Vandy's Leiter dominates -- again

March 7th, 2021

The college baseball campaign is heating up, and Vanderbilt’s Jack Leiter looks like he’s already in midseason form. That’s trouble for opposing lineups.

The No. 6 prospect in MLB Pipeline’s 2021 Draft rankings started his Sunday afternoon with five hitless innings, departing in the sixth with a final line of two runs, one earned -- his first allowed this season -- on one hit with 11 strikeouts against three walks as the second-ranked Commodores finished a three-game weekend sweep with a 4-2 win over visiting Illinois-Chicago.

Leiter alternated strikeouts and walks in the first inning, fanning the side while issuing two free passes. In the second, he locked in. The right-hander struck out the side in the second and whiffed the first two he saw in the third, part of a stretch in which Leiter retired 12 straight and punched out eight from the final out of the first through the second out of the fifth.

After handing out his final walk to UIC’s Ryan Lin-Peistrup with two outs in the top of the fifth, Leiter caught Sean Lee looking to end the frame for his final strikeout. Leiter had entered the day with 15 K’s for the season. With Sunday’s showing, he vaulted himself past the 22 strikeouts he registered in four appearances (three starts) during his freshman campaign last year before the coronavirus pandemic halted the college baseball season.

Leiter opened the sixth by plunking Thomas Smart with a pitch and yielding his first hit to Bryan Rosario, bringing an end to the righty’s day. Reliever Nick Maldonado allowed two infield singles, one on a bunt, to plate both runners Leiter allowed on to open the inning before shutting down the rally.

The 20-year-old son of former big leaguer Al Leiter finished his third start of the year with 94 pitches, 57 for strikes.

Through 15 innings this season, Leiter has now allowed just one earned run on five hits, good for a 0.60 ERA, while striking out 26 and walking seven.

Leiter’s Commodores teammate Kumar Rocker continued his dominant start to the season on Saturday night. The top 2021 Draft prospect went six full innings, charged with a run on two hits while striking out 11 and walking one to improve to 3-0 this season with Vanderbilt's 5-2 win over UIC. Like Leiter, Rocker’s ERA is 0.60 through three outings.