NASHVILLE, Tenn. – For a second consecutive night, top-seed Vanderbilt received a strong start on the mound, this time from freshman Kumar Rocker as the Commodores downed Indiana State 8-5 to remain unblemished at the NCAA Nashville Regional from Hawkins Field.
Vanderbilt (51-10) is one win shy of advancing to its eighth super regional in the last 10 seasons. The Commodores, who have won 11 consecutive games and 24 of their last 25, will face the winner of Ohio State and Indiana State on Sunday at 8 p.m.
Rocker (9-5) retired nine consecutive and escaped jams when needed including stranding a pair on a three-pitch strikeout in the sixth. After putting the first two aboard in the seventh, Rocker struck out consecutive batters before reliever Hugh Fisher used one pitch to induce an inning-ending groundout.
The freshman allowed just one run while scattering seven hits and striking out eight without permitting a walk in 6.2 innings. Rocker has fanned six-plus batters in eight of his last 11 starts and tossed five-plus innings in 11 of his last 12 games.
The Commodores opened the scoring in the second, scoring three times with two away highlighted by a two-RBI double by Julian Infante. After two quick outs, Stephen Scott send a single into center and advanced to second on a Harrison Ray walk before Ty Duvall dumped an RBI-single into right center.
Ethan Paul narrowly missed a three-run home run in the ninth, instead adding a pair of insurance runs on a wall-ball double. The senior is now one off the program’s career record for doubles (63). The frame was jump-started by Infante’s first-pitch double into left. The senior matched a season high with three hits.
Indiana State right-hander Collin Libertatore (10-2) was saddled with his second loss in 16 starts. Vanderbilt’s offense finished 6-for-15 (.400) with two outs and went 6-for-13 (.462) with runners in scoring position.
Commodore reliever Jake Eder stopped the bleeding in the ninth after the Sycamores (42-17) four times with no outs and threatened for more. The southpaw struck out Jarrod Watkins before inducing a game-ending 6-4-3 double play for his third save.