COLUMBIA — Eric Anderson hesitated before even mentioning it. The pitcher really did feel grateful for the offensive support.
His arm, though, might not have.
Making his first pitching start since discovering a torn labrum in his right arm last April, Anderson watched from the dugout in the bottom of the second inning as his teammates presumably made his job a little easier against Central Arkansas on Tuesday at Taylor Stadium.
The Tigers scored one run. Then another. And another.
Soon Anderson felt his arm begin to tighten from the long period of inactivity. He got up played catch to try and keep it loose, all the while looking back at the plate.
"I was like, 'Alright, we scored a couple of runs,' " Anderson said. " 'Let's go ahead and get out.' "
Missouri ended up scoring six runs in the inning and went on to win 11-4, building on a pattern that has defined its offense so far this season.
Missouri (11-10) has scored 51 of its 125 runs in the first three innings.
But that hasn't always led to success, coach Tim Jamieson pointed out. It's the runs added later in the game that have usually determined a win or loss.
"Scoring first allows your pitcher to relax a little bit, but you need to continue to score," Jamieson said. "That's what we did tonight."
Missouri didn't technically score first. Central Arkansas picked up one in the first inning. But the runs came often enough to make it seem that way. The Tigers added another run in the fifth and four more in the sixth.
In doing so, they took care of an opponent that they could have overlooked in anticipation for the Big 12 Conference opener against Oklahoma on Friday.
"It's exciting whenever you get into conference," first baseman Scott Sommerfeld said. "The competition and the rivalry is what makes baseball fun. But we said that's Friday, and today and tomorrow we have Central Arkansas.
"We're on a roll, and we want to keep that momentum going."
Sommerfeld had three hits and three RBI for Missouri. Designated hitter Jonah Schmidt added another three hits and an RBI.
They accounted for three of the runs in the second inning but kept producing hits an every at-bat, just as Jamieson was looking for.
"It’s important to score early, we've struggled in putting teams away," Schmidt said. "We put an emphasis on it, and did it tonight."
The only downside to the six-run second inning was its effect on Anderson. In the third inning, he loaded the bases without getting an out before getting pulled from the game.
After the game he by no means complained. He needed to mention the irony, though.
"The more runs the better — we can always use the insurance," Anderson said. "But as I sit around more and more, my arm will tighten up. So that long inning, I don't know if that helped me at all."