FREDERICK, Md. - Last night, Single-A Frederick used solid starting pitching and stellar defense to beat Potomac in the fifth and deciding game of a first-round playoff series.
But both were missing tonight and Frederick’s offense struggled as well as the Keys lost to Kinston 3-1 in Game 1 of the Mills Cup championship series here at Harry Grove Stadium.
Kinston scored once in the top of the third to take a 1-0 lead. After a Manny Machado RBI double tied the score in the last of the third, the Indians scored twice in the fourth to take a 3-1 edge.
Jesus Aguilar led off that frame with a solo homer to left and a 2-1 lead. Tyler Cannon followed with a double and scored on a throwing error by third baseman Dale Mollenhauer.
Keys starter Nick Haughian gave up six hits and three runs (one earned) in four innings, throwing 76 pitches. He made a throwing error in the third and threw late to third base on a bunt play in the fourth.
“I felt like my stuff was pretty good, but I just didn’t make a couple of (defensive) plays in that fourth inning. They kept putting the ball down and I kept throwing it away. I lost my footing on one throw and threw wild to third on another one. I felt like I beat myself and let everyone down tonight,” Haughian said.
The Keys were frustrated on offense tonight, stranding nine runners on base and going 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
“We had our chances,” Keys manager Orlando Gomez said. “Sometimes you are concerned when you score in just one inning the night before and tonight we had chances, yes, you have to be concerned. Right now we are struggling offensively. We just need a bloop or something. We tried to hit and run. I just hope the bats wake up tomorrow.”
Michael Flacco hit into a double play to end a rally in the fourth and Jonathan Schoop’s double-play grounder ended the seventh. Brian Ward flied out with two on to end the eighth. Jacob Julius went 3-for-4 with three singles for Frederick.
“Right now, I’d trade those three hits for a win,” Julius said. “We had some opportunities tonight. I think everyone was a little pumped up today and maybe that led to some long swings or maybe trying to do too much on defense. There is still a long way to go in this series.”
The Keys have now scored just 15 runs in six playoff games.
The Keys got just one run and four hits over 5 1/3 off Kinston starter Clayton Cook, a pitcher who entered with a record of 0-4 and ERA of 12.79 in four earlier starts this season against the Keys.
Gomez said he would consider some lineup changes for Game 2 on Wednesday night. He may play Glynn Davis in the outfield, move Julius to DH, Aaron Baker to first and give Flacco, now just 1-for-21 in the post-season, the day off, he said.
Lefty Rick Zagone pitches for Frederick in Game 2 against Kinston righty Michael Goodnight.