FREDERICK, MD-The Frederick Keys claimed their third straight win Saturday night, topping the Potomac Nationals 4-3 at Harry Grove Stadium. Beneficiaries of two Nationals errors and several other miscues in the field, Frederick pulled into a tie for the wildcard lead with the Lynchburg Hillcats, who fell to the Myrtle Beach Pelican 5-2. With just three games remaining in the regular season, the orange and black are 33-34 in the second-half CL North standings.
Potomac scored first off Parker Bridwell in the second inning. Needing nearly 40 pitches to get out trouble, Bridwell (7-10) walked Randolph Oduber to open the frame, while a single by Khayyan Norfork and a base knock by Estarlin Martinez loaded the bases with one out. Bridwell proceeded to strike out Craig Manuel, but a walk to Cody Dent forced in the first run.
In the home-second the Keys countered. Chih-Hsien Chiang walked to begin the inning and moved to third on a single by Nathans. The next batter Austin Wynns then hit a sharp grounder to second which was misplayed by Khayyan Norfork tie the game. One batter later, Jerome Pena singled home Nathans to make it 2-1. The Keys completed their scoring via a fielder's choice by Johnny Ruettiger.
After the laborious second, Bridwell settled in nicely, allowing just one more run on a solo homer by John Wooten in the sixth. Seeing just one over the minimum in his final four innings, the Texan allowed two runs on three hits. He walked three and struck out six. It was his third win in as many games against the Nationals.
Still leading 3-2, the Keys added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth. Jason Esposito reached on a single and moved to second on an errant throw by Nationals shortstop Stephen Perez, while a single by Joel Hutter stretched the Keys lead to a pair.
In the eighth, Tucker Nathans saved the day with a critical outfield assist. After a leadoff walk to Isaac Ballou, a single and a fielder's choice put runners at the corners. Keys reliever Ivan Hernandez then got Randolph Oduber to pop out before a walk to Mike McQuillan loaded the bases for Norfork. He singled to left scoring Ballou, but Nathans throw home beat Wooten who was trying to score from third.
With the lead down to a run, Lex Rutledge held firm in the ninth, retiring the bottom-third of the Nationals order to pick up his eighth save.
Frederick and Potomac play a doubleheader on Sunday afternoon starting at 4 p.m. Matt Taylor (6-2, 3.13) makes the game one start for the Keys, while the team has not announced its game two starter. Both broadcasts can be heard on 1450 AM The Source. For tickets, fans can call 301-815-9939 or visit frederickkeys.com.