Welcome to Dirtbags Baseball blog! I was introduced to Long Beach State baseball in 2002 when my nephew, Neil Jamison, joined the team (and university) as a freshman. I started the blog in March of 2004, and generally discuss the team, current players and those that have moved on to professional baseball - as Neil has done in the San Diego Padres organization. Living in San Diego County, and with Neil moving to the next level, I won't be attending as many Dirtbags games. But, mostly from a distance, I'll remain a Dirtbags fan. I welcome tips on stories and information concerning the Dirtbags (current, past and future). I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The right-hander has allowed one run in 12 innings
GARY HOROWITZ Statesman Journal
July 23, 2005
KEIZER -- In a recent game against Eugene, Salem-Keizer closer Brian Anderson came to the mound in the bottom of the ninth inning with the Volcanoes leading 3-1. The first batter he faced homered.
So how did Anderson handle that temporary setback? Well, he certainly didn't lose his composure.
Anderson struck out the next three hitters to earn the save. A momentary lapse turned into another successful outing.
"I've been talked to about going to a focal point after things aren't going good and reflect on my thoughts," Anderson said. "Just go back to work and get the next batter out, and the next batter, and then the next batter. ... Pitch by pitch."
It's a mental exercise that has served him well this season.
In fact, counting Friday's game against Everett, Anderson has allowed just one run in 12 innings.
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound right-hander from Long Beach State is 2-0 with an 0.82 earned-run average, has 20 strikeouts and no walks in 12 innings, and his seven saves ranks second in the Northwest League. Opponents are batting .125 against Anderson.
"He's not a hard thrower, he just throws strikes," Volcanoes pitching coach Jerry Cram said. "And he's got a demeanor out there that he's going to get you out."
Selected in the 14th round of the 2005 draft by the San Francisco Giants, Anderson arrived in Salem-Keizer uncertain of his role.
He was effective in a setup role at Long Beach State and combined with teammate Neil Jamison, now a member of the Eugene Emeralds, to form one of the premier relief tandems in college baseball in 2005.
Anderson was 3-0 with an 0.83 ERA last season for Long Beach State, which advanced to the NCAA regionals for the third time in the past four years. In four years for the 49ers, Anderson was never a closer.
But a role change with the Volcanoes has been a perfect fit.
"My expectation was not to come in here and be a closer, but to come in here and get innings and prove myself to move my way up," Anderson said. "Obviously, I've been lucky enough to get that closing role."
According to Jack Hiatt, the Giants' director of player development, moving Anderson into the closer's role was not a reach.
"If you set up, you can sure close," Hiatt said. "On a lot of (major league) ballclubs, the setup man closes ballgames on occasion.
"He's (Anderson) having his way right now. He certainly has the mental toughness and the control, and he has the stuff. Those are three main ingredients for a closer. Right now, his career is aiming toward being a closer."
You won't hear any complaints from Anderson, who enjoys the pressure of entering games with the outcome in the balance.
Most of the time, Anderson works in the ninth inning. If he has a bad outing, it likely would translate into a loss for the Volcanoes.
"I like going in when the game's close, when the game's on the line, all the pressure's on me," Anderson said. "I like the feeling of everyone knowing that I can come in and get the job done. The more confidence I have, the better I do."
When Anderson's teammates see him arrive on the hill, "pretty much the game's over," said starting pitcher Sergio Romo. "He's a very aggressive pitcher. He likes to stay in the zone."
Although Anderson doesn't bring heat, throwing in the mid-80s and low-90s, he has shown superb command with his slider and fastball. Mix in an occasional changeup and you have a difficult pitcher to hit.
"He's not a rear back guy who's going to beat you with a good old country hardball," Volcanoes manager Steve Decker said. "But he does throw a real hard power slider, which is a very good out pitch for him."
Control has never been an issue for Anderson. He walked just 23 in 100 career innings at Long Beach State.
"I've always been able to control my fastball a lot, and drop that slider into the strike zone usually whenever I need to," said Anderson, who lives in Aliso Viejo, Calif.
Off the field, Anderson hasn't had time to experience Oregon and partake in some of his favorite hobbies, which includes boating, wake boarding and jet skiing. The Volcanoes play 76 games in 79 games, and have had just one off day thus far.
Unlike most players on the team who live with host families, Anderson shares an apartment with teammates Alex Hinshaw, Taylor Wilding, and Mark Minicozzi. The players pooled their money to buy a 1988 Ford Escort for $290 before the season started.
"Obviously, we're not going to take (the car) back with us," Anderson said with a chuckle. "It probably wouldn't make it."
Making it to the major leagues one day is Anderson's ultimate goal. About three percent of players drafted by the Giants reach The Show.
"I don't think that discourages me," Anderson said of the long odds. "I think it gives me a lot more motivation to go out and prove myself. Obviously, the percentages aren't in my favor so it gives me a lot more levels of motivation to go out and move my way up in the system."