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Sunday Game Thread: Game 3 vs. The University of Illinois-Chicago Chicago Fire of the MLS

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Yesterday we took the series. Today we go for the sweep. 1pm CT on SECN+. Oh, and it’s Jack Leiter day. Sheeeeeeeeeeeiiiiiit.

Assorted Macro Shoots
Leiter on the mound to close things out.
Photo by Chris Rutter/Digital Camera Magazine/Future via Getty Images

Vanderbilt defeated UIC 5-2 Saturday afternoon. Though the bats did not explode like they did on Friday, Carter Young (3-5 with a 2B and a HR), Dom Keegan (2-4 with a 3B), and Parker Noland (2-4 with 2 RBI) continued their hot hitting ways.

Young’s HR was his 4th of the season, and I think it’s safe to say none of us expected this power surge from the slick SS this early in his career. He currently has a .389/.442/.889 slash line with 4 2B 1 3B and 4 HR through just 36 AB. Extrapolate that out to a full season (say 275 AB), and we’re looking at a Golden Spikes caliber bat, with around 30 Dingers! For context, JJ Bleday hit 27 HR in his dominant 2019 season. Of course, no one expects Young to replicate Bleday’s feat, but that is the pace he is currently on.

Oh, and by that same metric, Dom Keegan (.536/.649/1.286!!!) would have 39 HR in 275 AB. Taking into account Keegan’s plate discipline—Keegan has walked or been HBP 9 times to Young’s 5—Keegan is likely to reach only around 250 AB. Even at that slowed down pace, he’s on track to hit 35 HR.

Scream “SMALL SAMPLE SIZE” all you want, but Young and Keegan have looked fantastic at the plate thus far. Let’s hope it continues, and the power surge rises with the warmer weather.

Parker Noland (CAN’T LOSE) might not be putting up the otherworldly numbers of Keegan and Young, but he’s having a hell of a start to his sophomore campaign, as well. The 3B/DH has batted cleanup both games this series, and has gone 3-6 with 2 RBI, 2R, and 2 BB. Not too shabby. Beyond that, he appears to have the clutch gene, and it’s likely that attribute—more even than his power potential—that has him batting 4th (well, that and being a left handed bat to split up the righties Dom and I.T.). 9 games into 2021, Noland has a slash line of .344/.447/.531 with 3 2B and a HR.

On the mound, Kumar Rocker (3-0; 0.86 ERA) got the win; Luke Murphy the save (0-0; 0.00 ERA; 2 SV). Rocker clearly did not have his best stuff or control, and still, his pitching line on the afternoon was:

Pretty amazing that that line is considered underwhelming, but such is Kumar.

On The Mound

#22 Vanderbilt So. RHP Jack “Leits Out” Leiter (2-0; 0.00 ERA)

vs.

#50 UIC Grad Student RHP Ryan “Not the Hockey Player” O’Reilly (0-0; 10.13 ERA)

If you’re UIC, you got shut out by 5 Diamond Dores on Friday; had to face Rocker, Hliboki, and Murphy on Saturday, and your reward for all of this is Jack Leiter and a nearly full bull pen on Sunday afternoon.

The Lineup