The last time we checked in on freshman Vanderbilt pitcher Kumar Rocker, he had just vanquished the vile Duke Blue Devils with a 19-strikeout no-hitter that also featured some well-earned shit-talking. That start saved Vanderbilt from postseason elimination, and now they are facing off against Michigan in a three-game series for the title. Vandy lost Game 1, and so in last night’s Game 2 they once again turned to Rocker and asked him to save the day.
Rocker did not let his team down. Through 6.1 innings he held Michigan to three hits and one run while striking out 11 and walking two. The most thrilling part of Kumar’s outing was how he started it, striking out five of the first six batters he faced:
After the game, which Vanderbilt won 4-1, Michigan head coach Erik Bakich couldn’t help but be effusive in his praise for Rocker. “The big story line tonight was Kumar Rocker. He’s as advertised,” he said.
Rocker’s numbers throughout the NCAA Tournament have reached legendary status. After last night’s start, he has a 4-0 record, 0.96 ERA, and 44 strikeouts in 28 innings pitched. Rocker picked college after being drafted in the 38th round of the 2018 MLB draft, and that certainly seems to have been a good decision. Becoming a postseason hero who blows away hitters in the biggest game of the year is certainly a good way to raise one’s draft stock out of the 38th round.