Something about the mound in Gainsville made Vanderbilt's two ace starters, Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter, susceptible to the home run ball.
Fortunately for Rocker it meant only one deep ball in his win Friday night but Leiter wasn't quite as lucky in his start on Saturday evening against No. 14 Florida. Leiter was touched up for a three-run homer by fellow top 50 prospect Jud Fabian in the bottom of the first before giving up two more long balls, including another from Fabian in the third, in the Gators 11-7 victory over the No. 2 Commodores.
The Vanderbilt offense gave Leiter plenty of support early on, tallying six runs over the first four innings, but it did little to bolster his success on the bump. After a scoreless frame in the second, the Gators tacked on four runs over the next two innings to chase Leiter out of the game. In his shortest start of the season, his final line was five earned runs with four strikeouts and four walks over four innings pitched.
The loss was Leiter's second straight, moving his record to 7-2 on the season after a perfect 7-0 start. Leiter has now given up eight home runs in his last 15 innings pitched after allowing just one homer over his first eight starts (45 innings) of the year.
The Gators also touched up Rocker for a home run in the series but he was ultimately unfazed by the blast.
Rocker, who was coming off a complete game win against No. 6 Mississippi State April 23, was again impressive in SEC competition as he racked up eight strikeouts over five innings to earn his tenth win of the season in Vanderbilt's 11-7 victory at No. 14 Florida on Friday.
It's uncertain why Rocker was pulled after just five innings but his four walks given up against the Gators may have played a factor. His pitch count reached 95 after five innings and he had given up two runs, a home run in the fourth and another run on a ground out in the fifth, in the start.
The No. 2 Commodores spotted Rocker six runs in the top of the first against Florida, however, and it was more than enough to get him his third straight victory in the conference. All of the tools that make him a top ten prospect in the upcoming draft were on display Friday.
Kumar Rocker. Filthy slider with depth low and away.— hashim (@___hash___) May 1, 2021
CJ Rodriguez guns down a would-be base stealer from his knees to end the inning. pic.twitter.com/uGG3MoTkwX
Rocker's record now sits at 10-1 following the victory. The duo's combined record is 17-3 on the year.
Leiter and Rocker, the 2019 College World Series Most Outstanding Player, currently check in at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, in Kiley McDaniel's draft rankings.
Best of the season so far
Jack Leiter, 97mph ⛽️— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 25, 2021
100th K of the Season. 💯 pic.twitter.com/3wsxDamA8P
Kumar Rocker, Filthy Slider...and K Strut.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 24, 2021
Ok, maybe he just fell. pic.twitter.com/Vp1CgwzfgE
Jack Leiter, 94mph Fastball and 82mph Slider, Overlay. pic.twitter.com/A1RvcHDCM0— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 17, 2021
Jack Leiter, Wicked Front Door Cutter. ✂️🚪— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 3, 2021
12th K thru 5 pic.twitter.com/v1AXA7vbJp
Bases loaded and one out? No problem for Jack Leiter.— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) April 3, 2021
We're on Jack Leiter Time.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 27, 2021
It's just delaying the inevitable. pic.twitter.com/E5WCSkd9c1
Remaining Vanderbilt schedule
May 1: at Florida, 6:30 p.m. (SEC Network+)
May 2: at Florida, 3 p.m. (ESPN 2)
May 4: at Louisville, 7 p.m.
May 7: Alabama, 7 p.m. (SEC Network+)
May 8: Alabama, 3 p.m. (SEC Network+)
May 9: Alabama, 2 p.m. (SEC Network+)
May 11: North Alabama, 7:30 p.m.
May 14: at Ole Miss, 7 p.m. (SEC Network)
May 15: at Ole Miss, 5 p.m. (SEC Network+)
May 16: at Ole Miss, 3 p.m. (SEC Network)
May 18: Florida International, 7:30 p.m.
May 20: Kentucky, 7:30 p.m. (SEC Network+)
May 21: Kentucky, 7:30 p.m. (SEC Network+)
May 22: Kentucky, 3 p.m. (SEC Network+)