Eric Anderson played the role of hero again on Friday.
April 11, 2014
LEXINGTON, Ky. - For the second consecutive SEC game, Mizzou relied on the heroics of fifth-year senior Eric Anderson (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) as it defeated No. 15 Kentucky, 8-7, on Friday night (April 11) at Hagan Stadium. Anderson launched a go-ahead, three-run homer in the top of the eighth inning, just a half inning after UK plated five runs to take the lead. It was his third homer of the season and his third hit of the day as he went 3-for-5 with a double, a homer and three RBI while scoring a pair of runs. Junior closer Keaton Steele (St. Joseph, Mo.) earned his eighth save of the season, striking out three over 2.0 shutout innings. The win improves Mizzou 16-16 and 5-8 in SEC play. Kentucky falls to 22-12 and 6-7 in league play. Mizzou has now won three in a row.
Anderson's heroics come just one SEC game removed from tossing his first career complete game, striking out 12 and allowing just six hits in a win over Georgia. He walked none in that start and willed Mizzou to victory in that game. Sophomore Breckin Williams (Oronogo, Mo.) earned the win for Mizzou, his second of the season. Although Anderson was the hero, Mizzou also got a big day from senior catcher Dylan Kelly (Roswell, Ga.), who drove in two runs and tallied a pair of hits and two RBI. Freshman Ryan Howard (St. Charles, Mo.) also tallied a pair of RBI in the win and a hit to open the eighth in front of Anderson's homer. The win erased a great performance from UK's AJ Reed who drove in four and struck out a career-best 10 over 7.0 innings.
Mizzou got on the board first in the top of the first inning and it once again was sparked by Anderson, the leadoff hitter. Anderson ripped a 2-2 pitch down the left field line for a double, marking the 14th time in 22 games since moving to the leadoff spot that he has reached base safely. He was singled home on a clutch two-out hit by Kelly. Kendall Keeton (Columbia, Tenn.) tallied a two-out hit as well, but Josh Lester (Columbus, Ga.) struck out to strand a pair. In all, Mizzou sent six batters to the plate in the first and saw 27 pitches from Reed. Four of the six batters saw at least five pitches - the other two batters tallied singles as well.
Graves came out allowed a one-out RBI double to Reed to tie the game. His team-high 10th double of the season plated Max Kuhn, who walked and advanced to second on a wild pitch. It was Kuhn's SEC-leading 26th walk. Graves settled in and got a strikeout and a pop-up to center field to send the game to the second inning.
In the top of the second inning, Mizzou saw 20 more pitches off of Reed and Anderson again came up huge, lacing a two-out, two-strike hit into right field and UK right fielder Kyle Barrett threw the ball into the Missouri dugout as Dillon Everett (Phoenix, Ariz.), who singled earlier in the inning, scored from first. That sent the game to the bottom of the second with Mizzou on top, 2-1.
In the bottom of the second, Everett then helped out his pitcher, running down out No. 3 on the track, over his shoulder. That helped Graves get through the frame on just six pitches. Kelly then launched his second homer of the season to give Mizzou a 3-1 lead after 2.5 innings. It was a solo dinger over the right field fence.
Reed then got to Graves in the fourth for a solo homer that snuck over the wall in right center as UK cut the lead to 3-2. It was Reed's NCAA leading 13th homer of the season. But Mizzou answered in the top of the fifth as freshman Ryan Howard (St. Charles, Mo.) delivered a big two-out hit. After Reed retired the first two Tiger batters, Kelly was hit by a pitch and Keeton singled into left center before Lester drew a five-pitch walk. Howard then came up and dropped a Texas-league single into right center with the bases load to plate a pair of runs. That gave Mizzou a 5-2 lead heading to the bottom of the fifth.
Things stayed that way until the seventh when Kentucky loaded the bases with no outs after an infield hit, an error and a walk. Graves was then lifted for Austin Tribby (Springfield, Mo.) who gave up a bases-loaded chopper to first on an 0-2 to Reed, but it took a bad hop off of Keeton's glove at first and was ruled a base hit, allowing a pair of runs to score. That cut the lead to 5-4 and was just the third hit off of Tribby by a left handed hitter this season in 29 at-bats. UK then added two more runs as Breckin Williams (Oronogo, Mo.) took over. UK did it on a big-chop single through the right side and a sacrifice fly as it plated five runs in the frame to take a 7-5 lead.
But Anderson's heroics took over in the top of the eighth as he launched his three-run homer with one out off of UK reliever Spencer Jack, his third of the season and the third off of Jack as well. Howard and Everett had back-to-back singles in front of a sacrifice bunt by Jake Ring (Ingleside, Ill.) before Anderson's bomb. Steele shut it down from there, walking around a two-out hit and hit batter in the ninth.
Game two of the series will be tomorrow night at 6 p.m. CT on Fox Sports South. For all the latest on Mizzou baseball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MizzouBaseball.
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