FREDERICK, MD-Steven Brault was excellent in the front end of a doubleheader on Wednesday night, leading the Frederick Keys to a 3-1 victory over the Salem Red Sox. However, troubles on defense saw the orange and black drop the nightcap 5-4 at the Grove. With the split, and a pair of losses by Wilmington in a twinbill of their own, the Keys leapfrog the Blue Rocks in the second-half CL North standings. Still, a win by Lynchburg keeps the Hillcats a game in front of the Keys for the wildcard, while a pair of wins by Potomac gives the Nationals a second-half division title.
Honored as the Carolina League "Pitcher of the Week" on Monday, Brault (2-0) was just as effective in his first home start. Tossing a seven-inning complete game, the southpaw allowed one run on three hits to go along with six strikeouts. He walked only one. The seven innings tied a career-high for Brault, who also registered his second professional complete game. Since August 10, the Californian has won four straight starts.
Frederick did all of its damage off Sox starter Heri Quevedo in the first. After walking back-to-back batters to open up the game, the righty threw a wild pitch to put a pair in scoring position. Trey Mancini then brought home the Keys first run with a groundout to short, before a double by Chih-Hsien Chiang made it 2-0. Later in the inning, Tucker Nathans added an RBI single to score Chiang. Although Quevedo (1-1) regrouped from there, he was tagged with the loss, giving up the three runs over five innings.
In the nightcap, the orange and black tied their season-high with four errors, the second time in five days the team had committed that many mishaps defensively. Two of the four errors came in the last two innings, while both led to Salem runs. With the game tied at four entering the seventh, Dylan Rheault allowed a leadoff double to Carlos Asuaje. On to bunt, Reed Gragnani executed the sacrifice, but Rheault's throw was wide of first and allowed Asuaje to score. In their last at-bats, the Keys were retired in order by Matty Ott.
Salem plated four of its five runs in its final three trips to bat. In the sixth, the Sox tied the game after a throwing error by Adrian Marin, a double by Kendrick Perkins and an RBI single by Jose Vinicio. The Sox also plated a pair in the fifth after an RBI triple by Matty Johnson and a double by Asuaje which plated Johnson. Those runs came on the heels of a failed opportunity in the fourth, where Salem loaded the bases with nobody out, but failed to score off Ivan Hernandez.
All four of the Keys runs came in the third off Red Sox starter William Cuevas. Sending eight men to bat, Frederick scored its runs off an RBI single by Pedro Perez, a single by Chiang and an error by Perkins in right as well as a sac-fly by Esposito. Thanks to a pair of hits in each game, Chiang's hitting streak is now at 12 games, which equals the longest by a Frederick player in 2014.
Rheault (0-2) was hit with the loss, giving up a run on two hits in the seventh. Madison Younginer (3-3) earned the win, allowing just one hit in 2.1 frames of scoreless relief. Ott picked up the save, striking out one in the seventh.
Frederick and Salem continue their series on Thursday night at Harry Grove Stadium. Sebastian Vader (2-4, 4.71) gets the ball for the Keys and will be countered by Sox lefty Cody Kukuk (4-6, 4.92). First pitch is slated for 7:00 p.m. and the broadcast can be heard on 1450 AM The Source. 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.