Monday July 15th, 2024 12:52PM

Sechrist looks to pitch Vols into the history books

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter

OMAHA, Neb. — There’s nothing like having the chance to become immortalized. Few people get the opportunity. Even fewer succeed.

Zander Sechrist will get his opportunity.

The Tennessee southpaw and Flowery Branch native can etch his name alongside other College World Series immortal pitchers like Roger Clemens, Dave Fleming, and Huston Street to name just a few.

Sechrist will take the mound for the Volunteers in a deciding Game 3 of the College World Series against Texas A&M on Monday. It will be his second start in 2024 at Charles Schwab Stadium in six days. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET

Clemens led Texas to the 1983 title. Fleming willed Georgia to the 1990 crown. And Street led Texas to the 2002 championship. All three are in the record books.

Fleming allowed just 11 hits in 21 innings in three appearances in that 1990 season, tied for third-best all-time. Clemens did not walk a single batter in 17 2/3 innings over two appearances, still a record, in 1983. Street set a CWS record with six appearances in that 2002 playoffs.

Sechrist, however, may already be the stuff of legends, at least for Volunteer fans. He has become the go-to guy when they have needed a win in the 2024 playoffs with a perfect 4-0 record, including the SEC Tournament.

He clinched Tennessee’s Super Regional with a Game 3 win over Evansville. Then, he went 6 1/3 innings in the Vols' 7-2 win over Florida State, surrendering just two runs on five hits and fanning three on Wednesday to pitch them into the CWS finals.

He said the approach will have to be a simple one if he is to lead the Volunteers to their first-ever national championship. They last played for a title in 1951.

“The most important thing is you have to treat it as just a normal baseball game, which is obviously easier said than done,” he said. “I get that it’s a big game and has a huge heightened sense to it. I just gotta keep my emotions in check and I’ll be alright once I throw that first pitch.”

There was a chance he wouldn’t get another shot in Omaha in his final season after the Aggies knocked off the No. 1 overall seed 9-5 in Game 1 back on Saturday. But the Vols rallied with a 4-1 victory on Sunday to set the stage for a winner-take-all showdown on Monday.

Sechrist said it didn’t take long for him to get into starter-mode.

“It was a roller coaster of emotions for a couple of days,” he said. “But I started immediately thinking about it right after we won (Game 2).”.

History isn’t lost on Sechrist, who already knows he will be making his final college start regardless of what happens.

“Honestly, this would mean everything to me. I would take (a championship with these guys) over any amount of money since it would be the first one in Tennessee’s history. But you can’t write anything in stone so there’s still a game to play and this group has been amazing. I’m ready to see what’s in store (Monday).

“It’s just crazy to think about how my very last game will be in the championship game so I couldn’t imagine a better ending if we can win it. I’m just going to try my hardest to do my job.”

So far, that has been more than enough, and the Vols would like nothing more than to see him do it again.

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