Vanderbilt’s Jack Leiter nearly throws his second straight no-hitter

Vanderbilt RHP Jack Leiter flirted with a no-hitter for a second consecutive start on Friday as he continues to make his case for being No. 1 in July’s MLB Draft

Six days ago, Jack Leiter solidified his status as a top prospect for July’s MLB Draft by throwing a no-hitter for Vanderbilt. So what did he do for an encore on Friday? Nearly do it again.

Leiter, Vanderbilt’s right-handed sophomore and the son of former Major League pitcher Al, threw seven no-hit innings before being lifted after 101 pitches in an 11-3 victory over Missouri. Leiter has now thrown 16 consecutive hitless innings and narrowly missed the feat done only by Johnny Vander Meer in the big leagues.

Leiter was untouchable last Saturday against South Carolina, striking out 16 on his way to Vanderbilt’s first no-hitter since teammate Kumar Rocker in the 2019 Super Regionals and the first in the regular season since 1971. All of his strikeouts came on fastballs that touched 97 mph. He retired the final 27 batters he faced following a leadoff walk in the first inning. His final pitch, the 124th of the game, was a 96-mph fastball as he duplicated the feat his father pulled off for the Florida Marlins in 1996.

On Friday against Missouri, he was just as good. He even mixed in a sharp slider and a big-breaking curveball, striking out 10 over his seven innings. His only blemishes were two walks, one leading off the third — snapping a streak of 35 consecutive retired batters — and another with one out in the fifth.

In 36 innings this season, Leiter has given up just seven hits and one earned run (0.25 ERA) while striking out 59. Baseball America ranks him as the second-best draft prospect, behind only Rocker. Teammates have never been selected with the first two picks in MLB Draft history.

Vanderbilt has 32 games left on their schedule. Leiter and Rocker will continue to compete with each other for the honor of being the first overall pick. The Pittsburgh Pirates are already on the clock; Leiter has done everything he can over his last two starts to make sure that selection is him.

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