New pitchers, Cleveland's Camden Sewell pace Vols to impressive opening sweep

Tennessee Athletics photo / Freshman pitcher Chase Burns set the tone for Tennessee's opening sweep of Georgia Southern by working five scoreless innings during Friday night's 9-0 victory. The No. 16 Volunteers would add 10-3 and 14-0 blowouts Saturday night and Sunday afternoon for their 3-0 start.

The Tennessee Volunteers are picking up right where they left off from last season's run to the College World Series.

They're just doing it with a slew of new faces.

Tennessee polished off Georgia Southern 14-0 Sunday afternoon at Lindsey Nelson Stadium, completing a three-game sweep by the combined count of 33-3. Chase Burns, a freshman from Gallatin, started Friday night's 9-0 triumph and worked five innings, while Drew Beam, a freshman from Murfreesboro, pitched the first three innings of Sunday's slaughter.

"It's pretty evident we've got some arms to be envious of," Tennessee coach Tony Vitello told reporters after the sweep was complete. "These are guys with good stuff, and it's just a matter of throwing strikes."

A whopping 13,566 fans attended the series, setting a Lindsey Nelson Stadium record for a three-game homestand. Friday's crowd of 4,335 set a Tennessee standard for a home opener.

Chase Dollander, a sophomore from Evans, Georgia, started Saturday's game and surrendered the only runs the No. 16 Vols yielded all weekend. Yet Dollander showed plenty of promise by racking up 11 strikeouts in five innings, and he was pitching against his former team, having made 11 starts for last season's Eagles.

"Transferring here was a big deal," Dollander said Saturday. "They didn't really like me for it."

While Georgia Southern may not have the talent of Virginia and Texas, the two teams that eliminated the Vols from last season's CWS, the Eagles did host the Vols to open last season and were quite competitive. Tennessee got the sweep in Statesboro, but two 5-3 wins by the Vols were followed by a 7-3 victory in 12 innings.

Tennessee has begun this season with veteran pitchers Blade Tidwell and Seth Halvorsen sidelined with injuries, but senior Camden Sewell is healthy and contributing out of the gate. The former Cleveland High School standout pitched a pair of scoreless innings Friday and again on Sunday, when he picked up the win.

"I think it's appealing to use Camden in any role," Vitello said, "and he's shown that - whether it's to close or get us out of a jam or long relief or to start, which he'll do at some point this year."

Setting the tone for Tennessee's offense has been left fielder and leadoff hitter Seth Stephenson, who played the past two seasons at Temple College in Texas. Stephenson went 2-for-2 Sunday with two runs scored.

"He's honestly my favorite player on the team," junior right fielder Jordan Beck said Sunday. "I just like watching the kid run. We've got a dangerous team from top to bottom, and I think you can flip the lineup any way you want to.

"With the staff we have and the relievers we have, this was exactly what I expected."

The Vols will host a pair of midweek games, welcoming Tennessee Tech on Tuesday and UNC Asheville on Wednesday.

"There's confidence in the players who were here, and I think there is a clear vision of what it takes to win," Vitello said. "I also think that in January that there was a very distinct line that this is 2022 and that this is this group."

Contact David Paschall at or 423-757-6524. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSPaschall.