Chattanooga Times Free Press

Sewell’s arm key in Vols special season

- BY PATRICK MACCOON STAFF WRITER Contact Patrick MacCoon at pmaccoon@timesfreep­ Follow him on Twitter @ PMacCoon.

From Drew Gilbert’s walkoff grand slam to Tony Vitello climbing into the crowd to celebrate with fans inside Lindsey Nelson Stadium, the past collegiate baseball season will be one to remember in Tennessee Volunteer history.

A buzz around the diamond in Knoxville has been felt the past three seasons as Vitello’s program has taken off. No other team in the country the past two seasons has more wins than the Vols, whose 65-20 record is one win ahead of Texas and three above Mississipp­i State and Vanderblil­t.

“Coach V took over this job when Tennessee baseball wasn’t a hot commodity. He has turned this program around and is still building it,” said Vols junior pitcher Camden Sewell, a former Cleveland High star. “Last year even though the season got cut short due to COVID, we felt like we were an Omaha-caliber team. We wanted to keep building off of that. We believed in ourselves and were fortunate to have that chance that every ball player dreams of when they are little of making it to Omaha.”

Tennessee led the nation with 50 wins entering the program’s fifth all-time College World Series appearance, which was helped made possible by a light- out postseason pitching by Sewell.

Sewell attacked hitters with a running two-seam fastball, a sweeping curve and a sharp slider which was featured on Twitter by @PitchingNi­nja and received over 70,000 views. Sewell’s breaking ball seemingly defied the laws of physics with how much the ball broke on a swinging strike thrown in his sensationa­l SEC tournament start against Florida. He tossed six shutout innings in a 4-0 semifinals victory on May 29.

Blanking the Gators, who were his favorite team growing up, was just one of countless memories Sewell will take from the 2021 campaign in which the Vols were ranked as high as No. 2 in the country.

“Being a part of this team and all the different range of emotions we felt this year was amazing,” said the 6-foot-4, 190-pound Sewell, who allowed just one earned run over 15 2/3 postseason innings and three over his final 28 innings. “The game-winning home runs and exciting finishes are what stick out to me the most. This team was exciting and always had fans on the edge of their seats. We never gave up and that helped carry us a long way this season.”

Seeing the Big Orange faithful in Omaha fill the crowd at TD Ameritrade Park and spill out of the hotel lobby to cheer them on was special for the standout pitcher who is eligible for this year’s MLB Draft which goes from July 11-13.

“Omaha was special,” he said. “Our fans were so supportive and we couldn’t be more appreciati­ve of them. They filled the crowd and made it feel like a home game. They were behind us all year. We fell short, but it was an unforgetta­ble journey we will remember for the rest of our lives.”

Sewell projects well as a potential MLB Draft pick as he has done nothing but produce during his three seasons with the Vols.

In 44 career appearance­s he is 8-2 overall with three saves and a 2.54 ERA over 99 1/3 innings in which he has 94 strikeouts and held opposing hitters to a .183 batting average. While his future is up in the air, Sewell knows the program is in good hands no matter what.

“All the coaches here are great,” he added. “Being a player here is fun because you see the passion of the coaches. They want to win as much as we do. I am looking forward to seeing what happens in the future. I think the success the program has shown of late can be carried on over a long period of time.”

 ?? AP PHOTO/BUTCH DILL ?? Tennessee pitcher Camden Sewell throws against Florida in the first inning of a Southeaste­rn Conference tournament game on May 29 in Hoover, Ala.
AP PHOTO/BUTCH DILL Tennessee pitcher Camden Sewell throws against Florida in the first inning of a Southeaste­rn Conference tournament game on May 29 in Hoover, Ala.

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