NCAABBL: Top seed torment? Tennessee bids to beat Texas A&M in MCWS

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OMAHA, Neb. — It has been 25 years since a No. 1 seed has won the Men’s College World Series and Tennessee is aiming to end the drought.

The Volunteers will have to get through a fellow SEC opponent to do so and will begin pursuit of the title when they open the best-of-three finals against No. 3 Texas A&M on Saturday.

Both teams went undefeated through bracket play, which left downtown Omaha relatively quiet with no games on Thursday or Friday as several merchants began shipping out their merchandise early. But the intensity will ratchet back up ahead of Game 1 at 7:30 p.m. ET at Charles Schwab Stadium on Saturday night.

The last No. 1 overall national seed to win the title was Miami in 1999. Tennessee is the first No. 1 national seed in 15 years to reach the CWS finals.

The Volunteers (58-12) rallied late to avoid an upset to No. 8 Florida State in their opening game in Omaha. They then took care of North Carolina fairly easily before eliminating the Seminoles in a rematch on Wednesday night.

“This group — we’ve spent a lot of time together,” Tennessee left-hander Kirby Connell said. “We talk about that’s our main goal is to try to win a national championship. We get to have a three-round fight this weekend. And try to be the first team to win two games.”

Tennessee will be well rested, but so will Texas A&M. The Aggies (52-13) similarly avoided an upset bid in their opening game against Florida, surviving the Gators 3-2. They then beat Kentucky before eliminating Florida with a 6-0 shutout on Wednesday night.

Texas A&M, playing in its eighth MCWS, is shooting for its first national title. The Aggies have yet to trail through their first three games in Omaha and are now 8-0 in the NCAA Tournament.

Their last loss? It came against Tennessee, 7-4, in the SEC Tournament on May 23.

“Most teams don’t know when their season is going to end. We’re pretty sure when ours is going to end, one way or the other,” Texas A&M coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “That’s a gift. That’s a blessing we should be thankful for.”

Tennessee will start left-hander Chris Stamos (3-0, 4.26 ERA) on Saturday against Aggies left-hander Ryan Prager (9-1, 2.88).

Both players started the May 23 game and didn’t pitch long. Stamos allowed one run and one hit in 3 1/3 innings and Prager gave up one run and three hits in 2 1/3 innings.

Prager said he and his teammates are ready for what lies ahead.

“I think we’ve truly been able to take care of business and play baseball, but also enjoy it when we’re off the field,” Prager said. “And to be one of the last two here, it’s super exciting. We’re super grateful for it.

“We’ve put ourselves in this position. And just really excited to basically play a three-game series and try to be the first one to win two games.”

But the Volunteers are just as thrilled for the weekend, though they know it will be challenging.

“I would just say they’re competitors,” Tennessee outfielder Kavares Tears said of the Aggies. “I mean, they’re playing in the national championship. And they’re also playing in the SEC. I don’t think they just got there by luck. I think they’re really good competitors.”

–Field Level Media

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