Pitcher Logan Shore isn't used to getting a ton of run support from the Florida offense this season. It averages 6.6 runs per game but only averages 4.2 runs per Shore start, only scoring more than five twice all season when he's on the hill.
On Thursday, Shore got more than his fair share of aid, as the Gators crushed the Auburn Tigers 11-2 in a losers' bracket game at the SEC Tournament.
UF stared down the barrel of elimination less than 12 hours after a 7-6 loss to Arkansas that ended at 2.33 a.m. Eastern. But the quick turnaround didn't harm the UF bats one bit: After a JJ Schwarz sacrifice fly in the second inning scored third baseman Josh Tobias, the Gators pounded Auburn for eight runs in the third, all with two outs on the scoreboard.
Tobias started things off with an RBI single. Then Peter Alonso had a two-RBI single; he would score on a fielding error two batters later. The Gators continued to pile on with a Mike Rivera two-RBI double and a Jeremy Vasquez single to drive in another run. Dalton Guthrie was responsible for pushing the final run across with a single up the middle, and at that point the rout was more than on.
As the seventh inning approached, the game looked like it would be over quickly: The SEC Tournament's 10-run rule would have taken effect after Florida added two more runs to take an 11-1 lead. But Auburn second baseman Melvin Gray saved the Tigers the embarrassment, adding one run on an RBI in the bottom of the sixth.
Shore finished his outing with 7.2 innings pitched and six hits and two earned runs allowed. He went deep into the game and was able to preserve a Florida bullpen that extended itself thanks to a poor start from Dane Dunning Thursday night; Dunning went just 1.1 innings, and UF used five pitchers in total. Shore threw 111 pitches before ceding the mound to Frank Rubio to finish the job over the final 1.1.
The Gators move on to face the loser of Arkansas-LSU in another elimination game Friday night, and likely solidified their grip on a national seed for the NCAA Tournament. While Florida might have been in trouble with a two-and-through performance in Hoover, their Thursday win and TCU's 0-2 run in the Big 12 Tournament would seem likely to create enough breathing room for the Gators to lose Friday and maintain their position in the race for a lower national seed.