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 Schottโ€™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.”

Daly’s walk-off homer lifts Kentucky past NC State, 5-4

Editor’s note: The start of Saturday night’s game between Texas A&M and Florida has been delayed because of weather. – Jerry

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Another game at the Men’s College World Series. Another dramatic sequence of events in the final innings for the history books. The second-seeded Kentucky Wildcats emerged victorious Saturday afternoon, defeating the No. 10 North Carolina State Wolfpack, 5-4, scoring the winner in the bottom of the 10th on a walk-off solo homer by former University of Texas infielder Mitchell Daly.

It was the third time in two days that a game in the MCWS was decided by a walk-off winner. On opening day Friday, in another bracket, North Carolina’s Vance Honeycutt beat the Virginia Cavaliers 3-2 on a RBI single in the bottom of the ninth. In Friday’s second game, Dylan Dreiling drilled a two-out, RBI single, capping a four-run bottom of the ninth inning and lifting the top-seeded Tennessee Volunteers to a 12-11 victory over the Florida State Seminoles.

North Carolina State, which eliminated No. 7 seed Georgia in the Super Regional, battled Kentucky until the end in the opener of a two-game set Saturday. The Wolfpack tied the game in the top of the seventh inning on a two-run homer by Alec Makarewicz. In the top of the ninth, they scored a run on a wild pitch to take a 4-3 lead. Kentucky responded in the bottom of the ninth with a solo home run by Ryan Nicholson to tie.

In Kentucky’s MCWS opener, both in history and this weekend, Daly supplied the hit in the 10th that handed the victory to the Wildcats of the Southeastern Conference. Daly started at second base for Texas in the 2022 CWS. Kentucky will advance to play on Monday against either Texas A&M or Florida, who were set to play Saturday night. The tournament is being played at Charles Schwab Stadium in Omaha, Neb.


Kentucky 46-14
North Carolina State 38-22

Coming up

Saturday night: No. 3 Texas A&M vs. Florida.
Sunday: Virginia vs. Florida State, 1 p.m., elimination game. North Carolina vs. Tennessee, 6 p.m., winners bracket.
Monday: North Carolina State vs. Saturday night loser, 1 p.m., elimination game. Kentucky vs. Saturday night winner, 6 p.m., winners bracket.

Raising the roof: Saint Peter’s upsets second-seeded Kentucky

Bedlam broke out in Jersey City, N.J., on Thursday night after the Saint Peter’s Peacocks shocked the Kentucky Wildcats 85-79 in overtime in the NCAA tournament.

Immediately, veteran broadcaster Dick Vitale called it “one of the biggest upsets ever in March Madness.”

In an East Region game played at Indianapolis, the Peacocks entered with a No. 15 seed and little notoriety.

The Wildcats, a two seed, came in with one of the highest-salaried coaches in college basketball and NBA prospects up and down the roster.

The Peacocks prevailed, with Daryl Banks III scoring 27 points and Doug Edert coming off the bench for 20, including five points in the final 1:26 of regulation and five more in the overtime.

Saint Peter’s won for the first time in four trips to the tournament. In addition, the Peacocks became the 10th No. 15 seed to win a first-round game — and the second in two years — since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.

Last year, No. 15 Oral Roberts knocked off Ohio State, 75-72. Oddly, both games were decided in overtime, and both were also played in Indiana. Oral Roberts’ victory came in West Lafayette.

Kentucky had never lost in the first round under coach John Calipari, who reportedly makes $8.5 million a year.

Oscar Tshiebwe produced 30 points and 16 rebounds for the Wildcats, who led by six points with 4:13 remaining in regulation and couldn’t finish off the victory.

The eight-time NCAA champion Wildcats were making a record 59th appearance. They entered with 26 victories, the 39th time they have won at least 25.

St. Peter’s had a more modest reputation. They had won only 19 games this year and had played in only three previous tournaments, in 1991, 1995 and 2011.

