FREDERICK, MD-The Frederick Keys (31-38) defeated the Lynchburg Hillcats (40-29) 11-5 on Sunday afternoon at Nymeo Field, but the Hillcats still clinched a playoff spot. With the Wilmington Blue Rocks sweeping a double header against the Salem Red Sox, Lynchburg clinched the first half Carolina League North title.
The Keys got on the board in the first inning thanks to an Ademar Rifaela two-run blast against Hillcats starter Triston McKenzie. They would continue the scoring in the second, plating five more. Drew Turbin struck out, but reached base on a wild pitch. Following a walk and a single, Turbin scored on a Ricardo Andujar fielder's choice. Austin Hays followed with a three-run home run to left field. Two batters later, Rifaela hit his second home run of the game to make the lead 7-0. It was Rifaela's second straight game with two home runs, and marked his third straight at-bat with a long ball.
Lynchburg answered with a run in the top of the third. Ka'ai Tom hit a home run against Ofelky Peralta , his second in as many days to make the lead 7-1. The Keys, however, got two runs back in the bottom of the frame. Andujar singled and came home to score on a Hays double. Ryan Mountcastle followed with an infield single that scored Hays all the way from second, pushing the advantage to eight.
The score would remain the same until the seventh. Yonathan Mendoza walked to lead off the inning, and Anthony Miller followed one batter later with a two-run blast to left center field, making it 9-3.
In the bottom of the seventh, Hays extended the lead to 11-3 with a two-run blast off of Jared Robinson. It was the second multi-home run of the day for the Keys, and gave him a 5-for-5 day with six RBIs, sitting a triple shy of the cycle.
The Hillcats scored twice in the ninth thanks to a pair of solo home runs from Haggerty and pinch hitter Claudio Bautista, to cut the deficit to 11-5, but that is how the score would remain.
Peralta (1-5) earned his first win for the Keys, tossing five innings of one-run baseball. He allowed five hits while striking out eight. McKenzie (5-4) took the loss for the Hillcats. The right-hander allowed seven runs on six hits in just 1.2 innings of work.
The Keys and Hillcats will meet again after the all-star break when Frederick travels down to Lynchburg for a four-game set. The first game will be on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. The orange and black will send four players to the Carolina League all-star game in Salem, VA. Hays and Randolph Gassaway will start in the outfield for the northern division, while Mountcastle will be the starting designated hitter. Tanner Chleborad joins the trio in the bullpen.
Frederick returns to Nymeo Field on Monday, June 26 when the Wilmington Blue Rocks come to town. Each game of that four-game set will be at 7 p.m. and can be heard on 1450 AM The Source, frederickkeys.com, and the TuneIn Radio app. For tickets, fans can call 301-815-9939 or visit frederickkeys.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.