FREDERICK, MD -For the third straight day, the Frederick Keys were plagued by one bad inning, as the Lynchburg Hillcats scored five in the eighth en route to a 8-3 win on Sunday night at Harry Grove Stadium. The loss was Frederick's fourth straight, and gave Lynchburg the series sweep. Since the second-half got underway, the Keys are 3-14 at home, while the club has been swept in four of its six home series during that time.
Starting pitchers Mark Blackmar and Cody Scarpetta each allowed only hit through their first three innings of work, before both sides plated individual runs in the fourth. Levi Hyams opened the inning with a triple off the batters eye in centerfield and scored on a groundout to the right side by Justin Bloxom. The Keys countered with a double by Trey Mancini to begin the home-fourth, a flyout to right by Chih-Shien Chang and a sac-fly by Brenden Webb.
In the sixth, the Hillcats went back ahead 2-1. Joe Odom doubled to right and scored after a pair of fielder's choices. Frederick nearly got a double play to end the inning, but with men at the corners, Hillcats manager Luis Salazar put Hyams in motion to avoid the twin killing.
Blackmar worked a quick seventh inning to complete his night. In his longest start since July 3, 2012 as a member of the Aberdeen Ironbirds, Blackmar allowed two runs on three hits. He walked three and struck out two, while he trimmed his ERA to 3.55. At his best in the month of July, Blackmar is 2-0 over four starts this month with a 2.55 ERA (24.2 IP/7ER).
In the seventh, the Keys pulled even for the second time after several mental mistakes by the Hillcats. Following singles by Webb and Wynston Sawyer to begin the inning, Joel Hutter hit a sacrifice bunt to advance both runners. On the play, David Petersen hesitated on his throw to second, and everyone was safe. That set up a chance for Jerome Pena, who scored Webb on a sac-fly to center.
Later in the inning, Frederick loaded the bases after nobody covered second on a groundball back to the mound, but Peterson (1-0) struck out Lucas Herbst and got Mancini to pop-up to leave the bags packed. On the game, the Keys went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
That failed chance would come back to bite the Keys in the eighth, as the Hillcats would bat around against Matt Hobgood. Odom walked with one out and moved to third on a single by David Nick. Hutter then committed an error on a hard grounder Hyams hit to second to plate the go-ahead run. Following a fielder's choice, Justin Bloxom added an RBI single, while a walk to Will Skinner loaded the bases for Kevin Ahrens, who brought everyone in with a double.
Down 7-2, the Keys would get a solo homer by Jason Esposito in the eighth, but the team would fail to score against Cody Fassold in the ninth. Nick added a solo homer off Jesse Beal in the ninth to complete the Hillcats scoring.
Peterson earned the win, despite allowing the tying run to score in the seventh. Hobgood (2-3) received the loss, allowing five runs on four hits over one inning. He walked two and struck out one.
The Keys will have an off-day Monday, before opening a three-game series in Winston-Salem on Tuesday night. Dylan Bundy (1-1, 6.11) makes the start and will be opposed by Dash righty Tyler Danish (3-2, 3.40). Frederick returns home on August 5, when the Carolina Mudcats come to town. For ticket information, fans can call 301-815-9939 or visit frederickkeys.com.