15 seeds over 2s

1991: Richmond beats Syracuse 73-69
1993: Santa Clara beats Arizona 64-61
1997: Coppin State beats South Carolina 78-65
2001: Hampton beats Iowa State 58-57
2012: Lehigh beats Duke 75-70
2012: Norfolk State beats Missouri 86-84
2013: Florida Gulf Coast beats Georgetown 78-68
2016: Middle Tennesse State beats Michigan State 90-81
2021: Oral Roberts beats Ohio State 75-72
2022: Saint Peter’s beats Kentucky 85-79 (overtime)

Thursday’s upsets

(12) Richmond defeats (5) Iowa in the Midwest, 67-63.
(12) New Mexico State defeats (5) Connecticut in the West, 70-63.
(11) Michigan defeats Colorado State in the South, 75-63.

Fifth-ranked Kentucky starts to live up to its expectations

Year to year, few teams in the nation can say they live with higher expectations than the Kentucky Wildcats.

This year, it was no different.

The Wildcats opened as the No. 2 team in the nation in the Associated Press preseason poll, but after Kentucky debuted with a 118-84 loss to Duke, some started to wonder.

In coming weeks, the skepticism expanded with two more losses, one to Seton Hall, and another to Alabama.

The latter left Kentucky with a 10-3 overall record just as it moved into into the Southestern Conference phase of its schedule.

As it turns out, Kentucky may very well be a Final Four contender, after all.

After back-to-back defensive gems against Vanderbilt and Florida last week, the Wildcats have moved up to No. 5 in the AP poll.

Against Florida, Kentucky trailed by 11 with 13 minutes remaining in Gainesville and rallied to win, 65-54.

“There’s nothing really to say,” forward PJ Washington told the AP in Florida. “We know that we have to come together. You’re down 11 on the road. We just have to come together and have each other’s back and definitely just lock down on defense. We just had to dig down deep, come out and get it done.

“We didn’t want to lose.”

With an 18-3 overall record and an eight-game winning streak, the Wildcats have started to build an impressive body of work on the season.

Even though they got blown out by the Blue Devils early, they have defeated North Carolina and Kansas in two high-profile, non-conference tests.

How good are they?

Good enough for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament?

Well, Washington is an emerging as a star, averaging 20.5 points and 10.5 rebounds in his last four games.

As a team, the Wildcats have held opponents to 59.2 points on 37.5 percent shooting during the eight-game streak.

Let’s just say, we’ll know more by the first week of March.

On Feb. 16, the Wildcats host the No. 1-ranked Tennessee Vols. On March 2, they play the Vols on the road in Knoxville.

AP Top 25
1. Tennessee 20-1 SE
2. Duke 19-2 ACC
3. Virginia 20-1 ACC
4. Gonzaga 21-2 West Coast
5. Kentucky 18-3 SEC
6. Nevada 21-1 Mountain West
7. Michigan 20-2 Big Ten
8. North Carolina 17-4 ACC
9. Michigan State 18-4 Big Ten
10. Marquette 19-3 Big East
11. Virginia Tech 18-3 ACC
12. Houston 21-1 American
13. Kansas 17-5 Big 12
14. Villanova 18-4 Big East
15. Purdue 16-6 Big Ten
16. Louisville 16-6 ACC
17. Iowa State 17-5 Big 2
18. Texas Tech 17-5 Big 12
19. Wisconsin 16-6 Big Ten
20. Iowa 17-5 Big Ten
21. LSU 17-4 SEC
22. Florida State 16-5 ACC
23. Buffalo 19-3 Mid-American
24. Maryland 17-6 ACC
25. Cincinnati 19-3 American

NCAA set to release 68-team tournament bracket

(Davidson players celebrate after knocking off Rhode Island for the Atlantic 10 championship.)

By Jerry Briggs
For thejbreplay.com

The 68-team NCAA tournament bracket is set for release Sunday at 5 p.m.

You can click on this link and fill it in as the teams are announced on national television, on TBS.

For the fourth time, San Antonio will host the Final Four.

