Allan de San Miguel’s second home run of the night put an end to nearly four hours of not-so-pretty baseball as the Frederick Keys defeated the Potomac Nationals, 9-8 in 12 innings.
The two teams combined for 27 hits and 16 men left on base and five errors — four by the Keys, which rendered four of the last five P-Nats runs scored as unearned.
Early on, this looked like it would be a laugher. A.J. Cole struck out two in the top of the first, then Billy Burns led off the Potomac half with an opposite-field single and easily scored on a Michael Taylor double to the left-center gap. Jason Martinson doubled with one out. Kevin Keyes singled with two out.
After one inning it was three runs in on five hits. Cole would set down the next six straight, though his command was shaky and five of the outs were flies to the outfield. Meanwhile, Frederick starter Zach Petersime settled down to retire nine of eleven.
As is often the case, the middle innings are where a starter should really be evaluated and on their second look at Cole the Keys broke up both the perfecto and the shutout in the space of two batters with a leadoff triple and an RBI groundout in the 4th. In the 5th, Cole got four grounders and three outs and appeared en route to emerge from an uneven start with a decent line, if not a win, after a strikeout and a popup in the 6th.
Instead, with two outs Cole issued a walk, unleashed a wild pitch, and gave up the first of de San Miguel’s circle clouts to turn a 3-1 Potomac lead into a 4-3 advantage. He was lifted for a reliever and finished with a disappointing four runs on four hits and two walks over five and 2/3rds.
After that, things got ugly. A double, a dropped infield pop for an error extended the Keys lead to 5-3. Frederick returned the favor in the 7th with an error on a sacrifice that extended the inning and enabled Martinson to smack a three-run shot that gave the P-Nats their final lead of the night at 7-5.
Frederick went back on top in the 8th when a dropped third strike was the, um, key to the three-run rally that reclaimed the lead at 8-7. Potomac tied it at 8-8 in the last of the 9th on a Burns infield single, a Taylor single to left that pushed the P-Nats leadoff man to third, and a sacrifice by Cutter Dykstra.
Taylor stole second and took third on the fourth Frederick error to set up the chance for the win in regulation. Martinson, however, couldn’t repeat his 7th inning heroics and struck out to send the game into extras.
Potomac had a second chance at a walkoff win when Norfork led off the 11th with flare to no man’s land in left center but consecutive popups on bunt attempts by Burns and Taylor killed the rally, which ended with another Martinson whiff.
Following the second de San Miguel shot in the 12th, Potomac went quietly in their half with a popup and two grounders to short as Frederick reliever Eric Beaulac tossed the third of his three scoreless frames to get the “W.”
The series continues tonight, weather permitting, with a matchup of Kylin Turnbull (0-2, 12.00) vs. Zach Davies (1-0, 3.27).