A big crowd showed up expecting to see a new look for the State College Spikes and hoping to see a record.
It wasn’t the record they might have been expecting, but it still left State College fans happy.
Spikes starter Will Anderson registered a franchise- and Medlar Field at Lubrano Park-record 10 strikeouts, helping the team to a 5-0 victory over the Williamsport Crosscutters on Sunday evening.
“It was a lot of fun today,” Anderson said. “I just went out there, tried to throw strikes and I ended up throwing a lot of strikes.”
Anderson was masterful over seven innings, giving up just three hits with no walks and two wild pitches.
With 4,829 watching on “Fresh Prince Night,” it was a big night for the Spikes. Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Carlton on the TV sitcom “Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” was on hand as the team wore colorful jerseys inspired by the show. The Crosscutters also wore special “ugly Christmas sweater” jerseys to add to the festivities.
In his professional debut, Darren Seferina was 2 for 4 with a double, while Danny Diekroeger was 3 for 4 and Rowan Wick was 2 for 3 with a two-run single and a double.
Of Anderson’s 93 pitches, 65 were for strikes and only six times did he not register a first-pitch strike.
The strikeout total surprised him. He figured his career high in college or high school was eight before Sunday.
He was only registering his fastball in the upper 80s on the radar gun, but he was hitting his spots with offspeed pitches, including a spot-on slider.
“He threw a very nice game for us,” manager Oliver Marmol said. “(He) did a tremendous job mixing pitches, threw a lot of off-speed pitches, felt comfortable with it. (He) had them off balance the whole game.”
It helped that Anderson had charted the pitches and Crosscutter hitters on Saturday night when the teams met in Williamsport. He and the coaches noticed the batters were aggressive with fastballs early in the count.
Anderson figured he threw more offspeed pitches than fastballs, and knew pretty early he could get the hitters to chase bad pitches.
“When you see they’re making bad swings on balls in the dirt, I’m not going to change anything,” said the St. Louis Cardinals’ 26th-round draft pick in 2013 out of Cal State-Monterey Bay. “Get ahead, (I will) throw that pitch like slider over the count, and once I get two strikes — bury it. They kept swinging and missing.”
It also helped Anderson — and the team — relax when they got an early lead.
The Spikes struck quickly in the bottom of the first inning, with the first three batters ripping singles. The third, by Adam Ehrlich, brought in a run, and one out later Wick singled to right to plate two more.
“Couple of the last games we’ve been down early on at home and you always have to come from behind,” Marmol said. “To jump on them early and keep going from there, makes a day off (Monday) a little bit more fun.”
The fourth run crossed in the sixth when Alex De Leon doubled and one out later Collin Radack drove the ball off third baseman Jan Hernandez’s glove into foul territory for an RBI double.
In the bottom of the seventh, Seferina roped a one-out double to the right-field corner, stole third and scored on Diekroeger’s single back up the middle to make it 5-0.
Wick had cracked his 10th home run of the season on Saturday to tie the Spikes’ single-season franchise record just 15 games into the season, and many in the stadium were hoping to see that record broken.
They almost got their wish in the bottom of the eighth, when Wick crushed a ball to left-center, a few feet to the left of the 410-foot sign. The ball bounced off the wall for a double, and he was later thrown out at the plate on an infield grounder.
“It didn’t sound the way it normally does off the bat,” Marmol said of Wick’s shot. “I knew it was going to drop, but I didn’t think it was going to — the wall was going to be in between us.”