It was only fitting that on a night devoted to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, a guy named Will would come out a winner.
Cardinals prospect Will Anderson set a franchise record with 10 strikeouts over seven innings in his longest start as a pro, pitching Short-Season State College to a 5-0 blanking of Williamsport at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
In one of the Minor Leagues' most colorful uniform matchups of the season, the Spikes donned Fresh Prince-inspired jerseys while the Crosscutters sported Christmas sweater-themed threads, a holdover from a planned promotion for their rained out June 25 game. No matter the look, Anderson was comfortable from the start, allowing only three hits.
"The first inning went well," he said. "I think I threw all three pitches in the first inning and saw they were breaking good, good movement on my fastball, good movement on my changeup. You get that feeling like, 'All right, this is going to be a good day.'"
Before a crowd of 4,829 that included actor Alfonso Ribeiro, who played Carlton on the evening's honored show, Anderson (1-1) carried a no-hitter into the fifth. The 23-year-old right-hander allowed just one baserunner over that span when Matt Shortall reached on a dropped third strike in the second.
"My slider was on all night," Anderson said. "I've never thrown that many off-speed pitches in a game before. I probably threw more off-speed pitches than I did fastballs. The day before, I was scouting [Williamsport], doing the scorebook, and noticed that they were really aggressive hitters. I came in today and was just like, 'I've got to keep you guys off-balance.'"
After retiring the Crosscutters in order in the first, Anderson (1-1) received some early run support, thanks to Adam Ehrlich's RBI single and Rowan Wick's two-run base hit. The Spikes added a run in the sixth on Collin Radack's double before Danny Diekroeger delivered an RBI single in the seventh.
Anderson, who did not issue a walk Sunday, was making his third start for the Spikes and fourth appearance this season after earning a save in a May 3 outing with Class A Advanced Palm Beach.
"That was really fun," he said of facing Florida State League competition. "That was a really good experience for me. I learned a lot, especially playing up. My catcher [Casey Rasmus] was really good, he called a great game. He made that process a lot easier, playing at that level."
Managers Shawn Williams (l) and Oliver Marmol model the jerseys worn in Sunday's uniform battle. (State College Spikes)
After allowing two hits in the fifth against the Crosscutters, Anderson retired seven of his final eight batters. His approach to build off of Sunday's momentum for his next start is a simple one.
"Don't change anything," he said with a laugh. "I mean, obviously, that's not going to happen every time, but just think about the highlights of this and work off those. I threw all my pitches for strikes, and that's the key to pitching right there. I'm always going to be trying to do that every game I go on from here."
Williamsport's Alejandro Arteaga (1-2) matched Anderson's seven innings but was charged with five runs on nine hits and a walk while striking out five.