Missouri drops Georgia on strength of Anderson's complete game

Sunday, April 6, 2014 | 4:27 p.m. CDT; updated 8:52 p.m. CDT, Sunday, April 6, 2014
Missouri baseball beat Georgia 4-2 Sunday at home. Pitcher Eric Anderson scored two of the Tigers' four runs.

COLUMBIA — Eric Anderson was staying in the game. He needed no visits from Missouri pitching coach Matt Hobbs, no discussions with Tigers coach Tim Jamieson to sort that out. 

"They knew," Anderson said. "They saw it in my eyes."

"No, God no," Jamieson said when asked if he thought of removing his senior right-hander from the game. "He would have killed me."

Anderson threw a nine-inning game to lead Missouri (14-16, 4-8 Southeastern Conference) to a 4-2 win over Georgia. It was the longest outing of his career, and he had a career-high 12 strikeouts.

The senior right-hander was efficient, remarkably so when it came to throwing first-pitch strikes, which he did to 31 of the 34 batters he faced. 

He leaned heavily on his curveball and slider as the game went on, a change Anderson said he first noticed when he was facing Tennessee. But today was "different," he said.

"It's something you can't really explain, where first inning, second inning, it's just like everything is just meshing," Anderson said. "They put a little damage there in the middle, but I was still throwing the ball really well, right where I was wanting to throw it, besides that one pitch with the home run."

That home run, from Mike Bell in the fifth inning, came off perhaps the only clear mistake Anderson made. He threw a first-pitch fastball at belt height, and though Bell was clearly early on his swing, the ball sprung off his bat and landed in the left field bullpen.

Missouri scored all four of its runs in the first two innings and hung onto its lead for the rest of the game. Dylan Kelly drove Anderson home in the first. In the second, a throwing error from Georgia first baseman Daniel Nichols allowed two runs to score, and Kendall Keeton followed with a sacrifice fly to give the Tigers' a 4-0 lead. 

The only consultations Anderson needed on the mound were with Kelly, his catcher. In the fourth inning, with runners on first and second and two outs, Kelly trotted out to the mound after Anderson put two strikes on Georgia catcher Zack Bowers.

Kelly leaned in close and Anderson put his glove over his mouth. They spoke for about five seconds, after which Kelly gave Anderson a pat on the back and jogged back to the plate. 

On the next pitch, Anderson threw an inside breaking ball that froze Bowers for the strikeout. 

The next visit came in the top of the eighth, with two outs and a 1-2 count, but this time with the bases loaded. The scene was the same: A trip to the mound and back with a brief chat in between. 

"He (Kelly) goes, 'we can either bury one here or you go fastball in,'" Anderson said. "I was like, 'Man, I'm going to stick with what I've been doing best.'"

The breaking ball missed outside. But this was a day where everything was going right for Anderson, so the next pitch induced an easy bouncer to shortstop Josh Lester, who threw to first for the third out.

The Bulldogs went down in order in the ninth inning, which ended appropriately with a swinging strikeout on a breaking ball in the dirt. Anderson went through the handshake line with the opposing team, then embraced Hobbs and assistant coach Kerrick Jackson on his way back to the dugout.

When he was doing a radio interview with graduate manager Hunter Mense, Anderson still had his glove on. This was one outing that he clearly wanted to go on as long as possible. 

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