Cal faces the end of their season yet again Thursday, against a Virginia squad that is still the #1 team in the country, despite South Carolina absolutely beating the crap out of them. With the dire straits, the Bears will have to pitch Dixon Anderson, the enigmatic right hander who has had no consistency all year.
When Anderson is pitching well, he makes you believe that you’re watching the next big thing and that’s he a true ace. We saw this Dixon at the beginning of the year. Anderson can dial it up to 96 mph, while sitting in the low 90s. When he’s on, his ball is sinking and he’s inducing plenty of ground balls and strikeouts. When he’s off, a little leaguer could hit him, runs are leaking all over the place, and he’s getting roped. When his fastball is elevated, it flattens out and hitters can just pound it. The same goes for breaking stuff; if he leaves it up then things aren’t going well for him.
In a way, Anderson embodies everything this Cal team is. Both are very talented but were strewn aside and nearly gotten rid of. Both had struggles in Pac-10 play and were doubted by many as a legitimate threat. The Bears have made good on their promise; now it’s Anderson’s turn to do so on the biggest stage. If he does, then this comeback story gets yet another chapter written. We’ll see if he can make on his potential and lead Cal into a showdown with South Carolina.
As for what the right hander needs to do, it’s simple. He needs to pound the lower half of the zone and not give away base runners. Yes, that means he can’t have the loss of focus and walk people as he’s done at times all year. As long he does those two things, he should put Cal in a situation where they can win the game. That’s all the team needs; a quality 5-6 innings that doesn’t put pressure on the offense to carry the whole load.
Anderson has a chance kid’s dream of. He has the chance to take Cal past Virginia and get them a step closer to a national championship. Cal fans can only hope they get the good Anderson version, instead of the bad one. Here’s to hoping! Go Bears!