Cutters struggle against Anderson

STATE COLLEGE – State College catcher Brian O’Keefe and pitcher Will Anderson adjusted their game plan just a couple innings in to Sunday’s series finale against Williamsport.

They noticed a pattern of Crosscutters hitters not laying off the off-speed offerings Anderson was throwing up to the plate. So he stuck with it. Early in the count, late in the count, it didn’t much matter.

The right-hander threw seven shutout innings Sunday night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, setting a State College Spikes record with 10 strikeouts in a 5-0 win over the Crosscutters.

In 14 previous games since being drafted in the 26th round of the 2013 draft, Anderson had never struck out more than five. He said following last night’s game he had never struck out more than eight in a game in his life.

“Those guys didn’t want to make an adjustment, so I kept throwing off-speed,” Anderson said. “I probably ended up throwing more off-speed than fastballs.”

Anderson is by no means a power pitcher who would be expected to strike out 10 in a game. His fastball never hit 90 mph last night, and he lived throwing his slider and change-up just a tick or two above and below 80 mph.

But it was well-placed, and it came with a ton of deception in his delivery. The right-hander worked from the extreme first-base side of the rubber, but stepped drastically toward third base and threw across his body to the plate.

On top of it, there was a hesitation in his delivery just before planting his front foot, and all three pitches came out of his hand with the same arm action. It was all recipe for a night in which William-sport had just three hits and four baserunners.

“I think (Anderson) just did a smart thing of watching the game (Saturday) where we were really aggressive early in the count on fastballs,” Crosscutters manager Shawn Williams said. “He was watching and did the complete opposite of what we hit (Saturday). It’s one of those days. It happens. Over the course of a season, you’ll have a couple of these.”

Anderson retired 12 of the first 13 hitters he faced, with the only batter reaching base on a dropped third strike. He didn’t give up a hit until Matt Shortall singled up the middle to lead off the fifth inning.

Anderson worked out of a first-and-third jam in that inning by getting Deivi Grullon to ground into a double play. Shortall was the only Williamsport baserunner to reach second base last night, doing so in the second and fifth innings.

Anderson combined with Jacob Booden and Josh Lucas to retire 13 of the final 14 hitters, surrendering just a lone single to Rhys Hoskins over the final four innings.

“(Saturday) I told him I needed seven innings out of him, and he laughed and said yeah, I got ya. He did it, though,” Spikes manager Oliver Marmol said. “He did a tremendous job mixing pitches. He threw a lot of off-speed pitches. He felt comfortable with it and they had a tough time making adjustments.”

State College picked up more than enough run support for Anderson in the first inning scoring three runs on four hits. Three of the hits came in two-strike counts as Williamsport starter Alejandro Arteaga struggled to find a put-away pitch.

Rowan Wick hit a two-run single in the first inning. Wick, who already has 10 home runs this year, is hitting .480 in eight games against Williamsport this year with five home runs and 12 RBIs.

Arteaga had maybe his best start of the young season despite giving up five runs. He threw first-pitch strikes to 22 of 31 batters, threw 63 of his 87 pitches (72 percent) for strikes, and struck out five over seven innings.

“He’s got a put-away pitch, it’s his slider and it’s a good pitch,” Williams said. “It’s a matter of getting those two-strike sliders down more. He’s been throwing really well. He’s really aggressive with his fastball. Overall, I think tonight was his best start.”