Home run robbery in ninth caps Texas A&M win vs. Florida in College World Series opener

OMAHA, Neb. — If not for the height of Texas A&M right fielder Jace LaViolette, Florida baseball might have rallied all the way back to pull off an inspired late-night win in its College World Series opener against the Aggies.

But LaViolette went over the fence to rob Florida Gators second baseman Cade Kurland of a two-run homer in the top of he ninth inning, and the Florida Gators wound up a run short, falling 3-2 to Texas A&M in the pre-dawn hours on Saturday at Charles Schwab Field.

"I'm glad Jace is 6-foot-5," Texas A&M coach Jim Schlossnagle said

A crowd of 25.774 waited through a four-hour, 15-minute rain delay, to watch another tight CWS game (all four have been decided by one run, with three walkoffs). The robbery of Kurland capped frustrating night at the plate for UF, as the Gators left 10 on base, including 7 in scoring position.

The wind had died down somewhat in the sixth through eighth inning but was blowing in when Kurland laced a fastball from Texas A&M closer Evan Ashcenbeck deep to right field. Michael Robertson had gotten on before Kurland with one out in the ninth inning on an infield single.

"I thought he had it because he never reacts like that when he hits one," Florida baseball coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "He just kind of puts his head down and rounds the bases. He thought he got it, I thought he got it. The right fielder made a heck of a play."

Texas A&M right fielder Jace Laviolette robs the Florida of a home run in the ninth inning at Charles Schwab Field Omaha.
Texas A&M right fielder Jace Laviolette robs the Florida of a home run in the ninth inning at Charles Schwab Field Omaha.

Florida baseball misses on other scoring chances

The Gators trailed 3-0 early but had a chance to get on the board when Kurland was hit by a pitch to lead off the sixth inning and Jac Caglianone doubled into the right field corner. But with runners on second and third and none out, right fielder Ashton Wilson and shortstop Colby Shelton both struck out, and catcher Luke Heyman then lofted a shallow fly ball to right to end the inning.

"When you have those opportunities to score, you know, you've got to cash in," O'Sullivan said. "And one inning we had second and third with nobody out. We needed to at least get one and unfortunately we weren't able to do that."

Florida also loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth inning, but UF third baseman Dale Thomas, who drove in UF's first run the inning before with an RBI double, grounded out to second to end the inning. After Kurland's fly out, Caglianone walked to put runners on first on second, but Aschenbeck stuck out Ashton Wilson to end the game,

Wilson, who came up with clutch hits throughout UF's postseason run in the Stillwater Regional and Clemson Super Regional, had a tough night in his CWS debut, going 0 for 4 with 3 strikeouts. As a team, Florida struck out 16 times.

"When you lose one-run games it really just comes down to the fundamentals," O'Sullivan said. "And we just weren't good enough in certain areas today."

This article originally appeared on The Gainesville Sun: College World Series: Texas A&M robs home run in ninth to beat Florida