Heading into the top of the ninth inning Tuesday night, everything was going the Frederick Keys’ way.
The Orioles’ High-A affiliate was leading the visiting Wilmington Blue Rocks, 4-0. The Keys’ starting pitcher, Michael Baumann — one of the Orioles’ top pitching prospects — had thrown 6 2/3 no-hit innings and struck out a career-high 12. Travis Seabrooke kept Wilmington hitless for an additional 1 1/3 innings, setting up a dramatic finish for a possible combined no-hitter.
The basics: Four walks, a fielding error and a two-out, two-run double.
After Seabrooke struck out Martin Gaspirini to start the ninth, he walked two straight batters. Luis Perez entered the game and walked the first batter he faced to load the bases, bringing the tying run to the plate. The no-hit bid was still intact, but now the game hung in the balance.
Wilmington’s Sebastian Rivero reached on an error by shortstop Yeltsin Gudino, allowing a run to score. After another walk — the seventh allowed by Keys pitchers — and a wild pitch, the Blue Rocks trailed by just one, 4-3. They still didn’t have a hit.
The next batter, Dennicher Carrasco, popped out to first base, leaving runners on second and third with two outs. Finally, Wilmington’s first hit came. Unfortunately for the Keys, it was all the Blue Rocks needed.
Cristian Perez hit a ground-rule double down the left-field line to drive in two runs, putting Wilmington, improbably, ahead 5-4.
The Shorebirds were in danger of being no-hit as the Lakewood BlueClaws took a 5-0 lead into the bottom of the ninth. Instead, Jean Carlos Encarnacion hit a walk-off grand slam to give Delmarva a 7-5 win.