The Gators sent freshman Logan Shore to the mound and tonight was not his night as he gave up three runs on 10 hits in five innings. All three of the runs that the Cougars scored came in the first inning. Shore would settle down after the first inning and go on to strike out six, but the damage had already been done.
Junior Justin Shafer, who usually plays as an outfielder, came on in relief for Shore in the sixth and was superb as he retired every batter he faced and struck out five. Despite Shafer's ability to halt the Cougar offense, the Gators couldn't muster up enough offense to win the game.
I don't know where to begin with the offensive struggles. The Gators left 11 men on base in total including the bases loaded twice in the third and fourth innings. Florida also lost another run scoring opportunity in the bottom of the fifth inning when Braden Mattson came up with two runners on base and crushed a ball to centerfield that was caught then bobbled on the transfer. It was a long single and Mattson was called out because he accidentally ran past Taylor Gushue at first base. The Gators would score a run in the inning, but Mattson's running gaffe might have cost the Gators a couple more runs. This, of course, is all speculation and I don't blame Mattson as the Gator team as a whole was not hitting well on the night. The box score may say they had nine hits but it sure didn't feel like it on this night.
Even though the Gators lost, I will note that juniors Casey Turgeon, Harrison Bader, and Josh Tobias all had two hits a piece tonight. Sophomores Richie Martin and Mike Fahrman drove in the only two Gator runs tonight as both players had one RBI.
The game was supposed to originally have started at 7 p.m. but inclement weather delayed it for three hours. This worked out because I actually got to see the game. I cannot say the same for the players as the game started a little after 10 p.m. and ended a little after 1 a.m. Whether this time change and the delay affected the Gators is not for me to say.
With their backs against the wall, it is now put up or shut up time for the #2 nationally seeded Gators (40-22) as they will face the North Carolina Tar Heels (34-26) to keep their season alive. I have no idea who the Gators might start on the mound for this game. I have a hunch it might be freshman A.J. Puk but we will just have to wait and see. Game time is at 1 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN3. The College of Charleston Cougars, now in a very good position after this huge win, will take on the Long Beach State Dirtbags at 7 p.m. following the Florida/North Carolina game.
*Stats accredited to NCAA.com
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