners on the corners and grabbed his fourth steal of the season with Alonso at the plate, putting two runners in scoring position with no outs. Alonso grounded a 3-1 pitch to second, plating Gushue and advancing Mattson to third. Justin Shafer responded with an RBI single to center, plating Mattson to tie the ball game at 2-2.
Freshman third baseman John Sternagel opened the bottom of the fifth with his first career home run, a solo shot to left to break open the game and give the Gators a 3-2 lead. The homer was the first allowed by Lawlor on the season, who responded by sitting down the next three batters in order to end the inning.
Bobby Poyner entered the game in the top of the sixth in relief of Shore, who went 5.0 innings of two-run ball, fanning three batters and surrendering two free passes. Poyner registered a career-high six strikeouts (he finished with seven) after 3.0 innings of relief, including four straight between the seventh and eighth innings.
Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan kept Poyner on the mound for the top of the ninth, as the junior southpaw held the Georgia offense in check for a 1-2-3 inning to end the game and seal the 3-2 victory for the Gators.
The Gators and Bulldogs will commence Game 2 of Saturday’s doubleheader at 7:00 p.m. at McKethan Stadium.