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Tennessee Baseball’s Zander Sechrist Tosses One Final Gem On Biggest Stage

Photo via Tennessee Athletics

OMAHA, Neb. — Tennessee’s 6-5 National Championship sealing win over Texas A&M was the first Monday game that Zander Sechrist pitched during his college career.

“Mondays are considered midweeks,” Sechrist made clear postgame. “Blessed to finish it on a midweek.”

Sechrist was forged by the fire of midweek baseball. But Vol nation will forever remember him as the clutch lefty that was crucial in Tennessee winning its first ever National Championship.

Before the game, Sechrist played it cool with the media and echoed his go-to line about it being another baseball game. But after pitching another gem in the biggest game of his life he admitted that he battled nerves as he does before every game he pitches.

“I was definitely nervous. I tend to get nervous before a start,” Sechrist said. “I just tried to keep it simple as much as possible.”

The key to taming those nerves and pitching well for Sechrist? Getting through the first inning unscathed. When he struggled this season, the first inning is where he ran into trouble. Putting a zero on the scoreboard to open the game eases the left-handed pitcher up and gave him the confidence he needed.

“When you get nervous you get nervous,” Sechrist said. “And then when you have like a shutdown first inning all the nerves go away because you figured it out. That’s the hardest thing to do because you get yourself so hyped up and nervous to go out there. … If you have a clean inning, not necessarily 1-2-3 every time but if you put a zero up for the first inning it kind of gets it going a little bit.”

That’s exactly what Sechrist did in the final start of his college career, retiring the dangerous top of Texas A&M’s lineup in order in the first inning. He was off from there.

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Sechrist allowed just one earned run on six hits and one walk while striking out seven batters in 5.1 innings pitched. The left-handed pitcher missed barrels for most of the game and even the hit that ended up knocking him from the game was a soft seeing-eye single that snuck through the left side of the infield.

Nate Snead followed Sechrist as he has for most of the season and got Tennessee out of the jam, preserving another fantastic Sechrist line that matched his dominant outing.

After spending three seasons pitching low pressure games on Tuesday night, Sechrist ended his career by pitching in the largest of moments.

In the final six starts of Sechrist’s career, Tennessee won the SEC Regular Season Championship, advanced to the SEC Tournament Championship, won a regional, won a super regional, advanced to the College World Series finals and won the National Championship.

They won those six games largely because of Sechrist’s efforts as he allowed just five earned runs in 34.2 innings pitched (1.30 ERA) while posting a 1.01 WHIP.

People will still remember Sechrist as a quirky lefty who pitched on a lot of Tuesday nights at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. They’ll just remember him more as a Tennessee baseball legend.

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