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Texas A&M's Prager holds Kentucky hitless into 7th in win

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Texas A&M scored all of its runs in the sixth inning, Ryan Prager held Kentucky hitless into the seventh and the Aggies are off to their best start in a College World Series after their 5-1 win Monday night.

The Aggies (51-13) are 2-0 in the CWS for the first time in eight all-time appearances and have taken control of Bracket 2. They’ll await the winner of a Tuesday elimination game between Florida and Kentucky (46-15) in the bracket final Wednesday. They would have to lose twice to be kept out of the best-of-three finals.

Prager (9-1), the season-long No. 1 pitcher for A&M, wiggled out of trouble twice before Ryan Nicholson lined the ball over second base for the Wildcats’ first hit with two outs in the seventh. Nolan McCarthy followed with a double, putting runners on the corners, and then reliever Josh Stewart came on to strike out Patrick Herrera.

Prager, rocked for six runs in 1 2/3 innings in his super-regional start against Oregon, threw only 10 pitches in a 1-2-3 first inning against the Wildcats, and he retired 13 in a row from the second to sixth inning. The sophomore left-hander walked one, hit a batter and struck out four.

Not everything went smoothly. A&M catcher Jackson Appel made a huge play with two outs in the second when James McCoy bunted to the left side with Nick Lopez heading home from third. Appel ran down the ball and fired to first to get McCoy on a close play upheld on review.

The Wildcats had two runners on with one out in the sixth after a walk and error. Prager got out of the inning when Kaeden Kent fielded Devin Burkes’ sharp grounder down the third-base line, tagged the bag and threw to first for an inning-ending double play.

Texas A&M scored five times in the sixth to take control. Jace LaViolette walked leading off against Mason Moore (9-4), Appel doubled into the right-field corner and both came home on Hayden Schott’s single into left field. Cameron O’Brien came on in relief and gave up an RBI double to Ali Camarillo and a two-run single to Kent.

Kentucky ended the Aggies’ bid for a nation-leading 12th shutout when Nicholson homered with one out in the ninth.

The only down side for the Aggies was an injury to LaViolette, who hobbled on his right leg crossing home plate in the sixth. LaViolette leads the Aggies with 28 homers and 77 RBIs, and he was the hero of their CWS-opening win over Florida when his catch at the fence robbed the Gators of a go-ahead homer in the ninth inning.

Texas A&M already lost projected top-five draft pick Braden Montgomery to a broken ankle and starting pitcher Shane Sdao to an arm injury in super regionals.


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