Sorenson: Hurricanes Wash Up On Shore
CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Like a one-hit wonder 80s hair band, it’s the same old song for the Gators here in Coral Gables. Once again they faced off with their hated in-state rival and pulled another no-doubt win out of their quiver without much drama, talking a 5-0 squashing at Mark Light Stadium.
Last year the Gators went 4-1 against the Canes, including a pair of ugly blowouts in Omaha by 15-3 and 10-2 scores. Tonight, it only took 12 pitches to score the deciding runs of the game as Peter Alonso slapped a two-run ding-dong off the scoreboard in left-center to put the Gators up to stay in the first inning. And that was all there was to it. The Gators cruised from there, extending their lead with two in the fourth and a JJ Schwarz home run in the sixth.
But I’m burying the lede here. The real story was mound mastery of Florida starter Logan Shore. Any other scoring after the first inning was merely window dressing as the Gator Friday stud was so dead-on, the Cane batters needed a divining rod to find their swings. Okay, bad analogy, but the point is that Shore was swamping the Hurricanes early and often, forcing the orange and green to go three-up, three-down in seven of the nine innings.
Odd thing was, Shore was far from overpowering. Of his 95 pitches I can honestly say I never saw him throw harder than 89 mph on the radar gun, though reports from scouts in attendance had him more at 88-91, and up to 92 mph. But he was obviously making the Canes look silly all night long, mixing his pitches masterfully and gathering eight strikeouts along the way.
“That’s about as good as he’s pitched since he’s been here,” Coach Kevin O’Sullivan said afterward. “He went to both sides of the plate with his fastball, threw some really quality change-ups, threw some good sliders and I think he just got better as the game went on.”
Sully admitted that 90 pitches was about his maximum and if he had gotten into any trouble in the ninth inning they would’ve had to pull him. But Carl Chester’s bloop single was the only pock-mark in that final frame and Shore was able to induce Christian Barr into a high pop-up to end the game a couple pitches later.
“After pitching against them in the World Series last year and them hitting me around pretty good,” a relieved Shore said afterward. “It felt really good to come down here and get the weekend started out right for our team.”
The only hiccup on the night for Shore was in the fourth inning when leadoff man Chester started things off with a double and Barr moved him over with a single. That made for a first and third with no out situation for the Hurricanes. But that was where Shore did the whole bear down thing. Facing the intimidating form of All-American slugger Zack Collins, Shore was able to get him to pop up harmlessly to first base. Then, he got Barr leaning off first base and picked him off for the second out. That left Jacob Hayward to try to salvage the scoring threat, but like Collins, he popped up too, ending the inning with no runs, stranding Chester 90 feet from home plate.
“I fell into a little trouble in the fourth but I was glad I was able to battle out of that,” Shore said of his only threat to the shutout. “Obviously he (Collins) is one of the best hitters in the country so you have to get ahead of him, can’t get behind him or you’re in trouble. Getting him to pop out was a best case scenario.”
When asked if he thought maybe he’d get pulled as the pitch count got near 90, “No shot,” he said straight faced.”I don’t know what the pitch count was, but no shot.”
Perhaps the most impressive stat of Shore’s night had to be when he faced off with the most potent sticks on the Hurricane batting order, Zack Collins and Willie Abreu. Against those two lumberjacks, Shore got two strikeouts, three harmless pop-ups and a 4-6-3 double play. Again, nothing was overpowering. He just found his corners and kept them guessing and guessing and guessing.
Leadoff man Carl Chester finished the night with three hits from his No. 1 spot, but other than that the rest of the Hurricanes went 1-for-25.
ANOTHER PRECOCIOUS FROSH.
One big development so far this season for the Gators – and not that they needed another dynamic freshman to emerge to the big time – has been second baseman Deacon Liput. In the fourth inning, he sliced a duck snort single into right field, scoring JJ Schwarz and Peter Alonso to put UofF up 4-0. By doing so he also pulled in his 11th and 12th RBI in just six games. Liput is now 9-for-19 at the plate.
After the game, I asked him if he felt like he was a freshman, especially considering the way he has played so far.
