FREDERICK - The Frederick rally towels turned into crying towels last night.
For the second straight game, the Keys played competitively, but not well enough to overcome a scorching Lynchburg team, which clinched the Carolina League's Northern Division title with a 4-2 victory at Harry Grove Stadium.
A crowd of 2,905 fans watched the Hillcats, Pittsburgh Pirates' farmhands, advance to the league championship series starting tomorrow against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, who won both halves in the Southern Division.
"We played good baseball. We just happened to come up against a team that was red-hot in the second half," said Frederick manager Dave Machemer.
Frederick completed the second half with a 28-39 record after much of its offensive punch was promoted to Double-A Bowie, including Ntema Ndungidi, Richard Paz and Brian Rust.
Lynchburg, a 2-1 winner in Game 1 of the best-of-three set, took a 2-0 advantage in the fourth inning last night and never trailed. The runs were the result of two walks issued by Matt Achilles and a triple by Dan Meier, the league's Player of the Month for August.
Against Jose Lopez, the Keys pecked away to stay in the game. They scored in the fourth on Franky Figueroa's single and a double by Alfredo Leon, and in the fifth on a walk to Tim Raines Jr. and later a single by Reed.
But that was all Lopez yielded in striking out seven over seven innings.
With the Keys down two runs in the eighth, Raines led off by driving a ball over left fielder B. J. Barns and was bidding for a triple when Barns' throw from the wall nailed him to snuff the rally.
"I'll be honest; I waved him on. When I saw the left fielder fall down, I thought the triple was a no-brainer," said Machemer, who was coaching at third. "I was watching the ball and didn't realize that Tim got a tough turn at first base. When I picked him up, he wasn't as far as I thought."