Anderson's quality start spoiled by 5-run 7th inning by Arkansas-Monticello

May 17—Missouri Southern State University freshman Keaton Anderson pitched the No. 2 Lions into the seventh inning with a 4-0 lead in the second round of the Central Region baseball tournament on Friday evening at MSSU.

But with one out and runners on first and second for No. 6 University of Arkansas at Monticello, Anderson ran out of steam and head coach Bryce Darnell had to go to his bullpen.

"Keaton (Anderson) told us he was getting tired in the sixth. We tried to squeeze one more out of him," Darnell said.

The start went to waste as things quickly unraveled and the Weevils picked up four hits and five runs after the pitching change before the Missouri Southern bullpen could get out of the jam. Monticello led 5-4 after the seventh inning and went on to claim a 7-4 win.

"Obviously, our bullpen couldn't get out of it. He (Anderson) pitched great," Darnell added.

The win sends the Weevils into the championship game on Saturday at 5 p.m. MSSU will have to win at 1 p.m. in order to reach the finals and then will need to beat Monticello twice in order to advance to the super regionals.

"Trent Harris will get the ball in Game 1, and we're going to have to grind a little harder tomorrow than we did today," Darnell said. "I thought we were good enough offensively to win. Giving up runs late in the game will get you beat."

MSSU has now struggled with allowing late offense in both Central Region games. It overcame that on Thursday but couldn't do so this time around.

UAM head coach John Harvey talked about his team sticking in it after struggling all night against Anderson.

"We didn't panic, but, at the same time from a coaching perspective, I'm watching their starter and he's just cruising," Harvey said. "He was throwing really well, and we had no answer for the changeup or the off-speed pitches. Once he ran out of gas, we welcomed that."

Harvey admitted he was a little nervous about how deep Anderson may be able to go because his lineup couldn't string anything together.

Opposite of Darnell's bunch, Harvey's relievers came in and shut it down after the Lions had tallied four runs on starting pitcher Charles Peacock.

Jacob McDaniel came in during the sixth inning and got the last two outs. He went on to pitch a total of three innings before giving way to Nelson Mercado in the ninth inning.

Treghan Parker singled in the ninth to force Harvey to go to Mercado. Mercado got a strikeout of pinch hitter Wyatt Morgan and then hit pinch hitter Ryan Cline. Mercado got the save by getting Drew Townsend to send a routine fly ball to DeShaun Cordova in center field.

"It's huge to win the first two. In a tournament like this, nobody really has the pitching depth to go into the loser's bracket. You just have to swing your way out of it," Harvey said.

This was a much different pitching staff than MSSU saw in February. That Monticello staff walked or hit 20 different Lions (18 walks, two HBP). The Weevils only walked two and hit three batters Friday.

A big part of the comeback was standout freshman Camden Tanner for UAM. He started the day 0 for 3 but came through in the seventh with a two-RBI double to make it 4-3 in favor of MSSU.

"Early in the game, I kind of struggled and got down. But we got guys on and had to take advantage of it," Tanner said. "Once we start hitting, our lineup just keeps hitting."

Tanner said the experience throughout the year has helped him "deal with it" better when he's struggling on offense. He dealt with it Friday to overcome the struggles to deliver a productive hit and keep the line moving for the Weevils.

MSSU catcher Chayton Beck talked about what he saw unfold in the seventh inning as his pitching staff struggled and UAM strung multiple hits together for the first time all game.

"I think it was a combination of them hitting pitcher's pitches and we were missing the zone," Beck said. "Some were left over the plate, others were just hit. It's hard to be a pitcher."

A key at 1 p.m. Saturday against Harding is getting Trent Harris as deep into the game as possible in order to reserve some of the bullpen arms for the necessary three games in order to win this region.


MSSU's Henry Kusiak set the new MIAA record for career hits with his 88th of the year and 313th of his career. The record had stood at 312 by Brian McBride of Central Missouri for 16 years as he played from 2005-08.

Kusiak also became tied for second all-time in the MIAA with 52 career home runs when he delivered a solo shot to left field in the sixth inning. He finished the game 2 for 3 with two RBIs and was hit by a pitch.