Just five months removed from claiming their second national baseball championship, the Vanderbilt Commodores hosted the Michigan Wolverines the team they defeated for the title back in June to Nashville for the Innaugural David WIlliams Memorial Fall Classic game on Sunday, and what we saw from the Commodores young arms was impressive.
Michigan won the game Sunday, 3-2 with a ninth inning run off freshman Chris McElvain, who but for an error could have sent the game to extra innings.
Still the collection of young arms Tim Corbin sent to the mound, not to mention the stars who did not pitch Sunday, should have Commodores fans excited for the coming season.
Freshman Jack Leiter, son of former major league pitcher and two time all-star, three time world series champion Al Leiter started the game Sunday. The younger Leiter allowed two runs in his first appearance in a Commodores uniform at Hawkins Field, but the Summitt, New Jersey native also struck out 4 of the 16 Michigan hitters set down in the game.
Leiter went two innings, allowing two hits along with the two runs, but showed flashes of what he was considered a top ten prospect for last years MLB draft before deciding to honor his commitment to the Commodores.
Michael Doolin, a freshman from Shereville, Indiana followed Leiter, and the 6'3 220 showed his stuff as well, striking out 3 Wolverines in two scoreless, hitless innnings of work.
The line of young arms wouldhave stopped there for most team, but apparently the Commodores aren't most teams.
Following a scoreless inning of work from sophomore Ethan Smith, whoalso struck out one, it was true freshamn Sam Hliboki, from Los Angeles who would take to the mound.
Hliboki (pronounced Li-bok-i, the H is silent) a 6'3" right hander might have been the most impressive of the bunch, throwing two scoreless, hitless innings while striking out five Michigan hitters.
Then Corbin turned to redshirt freshman Lukle Murphy from Cross Plains, Tn. who provided the Commodores with a hitless, scoreless eigth inning and added one strikeout to the team total before giving way to McElvain, another true freshman.
McElvain, a 6'1" right hander from Spring Hill, Tn. struck out two, allowed one hit and an unearned run to close the day.
Granted, they are freshmen and have a lot to learn along with getting stronger in the weight room, but the talent is obvious and it came against a team capable of making it to Omaha.
Oh and least we forget that Mason Hickman and Kumar Rocker were mearly interested bystanders as these young arms showed their stuff.
What happened on Sunday will have no impact on what fate these young arms, and this team will have this season, but it's clear that the Commodores are not falling behind in this arms race.