Cleveland’s Camden Sewell could make program history for the Vols

Tennessee Athletics photo / Tennessee fifth-year senior relief pitcher and former Cleveland High School standout Camden Sewell, shown during last weekend's super regional at Southern Miss, has a 19-3 career record and a 2.72 career ERA.
Tennessee Athletics photo / Tennessee fifth-year senior relief pitcher and former Cleveland High School standout Camden Sewell, shown during last weekend's super regional at Southern Miss, has a 19-3 career record and a 2.72 career ERA.

If the Tennessee Volunteers are looking to draw from their College World Series experiences, there is only one player in which to turn.

Camden Sewell.

The fifth-year senior relief pitcher and former Cleveland High School standout is Tennessee's only current player who competed two years ago at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska, when the Vols were eliminated by Virginia and Texas. Sewell entered both of those games and could become the first player in program history to make an appearance in two College World Series.

"I didn't even know that," Sewell said Thursday night in a news conference. "That's pretty cool."

The Vols (43-20) will open CWS play Saturday night (7 Eastern on ESPN) against LSU (48-15), which will be the fourth and final opening matchup of the eight-team extravaganza that begins Friday afternoon.

Jared Dickey, Hunter Ensley, Christian Scott, Kirby Connell and Zander Sechrist are among Tennessee's players who were also on the 2021 roster, but none of them played in Omaha. Sewell's CWS appearances from two years ago are among the 83 of his career, with the 6-foot-4, 185-pounder having compiled a sparkling 19-3 record with a 2.72 earned run average.

In 172 career innings, Sewell has racked up 166 strikeouts.

"To be honest, and especially with this year, everything I've kind of picked up on I've kind of relayed to the younger guys like AJ Russell and the other guys who are going to be pretty special," Sewell said. "You've got to enjoy this moment and everything that's going on, but there is still the task. You can't get too caught up in the outside activities, and I think that's the approach that needs to be taken this time."

Said Vols coach Tony Vitello: "Cam has become a mentor. I'm close with the kid, and, no offense, but I never thought he would be a mentor. I thought he would be a really good pitcher for us out of the gate, and he's put together a great career."

The Vols swept LSU at Lindsey Nelson Stadium two years ago to win the super regional and advance to the College World Series for the first time since 2005. Once in Omaha, however, they ran into Virginia starting pitcher Andrew Abbott, who threw six scoreless innings in guiding the Cavaliers to a 6-0 blanking.

Abbott opened this season with the Class AA Chattanooga Lookouts and went 1-0 with a 1.15 ERA in three starts, and he has yet to allow a run in his first two starts with the Cincinnati Reds.

After falling to Virginia, the Vols were bounced 8-4 by the Longhorns.

"When we advanced here last time, we had a lot of down time," Vitello said. "There was no opening ceremony or celebration because it was so close to 2020 — I don't even want to say the word — and there was just too much down time. There was too much media hype, and I think it became a distraction. It took most of the attention of our guys instead of just focusing on the game.

"This time around, I think the guys are just trying to get some rest. We flew out of Hattiesburg on Tuesday morning and flew out here about 18 or 20 hours later, so I think they're just trying to get back to neutral and enjoy this thing. It's probably moving a lot faster for them, and I think the nature of the schedule will benefit us."

The Vols also went two-and-out at the 2005 College World Series, so the last win by Tennessee at this ultimate stage occurred in 2001. Of course, last season's team was the NCAA tournament's top overall seed but was snagged by Notre Dame in a super regional.

Tennessee is expected to start Andrew Lindsey (3-3, 2.79) against LSU, with the Tigers scheduled to go with Paul Skenes (12-2, 1.77).

"Last year wasn't how everybody wanted it to end," Sewell said, "but I think everything that happened last year kind of put the stepping stones together or whatever you want to call it for this year. We've dealt with a lot of adversity this year, but we're coming together at the right time, and that's what we're excited for."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com.

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