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Nittany Lions open 2014 at Gardner Webb on Friday, Feb. 14
Entering his fourth season on the Penn State baseball staff, Brian Anderson primarily coaches the Nittany Lion pitchers and catchers and serves as the recruiting coordinator. His pitching staff’s success last season led the Lions’ to a 10-win improvement from the year before and its first winning season since 2012.
Anderson joined Penn State in August 2013 after playing a key role in engineering the revitalization of the Radford University baseball program over the previous six years as the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator. One of his biggest successes was the recruitment and development of Eddie Butler, who made his Major League debut in 2014 after getting drafted in the first round in 2012.
The Chesapeake, Virginia, native is now looking to send Nittany Lion pitchers to the pros. Jack Anderson (no relation), who was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 23rd round of the 2016 MLB Draft, became the first Lion pitcher to be drafted since 2012 after improving dramatically during his three seasons under Brian’s tutelage. The submarine-style closer posted a 9.20 ERA in 14 games as a freshman before Brian’s arrival, but graduated from Penn State as the school’s all-time leader in saves and appearances. Jack also claimed the school’s single-season saves record and tied for the saves lead in the Big Ten as a senior, and posted a 2.14 ERA after ranking among the nation’s leaders throughout much of the season. He was on multiple watch lists for postseason awards and was named All-Big Ten and ABCA/Rawlings NCAA Division I Mideast All-Region.
Jack was not the only Nittany Lion hurler to see success in 2016, as the staff collectively shaved 1.25 runs off of its ERA from the previous season and recorded three combined shutouts for its most since 2011.
The success under Brian’s guidance came despite starting the season with only one pitcher with previous experience as a collegiate starter in its three-man rotation. However, sophomore Sal Biasi excelled in his conversion from reliever to starter, leading the team in strikeouts, and freshman Justin Hagenman became the first Nittany Lion to win six games in a season since 2011, earning a place on the Big Ten All-Freshman team and the Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America team. Senior Nick Hedge returned to the rotation late in the season and ultimately led the team in ERA at 2.44, more than halving his 2015 total. Set-up man Dakota Forsyth also more than halved his ERA, dropping it to 2.28 in 43 1/3 innings pitched.
Anderson worked with a very youthful staff in 2015, as nearly half of the team’s innings pitched in 2015 were thrown by first-year pitchers. Veteran returners also continued to develop under Anderson’s guidance, as five of the seven lowered their ERA from 2014 to 2015, despite the Lions playing a significantly more difficult schedule that included 10 games against ranked opponents and five opponents that advanced to the NCAA tournament. Jack Anderson went from having an ERA above five in 2014 to leading the team in 2015 with a 2.98 ERA and five saves, also appearing in a team-high 60 percent of the team’s contests.
At Radford, Anderson helped the Highlanders land major contributors to the success of the program. Under his tutelage, 12 recruits earned all-conference honors, 10 recruits ranked in Radford career top 10 statistical categories, and the 2012 senior class posted the most wins in a four-year stretch in program history with 115.
Eddie Butler arrived at Radford as a 35th-round MLB Draft selection in 2009 and left three seasons later as the first player in Big South conference history to be drafted in the first round (46th overall). Butler earned Big South Pitcher of the Year honors in 2012, a first for a Radford pitcher, and made his Major League debut with the Colorado Rockies in 2014.
Along with Butler, Eric Evans and Mark Peterson continued their post-Radford careers to professional baseball. Evans went from the most single-season losses in program history to a 23rd round selection of the Rangers in 2008, and Peterson was a free agent signee of the Royals in 2012.
In addition to pro success, Anderson's pitchers set Radford program records. Butler matched a school wins record in 2011 and set the program's ERA record in 2012. At the back end of games, Abram Williams became the school's all-time career and season saves leader.
Anderson spent the two years prior to arriving at Radford as a volunteer assistant at the University of Virginia. He worked directly with the Cavalier catchers and assisted with the day-to-day development of the hitters. During his time in Charlottesville, the Cavaliers finished 19th in the nation in batting average (.322) while setting school records in hits, RBIs and total bases.
Before moving to Virginia, Anderson served as an assistant coach at Marist College. He helped lead the Red Foxes to the 2005 MAAC title and a berth in the 2005 Baton Rouge Regional.
Anderson got his coaching start at his alma mater, spending one year as a volunteer assistant at George Mason, coaching catchers and assisting in hitting instruction. He also was the first base coach for the Patriots.
A standout catcher at Mason, Anderson was a four-year starter that ranks in the Patriots' all-time top 10 in eight statistical categories. Following graduation, Anderson inked a free-agent deal with the Expos organization, and played the 2002 season with the Vermont Expos of the New York-Penn League.
Anderson earned a degree in communications from George Mason in 2002. He is married to the former Colleen Boles.