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Jul. 4—TRAVERSE CITY — Will Mabrey's second stint as a Traverse City Pit Spitter came with a much-welcomed delay.
Mabrey re-joined the team this week after the University of Tennessee's prolonged stay in the college baseball postseason.
The Volunteers' season just ended June 22 with an 8-4 loss to No. 2 Texas.
"The beginning of the year we knew we had something special," Mabrey said. "We actually made our group text last year called 'Unfinished business' for this year, because we had unfinished business to do. So we knew we were going to go on a good run with a great team and this is what we did."
The Volunteers won five postseasons games, including a two-game sweep of No. 14 Louisiana State in Super Regionals to punch their ticket to Omaha, Nebraska.
The Vols (50-18) had 22,130 and 19,150 spectators for their CWS contests, a 6-0 setback to No. 8 Virginia and an elimination game against Texas.
"It was a lot of fun," Mabrey said. "I mean, we walked into our hotel and had fans. They yelled our names and were video recording us and stuff. They treated us pretty much like kings there, but we didn't really get our job done."
Tennessee posted 15 wins over teams ranked in the top-20 when they met.
Mabrey pitched in 12 relief appearances following missing a month because of rotator cuff inflammation and shoulder bursitis. He put up a 1.13 earned-run average in eight innings, striking out nine with only two walks. The 6-foot, 185-pound sophomore from Cookeville, Tenn., induced a double play in the Volunteers' Southeastern Conference tournament loss to then-No. 1 Arkansas in his final appearance of the season.
Mabry threw four innings as a freshman in 2020, with a 2.25 ERA and three strikeouts.
"I think he's going to be really nice left-handed arm for us out of the bullpen, somebody that we can count on to come in and throw strikes," Pit Spitters manager Josh Rebandt said. "And he's a high strikeout guy as well. So he's got that extra part about him that if we need a big strikeout and it might be a left-left matchup, or something like that I think he's going to help us out in those areas. But I think also extended relief, too. He's not just good against only lefties, he's good against lefties and righties."
The first player from his high school to sign with an SEC school, Mabrey threw in nine games last season for the Spitters. He fanned eight in 11 innings with a 3.27 ERA.
"Last year is way different than this year," Mabrey said. "I'm in the stands right now for a few games until (July) sixth. There's fans, and they're so involved. Last year was really weird, so I already like the atmosphere here now more than I did last year."
Even this year in college took some getting used to, as fans were slowly re-introduced to stadiums this spring.
"It started out at 25 percent capacity and then worked our way to full capacity for regional games and the Vanderbilt game, but it was a lot of fun looking in the bullpen and seeing this checkerboard of colors in our stands is really, really awesome for sure," Mabrey said.
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