Anderson pitchers combine for no-hitter despite issuing 7 walks

Still in the first week of its baseball season, Anderson is far from a finished product. Its pitching has been good — not great — and the offense has shined at times but also has come up empty in big spots.

Thursday’s 10-0 win over Cambridge City Lincoln is a perfect example.

Winning by run rule in six innings can be impressive, but this one could have been more so. The Indians stranded 10 runners including in the fifth with the bases loaded and just one out and a chance to end the game.

Back-to-back strikeouts in the middle of the Anderson lineup ended the threat.

“You’ve got to have more intensity,” Anderson coach Adrian Heim said. “We went through the motions and did what we had to do.”

On the mound, a trio of Anderson pitchers combined for a no-hitter but were flirting with danger throughout. Starter Drew Baker in the second and reliever Conner Stump in the fifth recorded the only perfect innings for a staff that walked seven batters and hit another.

Baker struck out seven batters over 2 2/3 innings, Jaxon Milburn fanned three in 1 1/3 innings and Stump struck out the side in the seventh to work around an error and a walk.

Six of the walks were issued with two strikes on the batter.

“That’s going to get us beat Saturday. It’ll get us beat in (Madison) County. It’ll get us beat,” Heim said. “It’s early. You’re going to see some of that, but it’s unacceptable because I’m preaching pitch to contact, but you’ve got high school kids who want to strike everybody out.”

But Anderson (3-0) did enough, and it started with the team’s speed, one area that never goes into a slump.

Leadoff batter Dontrez Fuller set the tone and applied immediate pressure in the first inning. After he was hit by the first pitch he saw, he promptly stole second and moved on to third when Gavin Trent’s throw sailed into center field.

One out later, he trotted home on Baker’s grounder to second for an early 1-0 lead as Anderson went on to score in every inning.

Through three games, the Anderson leadoff batter has been on base eight times, has stolen two bases and scored six times. Being the team’s table setter is a role Fuller takes seriously.

“Get on base any way you can, even if you have to lay a bunt down,” he said. “Hard work is hard work, but it’ll come to me.”

In the second, Jeremiah walked with one out, and courtesy runner Ke’avon Burt stole second and scored on a single by Kaydin Hutchison.

“That’s going to be one of our big assets is our team speed,” Heim said. “We talked about our leads yesterday at practice because they weren’t very good Monday night, and we weren’t getting our signs right. We did a much better job tonight. But it’s early. We’ve just got to keep getting better.”

In the third, a two-run single to center by Steven Reyes doubled the lead to 4-0 before the Indians scored three more times in the fourth. Kairo Parks and Baker delivered RBI singles, and Baker scored on a wild pitch for a 7-0 advantage.

Anderson was on the brink of closing the game out in the fifth when Parks singled home Burt before Baker walked to load the bases.

But Kaeman Coon struck out Carter Hunt and Milburn — the team’s four- and five-hole hitters — to end the inning.

Three Eagles’ errors in the sixth put Anderson runners on second and third with nobody out, but back-to-back infield pop outs nearly forced the game to go to the seventh inning. But Fuller lined a 2-0 pitch to the fence in left-center field for a two-run double to end the game by mercy rule.

Fuller, who also homered Monday, said hitting the weight room has added some pop to his bat to compliment the speed he brings to the base paths.

“That felt great,” Fuller said. “I’ve been hitting the weight room hard. It’s been good.”

Although the Indians played two games Monday against Arsenal Tech at home, it was a rescheduled doubleheader due to incoming mid-week weather. Thursday, the Anderson School Corporation celebrated the official grand opening of the new diamond, with dignitaries from across the school corporation, a performance of “Amazing Grace” by a school bagpipe player, a performance of the national anthem from the show choir and a ceremonial first pitch from Indians great Brad Meadows.

The Indians will travel to Hamilton Heights for a Saturday morning doubleheader as a final tune-up for next week’s Nick Muller Memorial Baseball Tournament, which opens Tuesday. Anderson will play at Alexandria at 5:30 p.m.