For the second time in as many nights, the Frederick Keys found themselves trailing Carolina early in the ball game. And though result was closer than Saturday's 11-1 loss, the Keys still finished on the short side of the final score.
Frederick fell 5-3 to the Mudcats Sunday night at Harry Grove Stadium, three late runs not enough to overcome Carolina, which shutout the Keys for the first five innings. The loss moves the Keys to 9-14 in the second half and 43-49 overall while Carolina improved to 11-11 and 33-59.
Carolina starter Joseph Colon tossed six innings, allowing a run on three hits and two walks while striking out three. He outdueled Keys starter Julio Rodriguez, who allowed four runs on five hits, walked one and struck out four. Colon (1-2) earned the win and Rodriguez (0-2) took the loss.
Rob Nixon finished the game for Carolina, pitched 1.1 perfect innings, struck out two and picked up his first save of the season.
Frederick trailed 4-0 entering the bottom of the sixth but cut its deficit in half by the eighth. After Jerome Pena walked and Nicky Delmonico singled to right, moving Pena to third, Michael Ohlman drove in the Keys' first run on a groundout. In the seventh, Brenden Webb drew a walk and Sammie Starr doubled him home from first base, bringing Frederick to a 4-2 deficit.
Then in the eighth, Ohlman brought the Keys a run closer, belting a two-out solo homer off reliever Louis Head. Carolina, however, responded with a run of their own in the top of the ninth, Tyler Naquin hitting a one-out triple and scoring on Jordan Smith's single through a drawn-in infield, putting the Mudcats ahead 5-3.
Carolina took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, but Rodriguez prevented a potential big inning by leaving the bases loaded. Rodriguez allowed a leadoff single to Naquin, who stole second base and was driven in by Bo Greenwell with one out. Despite a pair of errors that would follow over the next three batters, Rodriguez escaped the jam by striking out Paddy Matera and getting Jerrud Sabourin to fly out to right.
The Mudcats added a run in the top of the third, Smith scoring on Joey Wendle's sacrifice fly to center. Smith led off the inning with a double off the right field wall.
Carolina improved their lead to 4-0 with back-to-back RBI doubles in the fourth inning, Naquin scoring Justin Toole from first and Smith plating Naquin.
Left-hander Ashur Tolliver threw three scoreless innings out of the Keys' bullpen, allowing two hits and striking out one. Another lefty, Zach Fowler, pitched the ninth and allowed a run on two hits.
The Keys managed just six hits and Tucker Nathans was the only Key have more than one, recording his third-straight two-hit game. Naquin went 3-for-5 with a stolen base and an RBI and came a homer short of the cycle. Smith also went 3-for-5, driving in two runs. Naquin and Smith, who batted first and second, respectively, in the Carolina lineup, recorded six of their nine hits.
The Keys will try for a series split with Carolina Monday night at 7 p.m. at Harry Grove Stadium. Southpaw Tim Berry starts for the Keys against Nick Pasquale. For tickets, purchase online at FrederickKeys.com, by phone at 301-815-9939 or at the box office at Harry Grove Stadium.