Ahead in the Count: Pitcher Eli Anderson tallies transcendent spring, terrorizes league’s batters

Huskie hurler proves unshakable in the Mid-American Conference

Eli Anderson

Eli Anderson

Northern Illinois junior pitcher Eli Anderson has been a terror for opposing teams this season, most specifically against Mid-American Conference opponents.

With Week Eight of MAC play under way this weekend, Anderson has a 7-0 record with a 0.89 earned run average, helping the Huskies to a 14-7 clip in conference games to lead the conference’s West Division, three games ahead of Ball State.

Anderson’s performances on the mound in conference play have been masterful as he has thrown five complete games, including four straight from March 23 through April 13. The Glenview, Ill. native started his impressive run with a 3-0 shutout win over reigning College World Series participant Kent State when he struck out eight and walked three.

In the Mid-American Conference, Anderson has fanned 44 batters and walked 10 with a shutout, a combined shutout, 54 scoreless innings and has a 0.93 WHIP in 61 innings pitched over seven starts.

“Statistically he’s great, he has outstanding command of his pitches and has a good feel for the batters he faces,” says head coach Ed Mathey. “He fields his spot well and he’s done everything that we’ve asked of him and more this season.”

As a sophomore in 2012, Anderson became a midweek starter finishing with a 2-2 record and a 6.79 ERA. He started 2013 as the Huskies Saturday pitcher, making 11 starts with a 7-3 record and made his first Friday start May 3 at Toledo, pitching eight scoreless innings with three strikeouts and one walk for his eighth win of the year.

Eli Anderson

Eli Anderson

When watching Anderson pitch, his ability to work the strike zone and get ahead in the count, separates him from other pitchers in the country.

In a start versus Western Michigan April 13, his fourth complete game of the season, Anderson struck out 12 and walked zero batters in a 121 pitch, 87 strike effort. Almost 72 percent of his pitches thrown were for strike that afternoon at Ralph McKinzie Field. 18 of the 35 batters he faced went down with two strikes on them (.514).

Though statistics point to Anderson’s value on the mound, it’s the things that don’t show on the box that have truly made Anderson an invaluable commodity, Mathey said.

“Eli has an outstanding presence on the mound and really has a good feel on the batters that he faces. He works with a good flow and pace on the mound that allows the position guys to play their spot.”

Anderson’s season has been nearly unprecedented at Northern Illinois as no Huskie starting pitcher has posted an ERA under 2.00 since Chuck Mytich in 1975 (1.74). With two regular season starts remaining, the Glenview native has posted a mark of 1.97 in 91.1 innings pitched, the 10th most in a single season all-time at NIU. His eight wins are tied for the fifth-most all-time, one short of the all-time record of nine.

Anderson and the Huskies will look to clinch the Mid-American Conference Championship this weekend against Eastern Michigan, also an unprecedented feat in the program. The series will begin at 3:05 p.m. Friday, May 10, at Ralph McKinzie Field as Anderson takes the bump with a chance to make just a little more history.

For more information on NIU baseball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.

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