Ridaught: Gators’ season ends against the Aggies in CWS semifinals

Florida Gators baseball at 2024 CWS.
Florida Gators baseball at the 2024 College World Series.
Photo By John Paternoster-UAA

On Wednesday night at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska, the 2024 season came to an end for the University of Florida baseball team with a 6-0 shutout loss to No. 3 national seed Texas A&M in the semifinals of the College World Series.

Florida’s scoring streak of 144 consecutive games, the third-longest in program history, was halted as well. The Gators had not been shut out since a 10-0 loss to Texas A&M in the SEC Tournament on May 26, 2022.

A&M leads Division I with 12 shutouts this season, which matches the 1990 squad for the most in school history.

It will be an All-SEC final as Texas A&M (52-13) will play No. 1 Tennessee (58-12) in a Best-of-3 national championship series beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.

The top-ranked Vols eliminated No. 8 FSU (49-17), 7-2, in the other semifinal.

It marks the eighth time that two teams from the same conference have played for the CWS title, and six of those were SEC affairs.

Unseeded Florida (36-30) was limited to four hits and had trouble once again getting the clutch hit.

The Gators were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position last night and they were 1-for-11 in Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the Aggies, finishing 2-for-23 in their two losses at the CWS.

The Gators went 10-for-18 with runners in scoring position in their wins over No. 10 NC State (38-23) and No. 2 Kentucky (46-16).

It was the second game of the day for the Gators, who eliminated Kentucky, 15-4, behind 14 Gator hits on Wednesday morning.

Florida batted around and plated seven runs on five hits in the first inning for a commanding 7-1 lead.

The Gators scored their second-most runs in an inning at the CWS since scoring 11 vs. Miami in the fourth on June 13, 2015.

Junior Jac Caglianone broke the all-time Florida home run record, hitting his 35th home run of the season against the Wildcats and the 75th home run of his career.

Caglianone, a projected top-five pick in the Major League Baseball Draft, had 104 hits this year and tied the single-season Florida program record alongside Mark Kiger (2002) and Pat Osborn (2002).

He finished 2-for-4 with two singles in his final collegiate game to post a .419 batting average on the year and concluded his collegiate career with an active on-base streak of 52-straight contests, hitting safely in 62 of 66 games while reaching safely in all but one contest.

In his final year in a Gator uniform, Caglianone went 16-for-36 with six home runs, four doubles, 16 runs, 14 RBI, 17 walks and five strikeouts in the 2024 NCAA Tournament.

He totaled 11 hits and four home runs all time at the College World Series, including reaching base safely in 14 of 19 plate appearances in this year’s CWS. That’s good for a whopping .737 on-base percentage.

Sophomore Brody Donay hit his 13th and 14th home runs, including a grand slam, marking his second multi-homer game of the season while his five RBI marked a new Gators career high.

It was an exciting postseason run for the Gators, who were just one game from missing the NCAA tournament until taking the series at Georgia in the regular season finale.

The Gators fought their way through the losers’ bracket to win the Oklahoma State Regional and then swept No. 6 national seed Clemson on the road in the super regionals to advance to their second straight CWS.

It was the ninth CWS appearance in 14 postseasons under head coach Kevin O’Sullivan, who will return most of this year’s team in 2025.

“We had a terrific year,” said Gators head coach Kevin O’Sullivan. “There’s been a lot of ups and downs. Our players persevered through a lot of different tough moments. I’m awfully proud of our team. I know a lot of our guys are extremely disappointed, but speaking from my heart, I’m just awfully proud of them, of what they were able to accomplish and have this experience out here in Omaha.”

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