Jerome Pena tied the game for the Frederick Keys in the fifth, but it was his error in the top of the ninth that ultimately resulted in a 3-2 loss for his team Monday night.
With runners on first and second and two outs, David Walters delivered 2-1 pitch to Elmer Reyes, who hit a hard grounder toward the hole on the left side of the infield. Keys shortstop Sammie Starr ranged to his left, fielded the ball and threw to Pena covering second well ahead of the oncoming runner, but Pena saw the throw go off the webbing of his glove. As a result, Will Skinner, who pinch ran for Robby Hefflinger, came around from second to score the go-ahead run.
Travis Adair reached base on an infield single in the bottom of the ninth, but with Pena in the on-deck circle, Johnny Ruettiger popped out to end the game.
The loss drops the Keys to 30-26 and into third place in the Carolina League North with 14 games remaining in the first half of the season. Lynchburg leapfrogged Frederick with then and sits at 30-25, a half-game ahead of the Keys and 1.5 games behind division leader Potomac.
Back-to-back two-out doubles got the Hillcats on the board in the fourth inning. Kyle Kubitza's lazy fly ball landed in fair territory down the left-field line just out of left fielder Travis Adair's reach, moving Hefflinger to third and setting up Shawn McGill. The Hillcats' catcher then lined a double to right-center, scoring both runners and giving Lynchburg a 2-0 lead.
Pena, however, erased the Hillcats' advantage with one big swing in the bottom of the fifth, blasting a two-out, two-run home run just to the right of dead center field. Pena's seventh homer and second in as many days scored Sammie Starr, who reached on a double, knotted the game at 2-2 and tied Pena for the team lead in home runs.
In front of 2,572 at Harry Grove Stadium, Keys starter Zach Petersime produced his best effort of the season, going six innings, allowing two runs on four hits and a walk and striking out four. Lynchburg's starter Navery Moore matched Petersime, going six frames and allowing two runs on seven hits and a walk while fanning six. Neither factored in the decision.
Zach Fowler (2-2) took the loss for Frederick, despite pitching well. He allowed three hits and struck out one in 2.2 innings after relieving Petersime, Skinner's unearned, game-winning run the only blemish on his outing.
Ronan Pacheco (2-1) pitched two scoreless innings, striking out four, to earn the win and Nate Hyatt earned his seventh save of the season by pitching a scoreless ninth.
The Keys out-hit Lynchburg 9-7 Monday, but went just 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left seven men on base. Designated hitter Michael Ohlman went 2-for-3 with a pair of bases-empty doubles, and Pena, Adair and Starr also had two hits. Kubitza, Reyes and McGill each recorded doubles for the Hillcats and accounted for five of their team's seven hits.
The Keys host Lynchburg at 7 p.m. Tuesday night, game two of a four-game series at Harry Grove Stadium. Zach Davies (4-2, 3.92) starts for the Keys against Hillcats starter Jarrett Miller (4-3, 3.57). For tickets, purchase online at FrederickKeys.com, by phone at 301-815-9939 or at the Keys' box office at Harry Grove Stadium.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.