Set to leave for the All-Star Futures Game in the morning, Frederick Keys first baseman Christian Walker is headed for New York City on a victorious note.
At bat in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded and one out in scoreless game, Walker fought off an 0-2 pitch and sent a fly ball into right field. Carolina Mudcats right fielder Jordan Smith caught the ball near the right field line and fired home, Jerome Pena tagged up at third base and dove headfirst into home plate safely ahead of Smith's throw, which got past catcher Tony Wolters.
Walker's walk-off sacrifice fly gave the Keys a 1-0 victory over Carolina Friday night in the first of a four-game series at Harry Grove Stadium.
Friday's dramatic ending came after eight and a half innings of dominant pitching and good defense.
Making his seventh spot start of the season, Keys left-hander Trent Howard produced his strongest outing of the season, throwing five shutout innings, allowing just one hit and striking out five. Miguel Chalas relieved him to start the sixth and was equally effective, throwing three scoreless innings, allowing three hits and a walk and stranded a runner at second in the seventh.
Gene Escat (4-6) pitched a scoreless ninth, picking up the win, to finish off the victory.
Carolina starter Cody Anderson dealt seven scoreless innings allowing just three hits on two walks and four strikeouts. Owen Dew pitched a scoreless eighth before the Keys' finally broke through in the game's final inning.
Dew (2-5) allowed three hits, two walks and the game's lone run and suffered the loss. The teams combined for five double plays, the Mudcats turning three and the Keys turning two, including a fly-ball double play in the sixth that erased a leadoff double.
But Dew couldn't induce a double play when his team needed one most. The first four batters reached in the ninth, Johnny Ruettiger leading off with a walk and then being caught stealing at second. Pena then doubled to right-center, Nicky Delmonico was intentionally walked and Ohlman singled sharply to left to load the bases.
Then Walker, who went 1-for-3, walked the Keys off with his sacrifice fly. Frederick recorded six hits and designated hitter Tucker Nathan had two. He was the only player in the game to rack up more than one hit. Keys pitchers held Carolina to four hits and a walk. Frederick's shutout win was its first of the season.
The Sirius XM All-Star Futures Game is being held Sunday at 2 p.m. and fans can watch Walker and left-handed pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez, the former Key recently promoted to Double-A Bowie, on ESPN2 and MLB.com.
The Keys resume their series with Carolina tomorrow at 6 p.m. Right-handed knuckleballer Zach Clark will make his Frederick debut as the Keys' starter against left-hander Shawn Morimando. For tickets, purchase online at FrederickKeys.com, by phone at 301-815-9939 or at the box office at Harry Grove Stadium.