“Ummm, honestly I don’t really feel like a freshman,” he grinned. “I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of these older guys welcome me in and it has really helped a lot and helped me become comfortable in all situations.”
Just between you and me, I think it’s pretty cool that some parents went old school and named their son “Deacon”. The only other one I know is NFL Hall of Famer Deacon Jones.
Now that we’ve talked about Florida’s domination a good bit, lets take a wing around the country and see some of the best of the rest…
The best of the day in college baseball.
1- Wright State
As I mentioned in my Off The Top Of My Head, don’t sleep on the Raiders. This is a veteran team that has played plenty of power-five conference teams over the years and has always played them tough. Well today, they exceeded that directive and beat No. 9-ranked North Carolina State 10-8. WSU entered the bottom of the eighth inning up 10-4 and had some panic time as the Pack chipped their way back with a pair of ninth inning home runs. But Jack Van Horn came out of the pen to nail down the final two outs and secure the win.
2- College of Charleston
Whether Monte Lee is there or not, the Cougars are still going to be a burr in the saddle of the big money boys. Today, it was Florida State falling 2-1 to CofC in Tallahassee. Four Cougar pitchers combined to hold the Seminoles to just three measly hits. The only thing that caused any drama was the six walks they issued. Catcher Ervin Roper did his part, going 2-for-2 and scoring both of Charleston’s runs. Last year, the victim was South Carolina on opening day, but CofC went on to lose Saturday and Sunday. Let’s see if the Cougs can pull out a series win this time in T-town.
3- DeVito shines in DeVictory
New Mexico’s Chris DeVito went 5-for-5 with a grand slam and seven RBI as the Lobos destroyed Wichita State by a rather football-like 17-7 score. And that score doesn’t even come close to describing what a blowout this was. Consider that five of the Shockers runs came with two out in the ninth inning and you realize how ugly this one was. UNM has now recorded double-digit hit totals in all five games so far this year.
– Anthony Kay, UConn pitcher.
The Huskies All American ace struck out 10 Missouri State batters over six innings of work to help lead UConn to a resounding 12-4 win. The Bears were able to score three runs off of Kay, but all three were unearned. He gave up just three hits and his 10Ks tied a career best. Also, quite impressively, the Huskies scored 11 of their 12 runs with two out.
– Samford’s Heath Quinn.
The Bulldog swatter blasted four home runs on the day, three coming in a game two nightcap vs. BYU. The Dogs lost game one in 10 innings 4-3, but rebounded in game two, winning 10-5. According to the release of their games yesterday, Quinn came within a foot of having a four home run game in game two, but settled for three fingers and a double to account for seven RBI in the game. For the day, the All American outfielder finished 6-for-10 with four home runs and eight RBI.
– Georgia Tech’s Brandon Gold.
Against UMBC tonight, the Jacket Friday ace went eight innings, striking out seven and walking none to earn his first win of the season. Through two appearances Gold has allowed one unearned run and struck out 15 batters in 13.0 innings of work.
The worst of the day in college baseball.
1- East Coast time.
I know, I know. I complain about this every time I hit the right coast. But it still feels like I am being sent to bed early for bad behavior here. After taking a red-eye last night and getting very little sleep, I actually hit a wall last night before I could finish this column. That’s why I am just now posting it here this morning. Dammit.
2- Aggies Streak is Busted.
For the first time in 36 games the Texas A&M Aggies have lost a non-conference game, this time by a 7-5 mark at Pepperdine. But it wasn’t just that the winning streak got extinguished, it was also a healthy 4-0 lead. After a rough start, Waves starter A.J. Puckett settled into a groove and the bats were able to lead Pepperdine to a huge weekend-opening W. The usually light-hitting Waves got home runs blasts from Brad Anderson and Manny Jefferson to come roaring back from behind.
3- The Sunflower State and their football scores.
Man, what a horrid day for the three D1 teams in Kansas. The Jayhawks lost 15-1 to Utah, the K-State Wildcats lost to an angry Oregon State team 14-0 and as mentioned above even Wichita State got run roughshod by New Mexico, 17-7. Doing my math here (which is always suspect), the three D1 schools in the state lost by a combined 46-8.