ANDERSON — The Anderson baseball team was whole for the first time Wednesday, and it produced its most complete game of the season.
Jacob Morris tossed six shutout innings, Keaton Davis went 2-for-3 with a two-run homer in his season debut and Brandon Branch made a pair of SportsCenter-worthy catches in center field as the Indians scored a 6-0 victory against Richmond at Memorial Field.
The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Tribe and forged a split in the two-game series with their North Central Conference rivals. The Red Devils won Tuesday 5-3 at McBride Stadium.
“After last night, coming out flat and not playing real well, we had to have this one to get ourselves in position to win our side of the conference,” Anderson coach Adrian Heim said.
The victory was a total team effort, starting with a gutsy performance from Morris on the mound.
The senior has been battling a sore arm early in the season and clearly did not have his best stuff. But he cobbled together an efficient 72-pitch start and consistently wriggled out of jams.
Branch made a running catch in the right-center field gap to rob extra bases from James Hall and keep at least one run off the board in the top of the fifth, and he closed quickly on another ball hit to shallow left-center for the second out of the sixth.
Morris induced a grounder back to the mound to strand runners at first and second in the first inning, and a popup to catcher Cam McGlothin left runners at the corners in the second.
The third and fourth innings were relatively quiet, with the Red Devils getting just two runners on base via an error and a walk. Freshman Tristan Brooks worked a scoreless seventh inning after surrendering a walk and a single to the first two batters.
Morris scattered five hits over his six innings with two strikeouts and two walks.
“He just battled,” Heim said. “He’s coming back and trying to get healthy. He’s a gamer just like (ace Cam) Pratt. When you play as many (travel ball) games as they do over the summer, it’s huge. They don’t fear anything.”
Davis also showed no fear in his 2018 debut.
The senior started as the designated hitter and capped a four-run third inning with a towering two-run homer over the left-field fence. He also singled to right field in his first at-bat of the season in the second inning.
“A huge debut for Keaton Davis,” Heim said. “He hit all three balls hard, and he gives us another big bat in the lineup.”
Anderson (6-4, 3-1 NCC) got on the board with one out in the inning when Branch scored on a groundout by Cam McGlothlin. Morris stole home on a delayed double steal to make it 2-0 after Pratt drew a two-out walk.
The Indians added an unearned run in the fourth when Mike Stewart reached on a lead-off single and knocked the ball out of the catcher’s hand after a squibber from Branch in front of the plate.
Mercklin DeWitt scored the final run in the sixth when Branch beat out an infield single with two outs.
DeWitt also was 2-for-3 for the Tribe, who finished with six hits.
Anderson hosts Connersville on Friday.
“We played our game, and when all the little things happen, it builds camaraderie,” Heim said. “There was not one guy in the lineup who didn’t have something in this win.” – Rob Hunt