The NCAA semifinals and finals will be held March 31 and April 2 at the Alamodome.

Sunday’s highlights

The up-and-down Kentucky Wildcats won the Southeastern Conference title Sunday, beating Tennessee 77-72.

Guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander exploded for 29 point and 7 rebounds to lead the Wildcats to the win over the SEC co-champions.

Tennessee entered the game projected as a No. 3 seed and Kentucky a No. 5 seed.

In a game that is expected to force the selection committee to drop one of its at-large selections from the field, Davidson beat Rhode Island 58-57 to win the Atlantic 10.

As a result, Davidson moves in unexpectedly to secure the conference’s automatic bid.

Rhode Island, projected as either a No. 7 or No. 8 seed, likely will make the tournament as an at large to effectively bump another team out.

In other games, Cincinnati scored a 56-55 victory over the Houston Cougars to claim the American Athletic championship.

Also, Georgia State won the Sun Belt title in New Orleans with a 74-61 victory over UT Arlington.

Sunday’s scores

(Tournament finals)

American — Cincinnati 56, Houston 55

Sun Belt — Georgia State 74, UT Arlington 61

Southeastern Conference — Kentucky 77, Tennessee 72

Atlantic 10 — Davidson 58, Rhode Island 57

Ivy League — Penn 68, Harvard 65

Saturday’s scores

(Tournament finals)

Big West — Cal State Fullerton 71, UC Irvine 55

Pac-12 — Arizona 75, USC 61

Western Athletic Conference — New Mexico State 72, Grand Canyon 58

Atlantic Coast Conference — Virginia 71, North Carolina 63

Southland Conference — Stephen F. Austin 59, Southeastern Louisiana 55

Conference USA — Marshall 67, Western Kentucky 66

Big Sky — Montana 82, Eastern Washington 65

Big East — Villanova 76, Providence 66, OT

Big 12 — Kansas 81, West Virginia 70

Mountain West — San Diego State 82, New Mexico 75

MAC — Buffalo 76, Toledo 66

America East โ€“ Maryland-Baltimore County 65, Vermont 62

MEAC — North Carolina Central 71,, Hampton 63

SWAC — Texas Southern 84, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 69

(Former UTSA assistants Jeremy Cox (left) and Kyle Keller (second from right) pose for the team picture on Saturday after Stephen F. Austin won the Southland Conference title).

Conference / NCAA automatic qualifier

Ohio Valley โ€” Murray State (26-5)

Missouri Valley โ€“ Loyola-Chicago (28-5)

Big Ten โ€” Michigan (28-7)

Big South โ€” Radford (22-12)

Atlantic Sun โ€” Lipscomb (23-9)

Southern โ€” UNC Greensboro (27-7)

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference โ€” Iona (20-13)

West Coast Conference โ€” Gonzaga (30-4)

Horizon โ€” Wright State (25-9)

Northeast โ€” LIU Brooklyn (18-16)

Colonial Athletic Association โ€” Charleston (26-7)

Summit โ€” South Dakota State (28-6)

Patriot League โ€” Bucknell (25-9)

America East — Maryland-Baltimore County (24-10)

MEAC — North Carolina Central (19-15)

SWAC — Texas Southern (15-19)

Big 12 — Kansas (27-7)

Mountain West — San Diego State (22-10)

Big East — Villanova (30-4)

MAC — Buffalo (26-8)

Conference USA — Marshall (24-10)

Southland — Stephen F. Austin (28-6)

Atlantic Coast — Virginia (31-2)

Big Sky — Montana (26-7)

Western Athletic Conference — New Mexico State (28-5)

Pac-12 — Arizona (27-7)

Big West — Cal State Fullerton (20-11)

Ivy League — Penn (24-8)

Southeastern — Kentucky (24-10)

Atlantic 10 — Davidson (21-11)

Sun Belt — Georgia State (24-10)

American — Cincinnati (30-4)

(Sophomore guard Rawle Alkins throws down a monster dunk, helping Arizona power past Southern Cal in the Pac-12 tournament).