Blue Rocks clinch division, eliminate Keys, 8-2

September 03, 1994|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Sun Staff Writer

FREDERICK -- The weekend had the makings of a mini version of the 1982 Orioles season.

The trailing team (Orioles and Frederick Keys) playing at home before overflow crowds and needing a sweep to win its division. The visiting team (Milwaukee Brewers and Wilmington Blue Rocks, respectively) needing one victory to clinch.

Twelve years ago, the Orioles won three straight games and took the Brewers to the final day of the season before relinquishing the American League East title on Earl Weaver's first retirement day.

Last night before a record 10,056 fans at Harry Grove Stadium, the Keys couldn't similarly prolong the drama.

Wilmington's Sal Fasano hit a grand slam in the first inning off ineffective Matt Jarvis and the Blue Rocks broke open a close game with four runs in the ninth to capture the Carolina League's Northern Division championship with an 8-2 victory.

The Blue Rocks, champions of both halves in the North, get a bye for the first round of the league playoffs while Durham and Winston-Salem decide the Southern Division.

"It's just a fantastic feeling," said the Blue Rocks' Johnny Damon. "With 94 wins now, you can just see how much talent we have in this organization [Kansas City Royals]."

Wilmington's Jim Pittsley (11-5), the league leader with 160 strikeouts in 155 1/3 innings entering the night, recorded his first seven outs on strikeouts and left with 11.

Chris Connolly relieved him with two on and one out in the seventh and retired pinch hitter B. J. Waszgis on a deep fly ball to right that Rod Myers leaped for and pulled back from across the fence for an out.

Connolly walked the hottest-hitting Key, Eric Chavez, with the bases loaded to bring Frederick to within 4-2, but he struck out Billy Owens to end the threat.

"I don't think when this season started we were the second-best team in this league," said Frederick manager Mike O'Berry, whose team's 74-61 overall record is exceeded only by Wilmington's 94-42.

"But our kids improved themselves and became a very good club. A lot of positive things came out of this year."

Jarvis hit leadoff man Damon with a pitch on a 3-1 count. Ramon Martinez sacrificed before Jarvis walked Myers and Larry Sutton to fill the bases.

Then, on a 1-1 pitch, Jarvis threw a curveball down the middle to Fasano, who deposited it over the left-field fence for a grand slam.

After an error by Chavez and the inning's third walk, Charles Devereaux replaced Jarvis and escaped with a forceout and a strikeout.

The Frederick bullpen was outstanding, as Devereaux and Larry Shenk shut down the Blue Rocks with only one other scoring chance through the eighth. Shenk pitched four hitless innings.

Red Wings 6, Red Sox 0

PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- Arthur Rhodes combined with two relievers on a two-hitter to lead Rochester over Pawtucket in a Triple-A International League game.

Baysox 9, Senators 3

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Jack Voigt had a two-run double in a three-run first inning and Bowie cruised past Harrisburg in a Double-A Eastern League game.

Crawdads 5, Suns 4

HAGERSTOWN -- Jay Whittaker's third hit, an RBI double in the 10th, led Hickory over Hagerstown in the Single-A South Atlantic League.

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