TRENTON – On a day when Baseball America updated their Top-100 prospect list, two hurlers featured in the heralded countdown matched-up in one of the premiere pitching match-ups thus far in the Eastern League. The Yankees top-pitching prospect Justus Sheffield (85) was out-dueled by the Nationals top-pitching prospect Erick Fedde (48) in a 6-2 Senators victory at ARM & HAMMER Park on Thursday night.
Sheffield looked to rebound from a subpar outing in Erie last Thursday in which he threw 74 pitches and allowed four runs, two earned, in just 2 1/3 innings of work. After sitting down the first six batters in order, Harrisburg pieced together three straight two-out singles in the third inning to set-up a well-struck two-run triple by first baseman Neftali Soto to put the Senators ahead 3-0.
Meanwhile, Fedde was able to keep the Trenton offense at bay for much of the night after yielding six earned runs on eight hits in just 3 2/3 innings against them on May 1 in what amounted to his worst start of the season. The 2014 first-round draft selection fired three shutout frames before Trenton was finally able to scratch a rally together.
Shortstop Gleyber Torres doubled to leadoff the bottom half of the fourth inning and came around to score on a single by third baseman Miguel Andujar. Right fielder Billy McKinney would back on a second run on an RBI force out to cut the Senators lead in half at 4-2.
After tossing 53 pitches to get through three innings, Sheffield settled in and gave the Thunder 5 2/3 innings before exiting at the 100-pitch mark in favor of Matt Wotherspoon with two outs and a runner on first base in the sixth inning.
‘I thought Sheffield pitched better than his last outing, for sure,” said Manager Bobby Mitchell. “I think he made some progress tonight, pitching wise.”
Fedde shifted back into cruise control and retired the last seven Thunder batters he faced. The right-hander fanned seven and allowed just five hits and two earned runs over seven strong innings. His outing marked the fourth time in seven starts that he has gone at least seven innings.
Trenton allowed a glaring opportunity to go the wayside in the eighth inning. After Harrisburg removed Fedde in favor of Ryan Brinley, a single by second baseman Thairo Estrada and a walk drawn by Torres put the tying runs on base for Trenton for the heart of the lineup. First Baseman Mike Ford and Andujar both struck-out to end the threat.
“I’m a firm believer in two out base hits and RBI’s win ball games, and to their credit it they did that,” said Mitchell.
After 2.1 innings of scoreless relief by Wotherspoon, southpaw Caleb Frare was touched up for two runs in the top of the ninth innings to give Harrisburg a 6-2 lead and ultimately a series opening victory.