Texas A&M advances to its first MCWS final, taking on No. 1 Tennessee

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

Jim Schlossnagle also had a breakthrough. The 53-year-old coach has brought seven teams to the Men’s College World Series since 2010 — five while he was at TCU and two in his first three seasons at Texas A&M — without ever reaching the Finals.

“I’m tired of going out before the championship, so personally it’s cool. It’s fun to be a part of,” he said after Wednesday night’s 6-0 win over Florida. “Having the pleasure of playing on a great Tennessee team, one of the best college teams I’ve ever played on — 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 finalist for the second year in a row and the third time in four.

Justin Lamkin gave Texas A&M its second straight hot start against the Gators and Caden Sorrell broke the game.

Hours after Florida posted its third-highest hitting streak of the season with 14 in a 15-4 victory over Kentucky, the Gators (36-30) managed just four hits and were eliminated for the first time in 145 games.

The last team to dump the Gators? Texas A&M is 10-0 in 2022 SEC play.

“It’s like you go full speed ahead, you win the game this morning, you go back to the hotel, everybody’s in a good mood, we feel really good 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 advance.”

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

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

There was a scary moment in the top of the ninth when Florida right fielder Ashton Wilson hit 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 looked dazed, as athletic trainer and coach Kevin O’Sullivan watched him come out of the game.

Few expected Florida to make the Final Four of the MCWS. The Gators struggled through the regular season and needed to win their last series at Georgia to achieve the winning streak needed to qualify for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. They won regionals and super regionals en route to getting here.

“Anytime you lose a game at the end of the year, especially in Omaha, it’s heartbreaking,” Gators outfielder Tyler Shelnutt said. “I’m really proud of my teammates and everyone else on this team, they put in a lot of effort to get here — I mean, a lot. The whole year has been really hard for all of us. So it’s a big accomplishment to be here. .”

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

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

“I remember coming to these games when I was 10 years old and wanting to be a part of it,” said Sorrell, who grew up three hours from College Station in Highland Village, Texas. “The work isn’t done yet.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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