Last night was amazing. Forget it. Survive and advance.
Kumar Rocker put the whole team on his back and took us to White Castle.
Last night is over. There is only today.
In game three of the Nashville Regional, the bats came alive. Phil “The Hitman” Clarke led off the scoring with a solo shot in the 4th inning. In the 5th, Chinfante gave us the lead with a solo shot over the monster. In the 6th, Duvall effectively killed Indiana State’s innocence with a soul destroying Grand Slam. One batter later, Chinfante twisted the knife with his 2nd dinger of the day.
Perhaps lost in that 12-1 trolley stomping was who was on the mound to hold Indiana State at bay: Sophomore RHP Mason “The Stonecutter” Hickman (8-0, 2.12 ERA).
He’s on the mound again tonight.
Duke will likely counter with Jr. LHP Bill “Netflix And” Chillari (2-3, 4.75 ERA), who made 15 starts on the year, and—
(Kumar Rocker bursts in and grabs the microphone)
You damn straight, Kumar!
Like Rocker last night, The Stonecutter has been showing Ace stuff of late. Sitting low 90s with plus control and a curve he can spot for strikes in any count, Hickman controls the mound.
Like Walker Buehler before him, The Stonecutter was used primarily as a mid-week starter during the regular season, until he kicked down the door and forced Corbs’ hand by the start of the postseason.
In his last game on the mound—the Regional clinching game three win against Indiana State—Hickman was calm, collected, and piece by piece completely dismantled the Larry Birds. Though they had plated four in the 9th against the previously untouchable Tyler “The Deliveryman” Brown the night prior, Hickman methodically picked them apart, going 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 9 K in an efficient 94 pitches. Had the Dores not been up by 9 runs at the time, Hickman may have closed the game out. We won 12-1.
In Hickman’s start before that—Vanderbilt’s opening game of the SEC Tourney against a fellow Super Regional team (The Auburn University War Tigers)—Hickman was similarly dominant, and he did it in the same effortless fashion that has become his calling card. His final line of that game? 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 9 K in 102 pitches. We won 11-1.
In case you’re wondering, Kumar Rocker’s line against Indiana State—the start before last night’s all-timer—was: 6 & 2/3 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 8 K in 101 pitches.
Last night, Kumar provided the blueprint for shutting down Duke’s offense: Spot your heater, drop the curve for the swinging K, don’t shake off your catcher, work fast, and devour their souls with a 19 K no hitter that may have been the best game ever pitched in the NCAA.
So... you know... do that.
(please and thank you)