Shaun Anderson found himself in a pitchers' duel on Saturday, and he did not back down. In fact, he savored every moment of it.
The eighth-ranked Giants prospect fired six scoreless innings, allowing four hits and a pair of walks while striking out six, but Double-A Richmond settled for a split of Saturday's doubleheader after dropping a 3-2 decision to Harrisburg at The Diamond. Jefry Rodriguez, the Nationals' No. 16 prospect, yielded one hit and one walk while fanning six over five shutout frames.
Gameday box score
"It's always fun to be in a game like that," Anderson said. "You're in a duel, which is kind of awesome, and it definitely helped me stay locked in. You know, if you're up 10-0 and you know you're going to win, it's hard to stay locked in. But in a game like this, every single baserunner matters and I'm doing everything I can to make sure no one gets on base."
The 23-year-old lasted six innings for the seventh time this season, his first in the Eastern League, and he has not issued more than two free passes in any of his 12 starts. His only other scoreless outing came on April 17 against Bowie when he yielded four hits and a walk with four punchouts in a 1-0 victory.
"The thing about being at this level is that it's still baseball. That's not going to change," Anderson said. "I just need to execute my pitches, that's the bottom line. If I do that at any level, I'm going to be successful."
Video: Richmond's Anderson picks up sixth K
On Saturday, the right-hander gave up a leadoff single to Hunter Jones, then retired 12 of the next 13 hitters, setting down the side in order in the second and fourth. He escaped a jam in the fifth by striking out Osvaldo Abreu and retiring Rodriguez on a liner to shortstop with runners at the corners.
"I felt pretty good out there. I was looking at these guys the past two days and I came in with a plan to attack with my fastball," Anderson said. "I was talking with [catcher] Aramis Garcia and he said just pound them with the fastball, and that was working for me. I knew they were a contact team and they don't strike out much. So I threw my fastball and it felt really good -- it was down, I was locating it really well and I just threw it until I needed to throw my off-speed stuff.
"I knew [facing Abreu] the pitcher was on deck and after I fell behind, 2-0, I just refocused and got the count back to 2-2. Then I was like, 'OK, I can get him out' and I went with my best pitch and executed it. Then [Rodriguez] made good contact, but luckily, Howie was there to catch it. But my heart dropped for a second."
After getting two quick outs to start the sixth, Anderson issued a four-pitch walk to Dan Gamache and gave up a single to Taylor Gushue before Nats No. 26 prospect Drew Ward reached on an error by second baseman Miguel Gomez to load the bases. But the University of Florida product escaped by getting Adam Brett Walker to swing over a 2-2 slider.
"I was amped to come out in the sixth and put up another zero, but I knew it was the top of the lineup that I had to face, so I needed to bear down," he said. "I fell behind, 3-0, to the first hitter [Jones] but then came back and struck him out and that gave me some fire. But then they got some hits and loaded the bases, but I knew it was still a 0-0 game and I wasn't going to let them score."
The game remained scoreless until the eighth, when Austin Davidson, Gushue and Walker knocked in runs for Harrisburg.
Richmond did not go quietly as Luigi Rodriguez and Giants No. 22 prospect Ryan Howard delivered RBI singles in the bottom of the inning. With two outs, Jerry Sands stepped to the dish as the potential winning run and hammered a ball to deep center that was caught by Jones on the warning track.
"I came back to the dugout after some shoulder work and I was proud to see we battled back, made it close. And when Jerry slapped the ball, I thought it was gone," Anderson said. "He put a good swing on it, but the ballpark just killed it in the air. It happens. That's just how baseball works."