A&M defeats Kentucky, advances undefeated into MCWS semifinals

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Jackson Appel and Hayden Schott ignited a five-run sixth inning and lefthander Ryan Prager took a no hitter into the seventh Monday night, as the Texas A&M Aggies rolled to a 5-1 victory over the Kentucky Wildcats to remain undefeated at the Men’s College World Series.

Looking for their first national title in their eighth trip to Omaha, Neb., the third-seeded Aggies have fashioned a 2-0 start in the MCWS for the first time. With wins over Florida and second-seeded Kentucky, A&M has moved into the semifinals needing only one victory to advance to the championship round.

Now with one loss in two games, Kentucky is scheduled to play Florida, also 1-1, in the losers bracket Tuesday. The winner is scheduled to get another shot at A&M on Wednesday night in the semifinals. A&M will need to be beaten twice for its opponent to reach the finals.

A&M star outfielder Jace LaViolette came out of the game against Kentucky with an apparent injury after his team broke it open in the sixth with five runs, four hits and three walks off Kentucky pitching, including four runs charged to starter Mason Moore.

LaViolette, whose catch at the wall robbed Florida of a home run in a 3-2 A&M victory on Saturday night, led off with a walk and moved to third base when Appel doubled down the right field line. It was A&M’s best scoring opportunity of the night, and the Aggies didn’t waste it.

Both LaViolette and Appel scored on Hayden Schott’s two-run single to left to make it 2-0. The first glimpse of LaViolette’s discomfort showed when he limped in from third to home plate.

Subsequently, the Aggies kept it going when Ted Burton walked. One out later, with runners at first and second, Ali Camarillo stroked an RBI double over the head of Kentucky right fielder James McCoy. A&M caught a break when McCoy appeared out of position to make the catch.

The play left A&M with a 3-0 lead and runners at second and third base. Kaeden Kent slapped a two-RBI single to left to make it 5-0.

Ryan Nicholson tied the Kentucky single-season, school record with his 23rd home run, a solo shot, off A&M reliever Josh Stewart in the bottom of the ninth.


Kentucky 46-15
Texas A&M 51-13

Coming up

Tuesday: North Carolina v Florida State, 1 p.m., elimination game; Kentucky v Florida, 6 p.m., elimination game.

Wednesday’s semifinals: Tennessee v North Carolina/Florida State, 1 p.m.; Texas A&M v Kentucky/Florida, 6 p.m.


Texas A&M’s Ryan Prager bounced back from a poor outing in the Super Regional round to notch the victory over Kentucky, improving his record to 9-1. Prager worked 6 and 2/3 shut out innings, giving up only two hits. He walked one and struck out four.

In the Super Regional opener against Oregon, the redshirt sophomore from Dallas Hillcrest lasted only one and two thirds innings. He yielded six runs on seven hits, including a homer, after which the Aggies rallied for a 10-6 victory.

Offensively, Hayden Schott led the Aggies in the MCWS matchup against Kentucky.

The graduate student from Newport Beach, Calif., went three for five and had two RBI. Schott has hit safely in six of seven NCAA tournament games. He is four for eight in the CWS and has produced 13 hits in 30 at bats in the tournament.

Kaeden Kent, a sophomore from Lake Travis and the son of former major league star Jeff Kent, also continued to shine for the Aggies. Kent is eight for 15 in the tournament and seven for 13, including a grand slam in Game 1 against the Ducks, since he replaced injured Braden Montgomery in the lineup.

When LaViolette exited the Kentucky game before the bottom of the sixth, A&M coach Jim Scholossnagle inserted Jack Bell into the game at second base and moved Kent over to play third. Gavin Grahovac moved from third base to left field and freshman Caden Sorrell from left to right to take LaViolette’s position in the field.

Both Montgomery (ankle) and pitcher Shane Sdao were injured in the Oregon series and have been declared out for the MCWS. All of which makes it interesting to see whether LaViolette can return. LaViolette, whose injury was announced as a hamstring, leads A&M with 28 homers. Montgomery, considered a potential first-round draft pick, has hit 27 homers. Sdao is regarded as a key starter.


“Give their starter credit. (Ryan) Prager. What an outing. What a time to throw a game like that. He kept us off balance. It was the fastball. The breaking ball. The changeup. He just threw an absolute great game,” Kentucky coach Nick Mingione said.

“I thought it was a great ballgame,” A&M coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “Tough conditions to hit. I thought both pitchers, Ryan was obviously outstanding. I thought Mason was outstanding for them. We just happened to get Appel’s big hit to get us into scoring position.

“And then both Hayden and Kaeden did an awesome job of staying on the baseball and using the whole field to hit.”

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