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Texas A&M Baseball

A&M opens 2024 Men's College World Series with familiar foe Florida

June 14, 2024
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OMAHA, Neb. — Experience is vital.

For Texas A&M, experience comes in two different forms ahead of the 2024 Men's College World Series.

Jim Schlossnagle & Co. are in Omaha for the second time in three years, and four Aggies — Ryan Targac, Ryan Prager, Chris Cortez and Brad Rudis — are the first to represent A&M on multiple occasions.

"You have somebody other than a coach that can talk to you about their experience, whether it be on the field or off the field," A&M head coach Jim Schlossnagle said on Thursday. "It's awesome to have that come from players.

"It's like hearing from your dad all the time. They hear from me all the time, but it's better when it comes from a player."

"You have somebody other than a coach that can talk to you about their experience, whether it be on the field or off the field. It's awesome to have that come from players.
- A&M head coach Jim Schlossnagle

Additionally, the Aggies will be very familiar with Florida ahead of a Saturday night showdown at Charles Schwab Field Omaha.

A 6 p.m. CT contest will be the fourth time A&M and Florida have met this season. The Gators took two of the first three in mid-March.

Further, Kevin O'Sullivan's club has even more Omaha experience than the Aggies.

Florida fell just one win shy of winning the national title a year ago.

"Death, taxes and Florida in Omaha," Schlossnagle said. "Those are three things you can pretty much count on. Hopefully, we can get our program to that point."

Shockingly, their respective paths back to college baseball's pearly gates looked vastly different this spring.

After Gainesville, A&M rattled off six straight SEC series victories, ascended to No. 1 in the nation and ultimately earned the No. 3 national seed before winning their first five NCAA Tournament games.

Florida finished the regular season one game over .500 and somewhat controversially squeaked into the field of 64. The Gators came through the losers' bracket in Stillwater and upset No. 6 national seed Clemson to reach Omaha for the 14th time in program history.

"This is what you work for all year," All-American Jac Caglianone said. "Coming up one game short last year definitely put a chip on our backs for the guys that returned and stuff like that. Having another shot at it is something we don't take for granted. We're thankful to be here, and we're excited to play here."

Yet, both bring wildly talented rosters into Saturday's clash.

Even without Braden Montgomery, who suffered a season-ending leg injury last week, A&M's lineup will feature two first-team All-Americans in Jace LaViolette and Jackson Appel, as well as freshman All-American Gavin Grahovac.

On the other side, much of the attention will be paid to Caglianone, the Perfect Game Two-Way Player of the Year.

"Just make sure that there's nobody on base. That's the key," Schlossnagle said of Caglianone. "He's a great player, but when we went down there and lost two out of three at the beginning of conference play, it was the other guys that beat us."

The familiarity with each other and the venue should help ease the preparation for both clubs.

Yet, neither starting pitcher — A&M sophomore Justin Lamkin (2-2, 5.73 ERA) and Florida freshman Liam Peterson (3-4, 5.97 ERA) — have toed the rubber in Omaha.

Truly, the experiences of March are irrelevant ahead of an MCWS rematch.

"That series was so long ago," O'Sullivan said. "It has no bearing on Saturday night."

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A&M opens 2024 Men's College World Series with familiar foe Florida

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