Baseball Blanks Swarthmore Behind Anderson's Gem

Friday, April 18, 2014
 

Women’s lacrosse

Even after working around some trouble in the first inning, Muhlenberg pitcher David Anderson had a feeling this was going to be a special game. Like most of his pitches on a crisp afternoon, the junior’s premonition was spot on.

David Anderson
Anderson also threw eight scoreless innings in a 2-1 victory over York in Myrtle Beach.
Anderson tossed eight shutout innings, battling through a late jam to put a bow on the Mules’ 3-0 blanking of Swarthmore – and one of the best performances of his career. The right-hander struck out four and didn’t walk a single batter, stranding nine runners to pick up his third win of the season and help Muhlenberg rebound from a 4-3 loss at Swarthmore two days earlier.

“I absolutely felt like this was going to be a great game from the start,” Anderson said. “The defense was making plays behind me, and that gave me so much confidence to make my pitches.”

No sequence of pitches was more important than his last. After scoring single runs in the first, second and fourth innings, the Mules (14-13, 7-4) were clinging to a 3-0 lead when the Garnet mounted a major threat in the eighth, loading the bases with only one out on two singles and a hit by pitch. Knowing another base runner would likely end his afternoon, Anderson saved his best for last.

The junior induced a shallow fly ball to center for the second out, then got the next Swarthmore hitter to bounce into an inning-ending fielder’s choice to escape the frame unscathed. Junior Phillip Balseca worked a 1-2-3 ninth to nail down his fourth save.

“I didn’t necessarily have a lot left in the tank, but I was going to give it everything I had,” Anderson said. “Phil is a great closer, so I knew I just had to get out of the inning. I was just focused on getting one batter at a time, one strike at a time.

“It wasn’t a panic; it was just a challenge,”Anderson continued. “I knew I could step up and make those pitches when I needed them, and fortunately I was able to execute.”

Danny Usewick
Usewick's three-bagger was the first of his career.
The nervous eighth wasn’t the only time Anderson had to navigate through danger. The Garnet (15-14, 4-8) put two on in each of the first two innings but came up empty before making a charge in the fifth.

Swarthmore had runners on second and third with one out when senior John Scuderi fielded a sharply hit grounder at third base. Surprisingly, the Garnet player went for home, and Scuderi delivered a strike to catcher Brett Rosen, who applied the tag for a huge second out. A groundout by the next batter ended the threat.

“That caught me off guard,” Anderson said of the Swarthmore runner’s decision to try to score. “I just started yelling ‘4’, and I think it caught him off guard too. When I started yelling he kind of looked around, and John made a great play to get him. That was a huge out.”

Anderson didn’t need much support, but the Mules gave him all he required in their first at-bat, when Scuderi delivered a two-out RBI single to make it 1-0. Freshman John Icaza plated Rosen with another two-out knock in the second, and junior Danny Usewick provided the final margin in the fourth, blasting a two-out triple over the head of the Garnet leftfielder.

“Scoring that one run in the first and again in the second was huge,” Anderson said. “Once the defense made plays and we had the lead, I knew I could pound the zone, and that makes you confident as a pitcher. You don’t have to worry about anything else.”

Junior Kurt Johnson had a strong game offensively, going 2-for-3 with a double, a run scored and a stolen base.

With the victory, the Mules kept pace with Haverford for second place in the Centennial Conference standings ahead of a crucial trip to Gettysburg. The Bullets, who suffered their first loss in league play Friday, are ranked No. 22 in Division III and have won 23 of their last 24 games.

“This was enormous, especially going into tomorrow,” Anderson said. “When you look at the standings, the top and the bottom are starting to really separate themselves, so the morale we have from being in a good position is a big advantage for us.”
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