FREDERICK, Md. -- A late two-run homer brought Frederick within striking distance, but two big swings by Winston-Salem's Courtney Hawkins proved too much for the Keys to overcome.
The Keys dropped their second straight game to the Dash Wednesday night, falling 5-2, thanks to Hawkins' pair of two-run home runs early in the game.
The third batter of the contest, Hawkins slugged a long two-run homer to dead center field off Keys starter Eduardo Rodriguez to start the scoring and struck again in the top of the third, sending a two-out, 3-2 pitch well over the wall in left-center for his second two-run blast of the game.
The pair of long homers were the first Carolina League round-tippers for Hawkins and just the second and third hits of the season for the 19-year-old center fielder, who's rated as the White Sox top prospect by Baseball America.
Sammie Starr hit his first home run of the year, a two-run shot, in the seventh inning, sending a pitch from reliever Justin Erben down the left-field line and over the wall. However, for the rest of the night, the Keys (3-2) were unable to offensively match the Dash (2-3), who registered 11 hits to Frederick's five.
"Early, we just didn't swing the bats well. We didn't swing at good pitches," said Keys manager Ryan Minor. (Dash starter Justin Collop), for the most part, kept us off-balance. ... It's tough when you get behind on a couple home runs early in the game and you're down by four and then you have to play catch-up. You want to grind out at-bats and generate runs, but it's tough to do that when you fall behind and it kind of takes away your options."
Collop (1-0) earned his first victory and held the Keys to three hits and no runs while working around four walks, thanks in part to four strikeouts, in five innings. In the bottom of the fourth, he walked the bases loaded with one out, but struck out third baseman Jason Esposito and Starr flew out to center, ending Frederick's best scoring chance early in the game.
"He was pretty aggressive with his fastball and he was beating us (with it) all game," said Starr. "He got off to a good start and we, unfortunately, weren't able to catch up to him."
Keys starter Eduardo Rodriguez (0-1), who celebrated his 20th birthday on Sunday, went six innings, allowed nine hits, five runs, four earned, struck out four and took the loss in his Carolina League debut. Other than Hawkins' homers, the highly-touted left-hander from Venezuela kept Winston-Salem from putting together much of anything on offense and twice induced inning-ending double plays in front of a crowd of 2,165.
Both of Hawkins' home runs were preceded by base hits by second baseman Joey DeMichele, who went 3-for-4 with a double and two runs. Minor said Rodriguez threw a few poor pitches to Hawkins which each landed 400-some feet away, but thought the key for Rodriguez would have been retiring the left-handed hitting DeMichele.
"If we can just keep that guy off-base ahead of him and limit the damage, it keeps us in the game," said Minor. "When you're down four or five runs and you haven't been able to put much offense together, there's not much you can do."
Grant Buckner's RBI groundout in the fourth put the Dash ahead 5-0. No Key recorded multiple hits Wednesday. Jerome Pena, Mikey Planeta, Chavez -- who recorded his first minor league hit -- and Jason Esposito each singled. Frederick center fielder Glynn Davis' four-game hit-streak came to an end.
Trent Howard threw three scoreless innings and struck out four in relief for Frederick and Max Peterson earned a two-inning save, his first of the year, for the Dash. Hawkins finished 2-for-4 with two strikeouts and four RBIs.
The Keys finish their three-game series with Winston-Salem Thursday night at 7 p.m. at Harry Grove Stadium. Right-hander Devin Jones is slated to start for the Keys against Winston-Salem righty Bryan Blough.
"I think we need to come out the gates fast and come out with a little more intensity and come up with that first score of the game," said Starr, who finished 1-for-4 with his homer and 2 RBIs. "And then hopefully tack a few more runs on and win tomorrow."