The 20-year-old right-hander posted a career-high 12 strikeouts in seven scoreless innings, allowing one hit without any walks to pick up the win as the visiting Keys topped the Wilmington Blue Rocks, 3-1. At one point, he retired 19 batters in a row.
"It was one of those nights where I felt like I had good command of all three pitches [fastball, slider, change]," Erbe said. "I had a mind-set of getting ahead early in the count and making them put the ball in play.
"Pitching is a real learning process," he added. "The biggest thing is learning how to read guys' swings."
This season, Erbe (6-5, 4.23 ERA) has picked up a few tips against Wilmington. He has given up just two runs in 21 innings over three starts against the Blue Rocks in 2008. The last time he faced them June 11, he fanned nine in seven frames.
"They have a lot of good contact hitters and they like to swing early," Erbe added. "They also have some good baserunners, so you make your job much easier if you can keep them off base."
On Tuesday, he surrendered a first-inning single to Chris McConnell, the second Blue Rocks batter of the game, and then retired everyone he faced until he hit Kurt Mertins with two down in the seventh.
"I've had my highs and lows this season, and the biggest thing I'll take away from a game like this is confidence," Erbe said. "When you have confidence, you have trust in yourself and your stuff."
He got offensive support from Brandon Tripp, who went 2-for-4 with a homer and two RBIs for the Keys (1-0).
Jason Godin (2-7) allowed two runs on three hits, fanning two and walking two over 3 1/3 innings to take the loss for the Blue Rocks (0-1).