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Tennessee Baseball’s Zander Sechrist Has The Right Demeanor For The Biggest Moment

Zander Sechrist pitches against Florida State in the College World Series // Photo via UT Athletics

OMAHA, Neb. — Tennessee’s Zander Sechrist has pitched in big moment after big moment the last six weeks of the season. But no athletic moment in Sechrist’s life will be bigger than when he throws the first pitch of game three of the College World Series finals at 7:10 p.m. ET on Monday night.

But talking to assembled media following the Vols’ 4-1 series evening win over Texas A&M on Sunday Sechrist wanted everyone to understand something.

“At the end of the day, it’s still baseball,” Sechrist said. “It’s still baseball. This is just baseball out here with a title on it. I’m not trying to downplay nor up play it. I’m just trying to stay even keel about it.”

It’s easy to read that quote and think that the redshirt senior is speaking out his backside. And Sechrist does understand the stakes of Monday’s title clash. He’s not oblivious. But he is honest about his mindset.

Sechrist has said the same things before and after each of his last five effective starts down the stretch of the season. It’s clear his preparation and mindset bodes well for him in these big moments.

“I think his progression has been just getting more comfortable,” Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello said of Sechrist. “You’ve got to kind of navigate through certain situations, whether it’s pitching on the road, pitching in the postseason. You build up reps and if you’re smart, you’ve got some aptitude, you probably get a little bit better at it.”

Sechrist has the demeanor and poise that you want on the mound in a big game. That doesn’t guarantee success. His stuff isn’t overpowering and Texas A&M has a good lineup capable of doing plenty of damage.

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“They can hit. SEC lineup. One through nine can hit,” Sechrist said of the Aggies postgame. “They can play a little small ball when they want. They can hit it out whenever they want.”

While he’s not a dominant ace, Sechrist has been stout in his last five starts. Over that stretch, he’s allowed just four earned runs in 29.1 innings pitched (1.23 ERA). Tennessee is 5-0 in those games winning the SEC Regular-Season Championship in the lone regular season start and advancing to the next round of the postseason in the other four.

Sechrist is pitching better than he has at any point in his career and as well as any Tennessee pitcher at this moment in time.

“His presence, one, and his ability to mix three pitches at a high level and locate them at the same time,” Tennessee centerfielder Hunter Ensley said of Sechrist. “We’ve played in like seven one-one series and he’s been the guy to break through for us every single time. When we go to war behind that guy, you know what you’re going to get. You’re going to get strikes, a good three-four pitch mix and he’s going to locate it.”

First pitch for the National Championship deciding game is at 7:10 p.m. ET on Wednesday night. ESPN is broadcasting the game.

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