Freshman Shore has emerged as top starter


Published: Friday, April 25, 2014 at 8:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 9:32 p.m.

After throwing 5 1/3 innings of three-hit ball and allowing no earned runs in his first collegiate start against UCF back on Feb. 18, Florida freshman pitcher Logan Shore showed little emotion after his impressive effort.

Facts

Friday's game

Who: Missouri (19-21, 6-12 SEC) vs. No. 6 Florida (27-15, 12-6)
When: 7 p.m.
Where: McKethan Stadium
Radio: AM-850
Pitching matchup: Missouri junior right-hander Brett Graves (3-2, 2.66) vs. UF freshman righty Logan Shore (4-2, 1.83)

“There were a couple of pitches I'd like to have back, but I think it was a pretty solid first outing,” Shore said. “I'd like to build off it.”

Oh, has he built.

The 6-foot-1, 210-pound right-hander from Coon Rapids, Minn., has emerged as the No. 1 starter for the Gators, who are ranked No. 6 in the Baseball America poll and tied for the SEC lead heading into this weekend's three-game home series with Missouri.

In nine starts and 59 innings of work — both team-high marks — Shore is 4-2 with a 1.83 ERA and has thrown at least five innings in every start.

“I'm not going to say that I knew he was going to pitch this well, but it's not surprising,” UF coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. “He's been really good and has shown why he was recruited so heavily by so many people.”

Despite not allowing an earned run and scattering 11 hits over 18 1/3 innings with 15 strikeouts in his first three starts, all Shore had to show were two no-decisions and a loss as the Gators gave him little run support and committed some costly errors during their early-season struggles. Otherwise, his record would be even better.

But as UF's fortunes have turned, so have Shore's.

In his first Friday night SEC start against Arkansas on March 14, he earned his first win with 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball in a 2-1 Florida win.

“That was as good a start as we've had around here,” O'Sullivan said. “That was Hudson Randall-like on a Friday night.”

It's not the only time O'Sullivan has made the comparison to the former UF ace.

“We told Logan that a few years ago (2010), Hudson Randall didn't start on the weekend,” he said. “He got his first start in a midweek game against Central Florida and threw five scoreless, and then obviously the rest is history.”

Shore downplayed the similarities.

“That's an honor first off, but I need to improve a lot," he said. "He (Randall) did a lot for this program. He was fun to watch the times I got to watch him on TV or whatever. He spotted up with everything, had three good pitches, and that's the kind of guy I would like to be.

“Sully preaches first-pitch strikes and throwing two-out-of-three strikes, so I just try to stay within myself and not try to do too much.”

Shore, the 2013 Gatorade Player of the Year and Mr. Baseball in Minnesota, was 9-0 with a miniscule 0.27 ERA and hit .429 as a senior at Coon Rapids High School.

He was selected in the 29th round of the 2013 MLB Draft by the Minnesota Twins, but opted for college — and a more conducive baseball climate.

“It's good to finally pitch in some warm weather in the spring, coming from Minnesota,” Shore said. “My senior year, we started like the first week of April, and there was so much snow that we got postponed all the way until May 7. So we got postponed a month, and I think my first start it was still in like 30-degree weather. It's a little bit different coming down here."

His UF teammates are just as impressed as the coaches.

“He can really carve it up,” junior catcher Taylor Gushue said. “He's done such a good job. For a freshman, it's pretty unbelievable, so credit to him.”

Added freshman third baseman John Sternagel: “I knew that Shore was going to be lights-out. You can always count on him when he gets the ball to compete and give his best effort.”

Coon Rapids may never be the same.

“We don't go out of state very often, and certainly are not usually going to Coon Rapids, Minnesota, for a right-hander,” O'Sullivan said. “But there's something special about him. I mean, he's mature, he's very competitive, and he's very talented.”

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