Ten former Tom Sox players are representing the club in the 2023 Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha. The list includes four from the 2-seed Florida Gators, three from the 1-seed Wake Forest Demon Deacons, two from TCU, and one from Tennessee.
Headlining the list is 2021 outfielder and catcher Wyatt Langford, Florida’s leading hitter the last two seasons and a consensus top-5 MLB Draft prospect. Langford had only four at bats the spring before coming to C’ville, but broke out after leading the ‘Sox with a .336 average and 13 extra-base hits in 2021. He hit .355 last season for the Gators with a team-leading 26 home runs, and has backed that up with a .365 season and 19 long balls this season. He was named a first team All-American by D1Baseball last season and is a 2-time All-SEC selection. ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel named him the #3 prospect in the MCWS. Langford hit the game-tying home run – the longest in Charles Schwab Field history at 454 feet – against Virginia in the opening day of the championship.
Also from the Florida Gators is starting outfielder Tyler Shelnut, who played in five games for Charlottesville last season before a hand injury caused him to miss the remainder of the summer. A JUCO transfer from Santa Fe College, Shelnut has found his place beside Langford in the Florida outfield with a .278 average in 48 games and an .863 OPS.
Two more Gators round out the list in reserve outfielder Matthew Prevesk and reliever Fisher Jameson. Prevesk has played in 21 games, starting seven, with a .268 average and nine RBI. Jameson has appeared in ten games with a 13.89 ERA and 14 punchouts in just over ten innings.
Three Demon Deacons join the fray, starting with roommates Pierce Bennett and Adam Cecere. Bennett played in 27 games for the ‘Sox, finishing second on the team with a .316 average and scoring a team-leading 26 runs. He sported 18 walks while striking out a team-record-low four times in 95 at-bats. This season for the Deacs, Bennett is third on the team with a .356 average, has scored 59 runs, and has a team-leading 19 doubles to go along with 65 RBI.
Manning the outfield along with Bennett is Adam Cecere, who came to Charlottesville after a successful recruiting pitch from Bennett. One of seven players in team history with a 2-homer game, Cecere hit .324 in 22 games for Charlottesville with a .990 OPS and 19 RBI. He has played 41 games for Wake on the season with a .290 average, 40 runs scored, 37 RBI, and 21 extra-base hits.
The third Demon Deacon to represent Charlottesville in Omaha is Kyle Joye, who played eight games for the ‘Sox before finishing his summer in New Market. In 39 at-bats for the Deacs on the year, Joye has a .282 average, ten RBI, and 13 runs scored.
Two TCU Horned Frogs, both from 2021, are making their mark in Omaha as well. We fittingly lead off with Elijah Nuñez, who leads off for the Horned Frogs in their starting lineup. Nuñez played in 12 games for the ‘21 ‘Sox, hitting .250 with five RBI – including a memorable walk-off in early July against Harrisonburg. He’s hitting .293 for the Frogs on the year, scoring 58 runs, walking 36 times, and stealing 19 bases while manning center field.
Garrett Wright has also made a significant impact for TCU on the season out of the bullpen. He only tossed 1.1 innings for Charlottesville on the season before an injury ended his summer, but has bounced back with 28 innings on 20 appearances on the season, the second-most on the team. He has a 3.54 ERA out of the pen for the Frogs and has struck out 35 batters while allowing opponents to hit only .167 against him. Wright earned the win in yesterday’s elimination game against Virginia after striking out four in 2.2 innings.
The final past Charlottesville representative in Omaha is Tennessee catcher Cal Stark, who came to Charlottesville in 2021 out of Navarro College as one of three active catchers on the roster. Stark hit .214 for Charlottesville, scoring ten runs while making 79 outs behind the plate without committing a single error or passed ball. He is hitting .178 as a consistent starter for the ‘Vols this spring with 18 runs, 17 RBI, and only three errors and four passed balls in 351 total chances.
In addition to the ten former ‘Sox on Omaha rosters, a couple of future 2023 Sox are looking for a national championship. One of those is Aidan Teel, brother of top draft prospect Kyle Teel, who redshirted the season for Virginia after getting Tommy John surgery. Teel became known as the face of the “splash zone” after runs were scored.
The other is Florida’s Chris Arroyo, who is still fighting for a chance at a trophy after defeating Virginia and Oral Roberts. Arroyo has made seven appearances in 5.1 innings for the Gators, working to a 5.06 ERA.
Additionally, a couple of ‘Sox signees who never made it to Charlottesville are participating in the MCWS. The list includes TCU’s Brayden Taylor and Luke Boyers, Florida’s Carsten Finnvold, LSU’s Alex Milazzo, Will Hellmers, and Blake Money, and Virginia’s Connelly Early (signed as part of Army).