By Andrew Olson – OnlyGators.com baseball writer
With its collective back against the wall, No. 4 seed Florida Gators baseball (41-16) showed up big after a half-day turnaround and avoided elimination with a 11-2 thumping of the No. 9 seed Auburn Tigers in the loser’s bracket of the 2015 SEC Tournament in Hoover, Alabama.
Less than 11 hours after a devastating 7-6 loss to Arkansas that ended around 1:30 a.m. local time, Florida got up for a 12:30 p.m. start and made a statement by taking an early lead and never looking back.
Here are three takeaways from the Gators’ dominant win:
1. Big in the third: UF and AU played all nine innings, but this game was over after Florida went 7-for-11 and rallied to score eight runs in the top of the third inning. With a comfortable lead and sophomore right-handed pitcher Logan Shore on the mound throwing darts, the Gators knew they were set to survive another day.
2. Run support, finally: Shore was tagged with losses in his previous two outings despite giving up only two earned runs in 14.0 innings. Thursday afternoon, Shore (7.2 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 7 K) kept the runs down again but this time his teammates teed off for 15 hits against the Tigers’ hurlers, providing him with plenty of breathing room. More important than Shore’s individual record is the fact that this was the third-straight quality outing for Florida’s ace, a good sign with the 2015 NCAA Tournament beginning next week.
3. Hot corners: Senior third baseman Josh Tobias (4/4, 2 R, SB) got the Gators rolling with an infield single in the second inning and came around to score UF’s first run. He kept seeing beach balls at the plate, hitting safely in his next three at-bats before getting robbed of extra bases when a ball hit deep to right field was called foul despite replay showing it landed on the line. Sophomore first baseman Peter Alonso (3/3, 3 RBI) also continues to mash at the plate.
Up next: Florida will face the loser of No. 1 seed LSU vs. No. 5 seed Arkansas at approximately 7:30 p.m. on Friday in another elimination game for a spot in the tournament semifinals. The game will air live nationally on SEC Network.