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Texas A&M Baseball

Prager's chance to reverse Omaha fortunes comes Monday vs. Wildcats

June 16, 2024
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OMAHA, Neb. — Two years ago, a freshman from Dallas ascended the Charles Schwab Field mound twice in a pair of Texas A&M losses.

A more experienced and decorated Ryan Prager will climb that same hill again on Monday night in hopes of reversing those fortunes.

“You work so long all fall, all year, to be able to have the opportunity to go there,” Prager told Texas Aggies United earlier this week. “It’s super cool to get to go back to Nebraska.”

The Aggies take on Kentucky at 6 p.m. CT in the Bracket 2 winners’ bracket ballgame.

In a tournament that has seen high drama at every turn, another showdown of SEC juggernauts could lead to even more tense moments in the heartland.

“The rest was great. Well deserved. Well needed. Hopefully, Prager can be Prager and be out there for a while.”
- A&M head coach Jim Schlossnagle

After all, the Wildcats walked off NC State on Mitchell Daly’s 10th-inning blast on Saturday afternoon.

Later that night — more accurately, in the wee hours of the next morning — A&M wiggled out of jam after jam to hang on to a 3-2 decision over Florida.

“The rest was great. Well deserved. Well needed,” head coach Jim Schlossnagle said Sunday afternoon. “Hopefully, Prager can be Prager and be out there for a while.

“I like Prager against Kentucky in terms of what he does vs. what they do.”

In his first two Nebraska outings, Prager allowed four runs in just 2.2 innings before missing all of 2023 while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Now at 1-0 in Omaha, A&M turns to its ace.

Prager is 8-1 with a 3.10 ERA in 87.0 innings this year. He has struck out 114 batters and walked just 19.

However, an abbreviated five-out start vs. Oregon must be avoided as bullpen weapons Chris Cortez and Evan Aschenbeck were utilized the beat the Gators.

So, as he has been for much of 2024, Prager becomes the key to more Aggie success.

“You have to tip your hat to Oregon,” he said. “They came out swinging the bat. They did a great job. We just kept taking blow after blow after blow.

“The whole moment, the whole two days, encapsulated just who this team is at heart and what has been this glue that has held us together all year.”

The left-hander will also face an offense that differs from any he has faced throughout the SEC gauntlet.

NCBWA Mike Martin Coach of the Year award winner Nick Mingione’s Wildcats are known for their aggressive brand of small ball.

In 2024, Kentucky is 46-14 and went a surprising 22-8 in conference play.

At times, it seemed the Big Blue bunted their way to a No. 2 national seed and the program’s first MCWS appearance.

Yet, the Wildcats made the big Omaha yard look small in launching three home runs vs. NC State.

“We’re still going to have to play great. I’ve been watching video on them all day,” Schlossnagle said. “If they get a little bit of a lead or a tie game, the momentum of their running and the bunt game, and then you start worrying about that and make bad pitches, they can hit the ball out of the ballpark.

“This is probably the most complete team we will play all season.”

A high-octane slugfest would seem to favor the Maroon & White, especially with Prager tabbed to start.

He has surrendered 12 round-trippers in 2024, but three have come in his last eight innings.

Circle that as another trend to reverse.

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Prager's chance to reverse Omaha fortunes comes Monday vs. Wildcats

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