Aggies roll into first MCWS finals, get No. 1 Vols

Aggies roll into first MCWS finals, get No. 1 Vols

Sports



OMAHA, Neb. — Texas A&M is going to play for a national championship in baseball for the first time in its program’s 130-year history.

Jim Schlossnagle had a breakthrough, too. The 53-year-old coach has brought seven teams to the Men’s College World Series since 2010 — five when he was at TCU and two in his first three seasons at Texas A&M — and never made it to the finals until now.

“I’m tired of leaving before the championship, so personally it’s awesome. It’s fun to get to be a part of,” he said after his Aggies knocked Florida out with a 6-0 bracket-clinching win Wednesday night. “Excited to play an awesome Tennessee team, one of the best college teams that I’ve — I mean, they really have a great team.”

The Aggies (52-13) will play No. 1 national seed Tennessee (58-12) in the best-of-three championship series starting Saturday. It will be an all-SEC final for the second straight year and third time in four.

Justin Lamkin gave Texas A&M a second straight sensational start against the Gators and Caden Sorrell homered to break open the game.

Hours after Florida banged out 14 hits and scored its third-most runs this season in a 15-4 win over Kentucky, the Gators (36-30) managed just four hits and were shut out for the first time in 145 games.

The last team to blank the Gators? Texas A&M, 10-0 in the 2022 SEC tournament.

“It’s like you’re going full speed ahead, and you win the game this morning, and you go back to the hotel, everybody’s in a good mood, we’re feeling really good about tonight, and it just didn’t go our way,” Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “As simple as that, and Texas A&M deserves to move on.”

Schlossnagle, who lost starter Shane Sdao to an arm injury in the super regionals, turned to Lamkin for a second matchup with the Gators in Omaha. Lamkin was sharp in a 42-pitch, three-inning outing on Saturday. He was even better Wednesday, holding the Gators scoreless through five innings and striking out nine.

“I think the big part of it is just having confidence in myself and knowing I can go out there and I can compete and play at this level,” Lamkin said. “And I think just getting ahead of hitters and just having true confidence in all my pitches really helped me out.”

There was a scary moment in the top of the ninth when Florida right fielder Ashton Wilson struck his head on a padded post on the fence separating the bullpen and field as he tried to catch Ali Camarillo’s drive that went for a triple. Wilson appeared woozy, was tended to by an athletic trainer and coach Kevin O’Sullivan and came out of the game.

Few expected Florida to make it to the final four of the MCWS. The Gators struggled in the regular season and had to win their last series, at Georgia, to achieve the winning record necessary to be eligible for an NCAA tournament at-large bid. They won regionals and super regionals on the road to get here.

“Any time you lose a game to end the year, especially in Omaha, it’s going to be heartbreaking,” Gators outfielder Tyler Shelnut said. “I’m just super proud of my teammates and the rest of this group who pushed through a lot to get here — I mean, a lot. This whole year was pretty hard on all of us. So being here was a huge accomplishment.”

Florida freshman Liam Peterson struggled for a third straight start. He walked four of the first five batters to force in the Aggies’ first run and was lifted.

With his team down 3-0 in the sixth, O’Sullivan called for reliever Brandon Neely with a man on base and one out. Neely had entered having allowed just three runs in a team-high 21 innings in the NCAA tournament, but Sorrell turned on a 3-2 pitch for a two-run homer to right and a 5-0 lead.

“I remember coming to these games when I was 10 years old and wanting to be part of this,” said Sorrell, who grew up three hours from College Station in Highland Village, Texas. “The job’s not finished yet.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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