On Saturday, Vanderbilt starting pitcher, Jack Leiter threw a no-hitter against South Carolina as the Commodores defeated the Gamecocks 5-0. Leiter dominated South Carolina, striking out 16 Gamecocks hitters and walking just one.
After the historic performance, Leiter said that he was doing his best to stay in the moment. His mantra? "Next pitch next pitch focus on the next pitch. You can't control the whole game's outcome on a single pitch."
Leiter started the day walking the South Carolina leadoff hitter, Braylen Wimmer. That would be the last blemish on Leiter's line as he retired the next 27 hitters." Walking the first guy, obviously not what you want to do," said Leiter, who despite his dominating performance struggled commanding his offspeed pitches early in the game. "Honestly not until the sixth or seventh inning did things feel any different," Leiter commented.
All of Leiter's 16 strikeouts came on the fastball, but his improved command of his offspeed pitches in the sixth inning and later allowed him to go the distance. A 10-pitch seventh inning culminated in Leiter striking out the college baseball homerun leader, Wes Clarke, for the third time on the day. The pitch? A 97mph fastball. After an efficient 11-pitch eighth inning, Leiter returned for the ninth and made history.
In total, Leiter threw 124 pitches, by far a career high in just his eighth collegiate start. It was the first SEC start of Leiter's career. Despite early season success, Leiter had not been allowed to pitch past five innings all year. He said after his performance that there was an unspoken understanding that he was staying in the game and that no Vanderbilt coach approached him about taking him out.
The performance was Leiter's fifth win in as many starts and lowered Leiter's season ERA to 0.31 over 29 IP. He has struck out 49 batters and walked just 11.
The no-hitter was Vanderbilt's first since fellow teammate, Kumar Rocker, no-hit Duke in an elimination game in the 2019 Nashville Super Regional. The Commodores would go on to win the National Championship that season and remain the defending National Champions due to the cancellation of the 2020 College World Series. This season, Rocker and Leiter are a combined 10-0 with 97 strikeouts and 21 walks in 60 innings.
After starting the season 11-0, South Carolina has now lost six straight games. The win clinched the three-game series for Vanderbilt, and the Commordores will go for the sweep on Sunday at 2:00 PM ET on SEC Network+.