It was a rare feat for Nolan Anderson this past Sunday. An extremely rare feat.
Typically a shortstop, Anderson was called on to pitch in extra innings. And he answered the bell, retiring all five batters faced.
Then it was the bottom of the eighth and he was up to bat. Could he pull it off on offence as well? With one man on base, he had an opportunity to cash in the winning run. A loss would drop Western to 4–4 on the season, and after beating York by 17 runs earlier in the day, being tied 5-5 in game two of the doubleheader was not a positive sign.
Low and behold, Anderson smashed a home run to end the game, crediting him with the win and the winning RBI with a single swing of the bat.
"Getting to close the game and hit a walk-off home run was definitely one of the cooler things I’ve done in my baseball career," he said. "I've hit one walk-off home run before but that was to mercy a team, so I don’t really count that one.”
Anderson didn't just shine in that final game on Sunday. The Mustangs played four games over the course of the weekend and the London native went 5-for-14 with five RBI. That's why The Gazette has named him our Purple Pipe Athlete of the Week. For his efforts he was also named the OUA Male Athlete of the Week.
Being the hero was a cool experience for Anderson but for him this season is all about the team and winning an Ontario University Athletics title.
"It's been three or four years since Western has won one after we won four or five in a row," Anderson said. "We’ve been in the OUA’s the last two years and just kind of choked. I'm really hoping this year we can turn it around and take the OUA by storm.”
In Anderson's eyes, the key for the Mustangs will be their pitching.
"We have a deep pitching staff, especially compared to a lot of the other teams who will just have one or two pitchers," he explained. "Our best pitcher from last year, he has mono and will be back for this upcoming weekend. So hopefully when he comes back we will be at full force and nobody can stop us.”
The teams to beat for Western are the Brock Badgers and Guelph Gryphons, according to Anderson. On the weekend they beat Brock 10–0, but then lost the second half of the double header 11–2. And although they lost both games so far to Guelph this season, those were the first two games of the year, and Western has gone 5–1 since then.
"The Guelph games were our first games so I don’t really think that was a good indicator of how things will go," Anderson said.
There are still plenty of games left in the regular season and Western currently sits in fourth out of 10 teams. If Western can stay healthy and work on their defensive consistency, they will be in good shape heading into the playoffs.
The other key is their pitching staff, which will need to stay healthy to make an impact.