Vanderbilt right-hander Jack Leiter, who threw a no-hitter against South Carolina last Saturday, departed his Friday night start against Missouri after seven no-hit innings. A pair of Commodores relievers were able to take the no-hitter into the bottom of the ninth before giving up a two-out single.
Leiter's final line saw him strike out 10 of the 23 batters he faced while issuing just two walks against a Tigers lineup that entered the night averaging 5.6 runs per contest. Leiter has now thrown 16 ⅔ consecutive no-hit innings, stretching across three starts and including his first 16 career innings against Southeastern Conference competition.
Sophomore righty Chris McElvain walked a batter in the eighth but otherwise struck out the side to preserve the no-hit bid. Freshman left-hander Nelson Berkwich then retired the first two batters he faced before yielding the single to junior pinch-hitter Tre Morris.
Leiter entered the spring ranked by CBS Sports as the top prospect in the upcoming draft. Here's what we wrote at the time:
Leiter's freshman year (all 15 innings of it) saw him post a 1.72 ERA and a 37 percent strikeout rate while utilizing an improved arsenal. His fastball can get into the mid-90s and looks good on a Trackman readout, his top-down curveball is devastating, and he has a quality slider. He's since added a cutter, and is said to be dead set on improving his changeup. Leiter has more than a deep well of pitches to draw from; he receives ample praise for his athleticism and his intelligence, with neither coming as a surprise given his bloodlines (his father, Al, and uncle, Mark, combined to pitch in 30 big-league seasons). He also stands to benefit from the era in which he pitches: smaller starters (he's listed at 6-foot) are now viewed more favorably because of the flat plane they create at the top of the zone, and because of declining workload expectations. So long as Leiter stays healthy and doesn't walk the park, he's a real candidate to go No. 1.
Leiter has now allowed seven hits and one earned run in 36 frames this season, giving him a 0.25 ERA. Teammate and fellow right-hander Kumar Rocker, meanwhile, is also considered a potential top-five pick.
Johnny Vander Meer is the only pitcher to ever throw consecutive no-hitters at the big-league level. His accomplishment came with the Cincinnati Reds on June 11 and June 15, 1938.