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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Press Conference Notes: Corbin on VandyBoys’ health, growth of star pitchers

Sophomore catcher CJ Rodriguez joined Corbin in Wednesday afternoon’s press conference.
Truman McDaniel
Vanderbilt Players get ready for the game against Tennessee Tech on Tuesday, March 30th, 2021. (Hustler Multimedia/ Truman McDaniel)

Following a 5-4 win against in-state opponent UT-Martin on Tuesday, head baseball coach Tim Corbin answered questions about the team as they head into a three-game series against the Georgia Bulldogs (19-10, 3-6 SEC) starting Thursday.

The matchup against UT-Martin revealed the Commodores’ depth on the mound, as freshmen Christian Little and Hunter Owen pitched six combined innings before being relieved by upperclassmen Luke Murphy and Chris McElvain. With injuries and COVID-19 protocols sidelining some arms, Corbin said the pitching depth plays a significant role.

“It’s certainly good when other kids step in and play as if they have been playing for a while…but that’s why they’re here. It’s an open door for them, and they take it and run with it,” Corbin said. “It is tough to fall out of the lineup here, but at the same time, we’d rather not be exposed to more injuries right now.”

Corbin also stated that both sophomore Parker Noland and junior Dominic Keegan will be available for this weekend’s series, as both suffered minor injuries in their last game.

The Commodores’ dynamic starting pitching duo of Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter have stood out from the rest of college baseball this season. Each pitcher has seven wins, zero losses, and sub-one ERAs. Corbin explained how they compete and succeed even with high pitch counts. 

“You could call it competitiveness, but I think endurance has a lot to do with it. The mentality of getting through something with the internal push you get from your own self esteem,” Corbin said of the two pitchers. “They’re punchers. They are punchers who are willing to go as many rounds as they need to in order to finish what they need to.”

Sophomore catcher CJ Rodriguez, who caught Leiter’s recent no-hitter, also described how the star pitcher has been able to thrive from a teammate’s perspective.

“I can’t really pinpoint one thing, his routine is so tedious.” Rodriguez continued, “I kind of know his cues to get him back zoned in…He’s just been a little more locked in recently, more comfortable on the mound.”

The duo’s performance has led them to steadily gain national acclaim at a young age, with industry analysts writing articles that compare and project their MLB potential.

“I think both of those kids handle themselves very well. They don’t look at that situation, it doesn’t knock them backwards,” Corbin said. “They are standing on solid footing, both of them.” 

Heading back into SEC play, the Commodores (24-3, 8-1) hope to defend Hawkins Field from the Georgia Bulldogs and continue their nine-game winning streak, starting on Thursday, April 8 at 6:00 PM CST. 

“[Georgia has] a very athletic offensive team,” Corbin said. “It’ll be good, I’m glad we’re playing back here in front of, well, at least a few humans in the seats. And I think there will be some decent weather, so I’m looking forward to it.”


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About the Contributors
Jonah Crist, Staff Writer
Jonah Crist ('24) is a Human and Organizational Development major in Peabody College. He is from Marysville, Ohio and enjoys spending his time walking around Vanderbilt's campus listening to old music and watching NBA games whenever possible. You can reach him at [email protected].
Truman McDaniel, Former Multimedia Sports Specialist
Truman McDaniel (2023) is a student in the College of Arts & Science majoring in Environmental and Ecological Biology and Political Science. In his free time, he enjoys taking pictures, drinking coffee and watching movies. He can be reached at [email protected].    

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