COLUMBIA — Catcher Brett Nicholas had trouble coming up with a word to describe how Eric Anderson pitched.
Anderson’s start wasn’t good, but it wasn’t bad. It wasn’t pretty, but it wasn’t ugly. Almost like a …
“Bulldog,” Nicholas finally decided.
And like an adorable yet disgusting bulldog, Anderson was vicious and persistent. He found a way to adjust his pitching style and keep the Missouri baseball team in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader against Baylor at Taylor Stadium.
Anderson, a freshman, is normally a power pitcher. He blows people away with fastballs and uses his offspeed pitches to keep them off balance. When he didn’t have his fastball working, he had to rely on his slower pitches to get the outs.
“It’s just going out and competing,” Anderson said. “I didn’t have my best stuff. I wasn’t pitching how I normally pitch. To get through that, you have to make adjustments and just go out there and compete and see what happens.”
Anderson gave up all five of his runs in the second inning. He was able to pitch four scoreless innings after the setback.
Coach Tim Jamieson said his pitcher showed courage.
“He’s not afraid,” Jamieson said. “His stuff is not as good as it’s going to be, but he competes. He finds a way to overcome even his own mistakes. That’s a trait, something that’s real positive. Hopefully he can get the stuff along with that and he can be a pretty special pitcher.”
Anderson walked two batters to start the second inning. Jamieson called the strike zone wide, but fair.
“Eric had the one bad inning, and it was a bad inning,” Jamieson said. “You can’t give up a five spot. Particularly in the first game of the weekend. I was real pleased we battled back the way we did, but that was a poorly pitched inning."
The Tigers came back from the 5-0 deficit to take a 6-5 lead before the bullpen, which has been strong all season, gave up 15 runs and the Tigers lost 20-6.
Anderson was in line for his second victory of the year, but he said he wasn’t upset.
“Of course it’s frustrating,” Anderson said. “Everyone in the dugout’s frustrated when something like that happens. We’re a staff and we work together. You’ve got to take it to where it’s not your frustrated because they’re hurting you personally. It’s a team game. It’s frustrating because the team’s not winning.”
Nick Tepesch pitched 8 2/3 innings in the second game, which was huge for the Tigers with their bullpen taking a beating in the first game. But the Tigers (14-11, 1-4 Big 12) still lost 7-3.
Tepesch, a junior, remembers being in the same spot as Anderson: a freshman trying to establish his role. He said he treats the younger Anderson like any other teammate.
“Just encourage him,” Tepesch said. “If he asks me for advice, I give up him advice.”
The duo is certainly making a case for being considered the Tigers’ No. 1 and No. 2 pitchers.
Jamieson does not like to make anything permanent, but the pitchers’ strong performances did make him leak out some information.
“I’d say Nick and Eric are two of our starters,” Jamieson said.
Missouri plays Baylor in the final game of the series at 1 p.m., Sunday at Taylor Stadium.