Anderson finds niche in midweeks

Gophers pitcher Toby Anderson throws the ball against Kansas State at Siebert Field on April 29.

Daily File Photo, Alex Tuthill-Preus

Gophers pitcher Toby Anderson throws the ball against Kansas State at Siebert Field on April 29.

Ben Gotz

Toby Anderson was nearly flawless on the mound last Tuesday.
 
His head coach called it a big step for the sophomore righty, whose new approach and mindset going into games has led to two rock-solid starts in just as many midweek games.
 
So now, Anderson simply needs to keep up his swagger.
 
“[I’ve been] having more confidence in myself,” he said. “My last two outings have been really good, so I think that mentality has really benefited my pitching.”
 
Anderson had 12 appearances for the Gophers during his freshman year, starting only once. Head coach John Anderson said the Idaho native would have seen more time on the mound if a few midweek games hadn’t been canceled.
 
Toby Anderson returned his sophomore year and made a midweek start in March against Richmond before being promoted to the weekend rotation after junior Dalton Sawyer injured his arm.
 
He was removed from the rotation after three starts, giving up 10 walks and 11 hits in just 13 and 1/3 innings. But a new approach led to strong showings the following two times he toed the rubber.
 
Instead of focusing on hitting spots with his pitches, Toby Anderson focused on working his pitches from the middle of the plate down.
 
“That’s really helped me develop to just get it over the plate,” Toby Anderson said. “[I’m letting] the hitters hit into outs and [not] necessarily try to be perfect with it.”
 
His approach worked when he got the ball for a midweek start against South Dakota State. He allowed just one run in five innings.
 
During his next start, Toby Anderson performed even better. He carried a perfect game into the sixth inning before hitting a batter, and then allowing his first hit in the seventh inning. Toby Anderson estimated that he threw 85 percent fastballs during the game, and pitches’ sinks led to nine ground ball outs.
 
“He was going right after guys all day,” redshirt senior catcher Matt Halloran said. “They just were pounding [his fastball] right into the ground.” 
 
John Anderson said it takes time for young pitchers like Toby Anderson to begin to trust their technique is good enough to get outs.
 
But if Toby Anderson wants to take full advantage of the sink on his fastball, he’ll need to strengthen that trust.
 
“He’s a guy that has to work middle-down to allow his sink, and you [can see] all the ground balls he gets when he’s got sink, and he’s able to locate down in the zone,” John Anderson said. “That’s what he can do.”
 
John Anderson said it’s hard to build up a young pitcher’s confidence until they take the mound enough times to feel comfortable.
 
But after back-to-back solid outings, Toby Anderson’s confidence seems to be on the rise.
 
“I always just try and stay positive,” Toby Anderson said. “I always try to think to myself in my head, ‘I’m going to go out there, I’m going to pound strikes, and they’re just going to hit ground ball after ground ball.’”