Vanderbilt's 1-2 pitching punch delivered a knockout in the NCAA baseball tournament's Nashville Super Regional, and the Commodores are headed back to the College World Series as the reigning national champions.
Jack Leiter posted 10 strikeouts in seven innings on Saturday as national No. 4 seed Vanderbilt secured its spot this week in Omaha, Nebraska, with a 4-1 win over No. 13 seed East Carolina University, completing a sweep of the best-of-three super regional at Hawkins Field.
Leiter (10-3) allowed two hits, one of them a solo home run to Josh Moylan in the seventh. It was the only run the Commodores (45-15) allowed during the series. Vanderbilt beat ECU 2-0 on Friday, when Rocker allowed three hits and struck out 11 in 7 2/3 innings.
"This is why you come to Vanderbilt, for moments like this," said Leiter, the son of retired longtime Major League Baseball pitcher Al Leiter. "The season would have felt incomplete if we hadn't made it this far."
Vanderbilt will make its fifth trip to Omaha, all coming since 2011, and will try to add its third overall national championship. The Commodores won the title in 2014, were runners-up in 2015 and returned to the CWS in 2019 to win it all again. Last year's NCAA baseball postseason — as well as much of the regular season — was wiped out amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
East Carolina starter Carson Whisenhunt (6-2) left the game while it was scoreless in the fifth inning, but he walked Javier Vaz and Jayson Gonzalez, who scored on Carter Young's single off reliever Matt Bridges.
Enrique Bradfield Jr. added a one-run double for the hosts in the ninth, and Dominic Keegan's bases-loaded walk made it 4-1.
The Pirates (44-17) dropped to 1-12 all-time in super regional games.