Travis Adair lined a two-out double into the right-field corner to plate two runs and give Frederick a 5-3 lead, capping a four-run eighth-inning rally that lifted the Keys past Wilmington Wednesday night.
The Keys (23-34, 57-69) beat Wilmington (23-36, 56-73) by that score, 5-3, after falling behind 3-1 in the top of the eighth. Frederick starter Zach Clark befuddled Blue Rocks hitters for five inning, allowing just one unearned run and Matt Hobgood relieved him in the sixth.
After tossing two scoreless innings to start his outing, Hobgood left two balls up and over the plate in the eighth. Dennis Raben hit a two-out double off the wall in left and the next batter, Sam Bates, cleared the left field wall with a two-run homer, putting the Blue Rocks ahead 3-1.
Blue Rocks starter Leonel Santiago, having allowed just a run on three hits to that point, returned to the mound to start the eighth but gave up a leadoff single to Michael Mosby and was pulled. Malcom Culver replaced him and, after striking out Sammie Starr, saw the Keys turn his pitches around for four hits that scored four runs.
Johnny Ruettiger flared a single to left and Tucker Nathans followed with a single past shortstop Jack Lopez, scoring Mosby from second. Then Dariel Alvarez, who homered earlier to tie the game a 1-1, singled through the hole past Lopez and Ruettiger danced around a tag at home plate, scoring from second and tying the game at 3-3.
After a groundout, Adair hit the double that would give Frederick a victory. Gene Escat pitched a perfect ninth to seal the win and picked up his sixth save in the process.
Hobgood (2-1) earned the win, pitching three innings and allowing three hits, two runs and striking out one. Culver (5-5), who was charged with three runs in his lone inning of work, took the loss.
Clark had his knuckleball fluttering effectively in front of 3,594 at Harry Grove Stadium Wednesday night, allowing just one hit and one run over five innings, both of which came in the first inning. Leadoff hitter Ethan Chapman flared a bloop single to left on a 3-2 pitch, stole second, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and then scored on a passed ball, Yem Prades striking out swinging on the pitch and reaching first safely.
From that point forward, Clark worked around six walks and only got himself into a major jam once, loading the bases on four walks in the fifth, but recorded two outs before the final free pass. He then gave up what was the only hard hit ball of the game against him, Prades smacking a sinking line drive to center, but Glynn Davis made a diving catch to keep the score at 1-0.
Santiago was just as good as Clark in the early-going, holding the Keys scoreless through five innings and allowing just two hits. In the sixth, though, Alvarez blasted Frederick's third hit of the game well beyond the left field fence for a solo homer, tying the game at 1-1.
Clark threw 100 pitches in what was by far his best start of the season for Frederick. He walked six and struck out one. Before Wednesday, he had allowed no fewer than five runs and four earned runs in any game. He allowed just an unearned run to the Blue Rocks.
Alvarez, playing just his sixth game with the Keys, continued his hot start with Frederick, going 2-for-4 with his second homer of the season and drove in two runs. He finished the night batting .481. Nathans also had two hits, drove in a run and walked once. Adair's double was his lone hit of the game and Davis tripled for the third time this year to lead off the bottom of the fifth, but was stranded at third.
Wilmington managed just four hits against Clark, Hobgood and Escat.
The Keys and Blue Rocks continue their final series of the season Thursday at 7 p.m. Lefty Trent Howard (3-0, 2.00) starts for the Keys against Kansas City (Wilmington's parent club) prospect Angel Baez (1-1, 4.71). For tickets, purchase online, by phone at 301-815-9939 or at the box office at Harry Grove Stadium.