Men’s College World Series: Zander Sechrist and Tennessee advance to the Finals

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Men’s College World Series: Zander Sechrist and Tennessee advance to the Finals

Wednesday was the kind of outing you dream about as a pitcher for Tennessee’s Zander Sechrist. The senior left-hander got the call for the Volunteers and was tasked with slowing down Florida State with a spot in the Men’s College World Series Final on the line.

For six innings, Sechrist did exactly that.

Facing a Seminoles lineup that hung 11 runs on the Volunteers earlier this week and had mashed all season long — Florida State posted a Slugging Percentage of .559 this season (seventh in the nation) and an OPS of .974 (sixth in the country) — the left-hander kept Florida State scoreless through six innings of work. Sechrist showed complete command of the strike zone, placing an array of fastballs and sharp-breaking balls almost anywhere he wanted to. With some of those breaking balls topping out in the low 80s and even upper 70s, the Florida State hitters were kept off-balance for the first six innings of the game.

By the time the Seminoles finally got to Sechrist for a pair of solo home runs in the seventh inning, the Volunteers’ potent offense had put six runs on the board, spurred on by a three-run first inning. Tennessee added another run in the second, and one more in the third when Christian Moore — who made MCWS history earlier in the week when he became just the second player ever to hit for the cycle — ripped a triple down the right-field line, bringing catcher Cal Stark around to score from first:

And while the Seminoles made it interesting with the two solo home runs in the seventh, Blake Burke added an insurance run for Tennessee with this absolute bomb to right-center:

But the headlines belong to Sechrist, who finished the day giving the Volunteers 6.1 innings of solid work, allowing just a pair of runs while striking out three.

Earlier this week Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello talked about Sechrist getting this opportunity, and how Vitello was “excited” to see the left-hander on the bump.

“We’re really excited,” Vitello said. “This is the guy that has the ability to pitch on the weekend, which he’s accomplished that and helped pitch our team to Omaha, which he did last year as well. I mean, it’s so crucial every game that you play. And he’s logged a ton of innings for us in his career with us and just been a good leader and a good teammate as well.

“I don’t want to call it gravy or anything like that, but now it’s time to enjoy the opportunity for him to compete and then for us to enjoy the opportunity to watch him compete while at the same time just kind of managing the game as best we see fit.”

Sechrist made managing the game easier for Vitello, thanks to his outing on Wednesday.

Now the Volunteers will wait to see who they will face in the Men’s College World Series Finals, between the winner of the Texas A&M-Florida matchup. The Aggies just need one win to advance, while the Gators need two straight wins to make a return appearance in the Finals.

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