Vandy's Rocker, Stanford's Beck dominate in super regionals

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Vanderbilt starting pitcher Kumar Rocker (80) is congratulated by teammates after he was taken out in the eighth inning of an NCAA college baseball super regional game against East Carolina, Friday, June 11, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. Vanderbilt won 2-0. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Vanderbilt's Kumar Rocker and Stanford's Brendan Beck turned in dominant pitching performances in NCAA super regionals Friday to put their teams on the cusp of berths in the College World Series.

Rocker led the reigning national champion Commodores to a 2-0 victory over East Carolina in Nashville, and Beck held down one of the nation's top offensive teams in a 15-3 win over Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas.

No. 1 national seed Arkansas made fast work of North Carolina State in the opener of its best-of-three series, getting a grand slam from Cullen Smith and two homers from Robert Moore in a 21-2 win in Fayetteville, Arkansas. It was the largest margin of victory in super regionals since the tournament went to its current format in 1999.

Tony Bullard continued his three-week offensive surge, homering twice and tripling to lead Arizona past Mississippi 9-3 in Tucson, Arizona.

Rocker was the biggest star of the last NCAA Tournament, and he's doing his thing again, keeping batters off balance while mixing his mid-90s fastball with a slider and curve.

“I just think he gives us what we need at the time that we need it,” coach Tim Corbin said. “And this is certainly a situation at the end of the year where games are important and they’re closely contested and there’s very little difference between teams. So you need guys that are willing to to get out there and leave it on the field, and he’s done that continually.”

Rocker, who could be the first player taken in the Major League Baseball draft next month, allowed three hits and struck out 11 in 7 2/3 innings in what was probably his final appearance at Hawkins Field. In the regional opener against Presbyterian last week, he threw seven innings of two-hit shutout ball for No. 4 national seed Vandy (44-15).

Rocker in 2019 pitched a no-hitter against Duke in the super regionals and was selected the CWS Most Outstanding Player. There was no NCAA Tournament last year because of the pandemic. He's now 6-0 in his career in the national tournament with a 0.63 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 42 2/3 innings.