COLUMBIA — Eric Anderson made his comeback.
When the Missouri pitcher's freshman season was cut short last year because of a torn labrum in his right arm, he lost almost a year of competition. In April, he made his first start since recovering from the injury. The Tigers won against Central Arkansas, but Anderson pitched only two innings.
Friday night, Anderson threw a three-hitter, throwing seven scoreless innings in Missouri's 11-1 win over Texas Tech in the opening game of a three-game series at Taylor Stadium. He threw 94 pitches, the most in any game since his surgery.
"There were some rough weeks here and there, I think that comes with having surgery," Anderson said. "I just kept telling myself to keep working hard and it'll all work out."
Anderson will tell you he always knew he would make it back to the mound, but coach Tim Jamieson tells a different story.
"When he first went out there, he wasn't sure, no matter what he tells you," Jameison said.
And since Anderson threw his first pitch this season, Jameison said he's watched him grow from uncertainty into confidence.
"You can see that confidence in all his pitches," Jameison said. "The guys behind him sense that, they play with more confidence because of that. Eric's the missing piece."
Anderson spent this season learning how to pitch a baseball, not just throw one, and said he is a better pitcher for it.
"Right now I'm a better pitcher than I was when I had all my velocity," Anderson said. "It's learning how to pitch, especially at this level (because) everyone can hit a 93 mile-per-hour fast ball if it's right down the middle."
Jameison agreed and said that even though his velocity is down, Anderson has learned to focus on the location of his pitches, commanding and controlling them more.
"I've learned to pitch with what I have," Anderson said. "And tonight it was enough."
As the starting pitcher in the opening game of the Kansas State series last weekend, Anderson also threw seven innings and said it was a turning point for him.
"I kind of broke the threshold. I finally went deep into a game," Anderson said. "Tonight when I came into the game, mentally I told myself, 'I'm going to go deep into this game.'"
The Tiger's offense also broke a threshold with their biggest victory of the season. And like Anderson's pitching, Jameison said the offensive success is because of confidence.
"You can see it in the way the guys walk up to the plate, they're a lot more confident. They believe they're going to get a hit," Jameison said. "We're getting big hits now."
Eric Garcia and Brannon Champagne both had 4 RBIs. Garcia hit two triples, the first Tiger to do so in a game since 2008. The fifth inning saw five runs from the Tigers, two thanks to Champagne and his bases-loaded double.
The Tigers finish their home season with the series. The second game is schedule for Saturday at 2 p.m. and the final on Sunday at 1 p.m.
The Mizzou Athletic Department will host a Spring Fan Fest before Saturday's game for the baseball and softball teams beginning at 11:30 a.m. inside the Audrey J. Walton Track and Field Stadium. Family activities will be provided, including a balloon artist and face painting, as well as food and beverages.