When he stepped to the plate in the bottom of the second inning, Sammie Starr was just looking to get his pitcher some run support.
He accomplished that with one powerful swing.
Starr slugged a grand slam on the first pitch he saw from Carolina starter Jacob Lee, putting the Frederick Keys ahead 4-2 in the bottom of the second and sparking his club to a 10-5 victory over Carolina Sunday afternoon.
"We were down at that point in the game and (Keys starter) Tim (Berry) was pitching pretty good and I just wanted to get him some runs," said Starr, the Keys' shortstop and leadoff hitter. "I was just looking for a pitch I could handle to get the runner in from third. That was my main priority. Fortunately for us, the ball carried out."
Starr's bases-loaded blast, his second home run of the year and the second grand slam of his career, cleared the left-field fence and left fielder Zack MacPhee's outstretched glove. Three walks loaded the bases for Starr, whose 17 RBIs on the season lead Frederick.
Two batters after Starr's slam, Travis Adair took Lee deep for a solo home run, his first of the season, and Zane Chavez followed him with a double down the right field, prompting Carolina manager David Wallace to make a pitching change. Lee (0-2) lasted just 1.2 innings, allowing six runs on five hits. He walked three struck, struck out two and took the loss.
Michael Goodnight entered the game in relief and allowed an RBI single to catcher Allan de San Miguel, putting Frederick ahead 6-2. The Keys sent 10 batters to the plate in the second inning, Brenden Webb walking in both his plate appearances.
Sunday's victory in front of 4,892 at Harry Grove Series gave the Keys their fourth series victory of the season and improved their record to 12-11. Carolina fell to 10-13.
The Mudcats posted a pair of runs in the top of the second inning on Charlie Valerio's two-run homer off Keys starter Tim Berry. Berry (2-1) would settle in after Valerio's home run and struck out eight batters over six innings, allowing seven hits, four runs, three earned, and walking none. He received the win and was certainly appreciative of the support his offense gave him.
"When you have big inning like that, you want to go out there and get the boys back in quickly." said Berry. "At the beginning of the game it was a little tough, but at the midpoint I found a little groove. (Catcher Allan) de San Miguel was doing a great job back there working with me. Overall we got the W and it's a good one."
Between Berry and Matt Bischoff, who relieved Frederick's starting pitcher in the seventh and pitched the final three innings, allowing a run on two hits and a walk and earned his first save of the season, the Keys fanned fourteen Mudcats on cool, rainy Sunday afternoon. Bischoff's sixth and final strikeout -- he got Justin Toole swinging -- was the final out of the game.
Berry struck out at least one batter in each of his six innings and Bischoff started his outing by striking out four straight batters.
"Bisch did a great job and he has great stuff and did a great job closing out the game," said Berry. "They were aggressive swinging the bats and it just happens sometimes, you get those Ks. It's fun when that happens."
The Keys added to their early lead with a pair of runs in the third, Sammie Starr picking up his fifth RBI of the game on a line drive single that went off second baseman Yhoxian Medina's glove and Chavez adding an RBI single three batters later.
Carolina cut its deficit to 8-3 in the top of the fourth on Jordan Smith's solo homer, but the Keys added another run in the bottom half of the fifth. Chavez picked up his second RBI of the game on a bases-loaded groundout to first, putting the Keys ahead 9-3.
Carolina and the Keys scored traded runs in the sixth, the Mudcats' coming on Francisco Lindor's double, plating Tyler Naquin, and Frederick's run courtesy of Glynn Davis' RBI bases-loaded infield single. Lindor also drove in Naquin in the eighth, setting the final score.
The Keys racked up 13 hits and only third baseman Jason Esposito went hitless. Starr finished 2-for-5 with 5 RBIs, Chavez went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a walk and three others -- Steve Bumbry, Adair and Davis -- had two hit games. Frederick also added eight walks to its Carolina League leading total.
Lindor, Smith and Naquin each had two hits for the Mudcats, who tallied nine hits for the game.
The Keys have won two in a row after having dropped three straight and four of six. Their 15 runs in those two victories are three more than the 12 they scored during that previous six-game stretch.
Starr said he hoped his team was getting back to the consistent play that helped the Keys to a 7-4 start, as did Berry.
"We're feeling good chemistry in the clubhouse," said Berry, "and we'll go out there tomorrow and hopefully get another one."
The Keys open a four-game series against Myrtle Beach tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Harry Grove Stadium. Right-hander Zach Petersime is slated to start for Frederick against Pelicans righty Alec Asher. For tickets to tomorrow's game, visit FrederickKeys.com, call 301-815-9939 or purchase at the Harry Grove Stadium box office.