First, Willy Yahn bounced one through the middle after fighting off five previous pitches, all strikes.
Then, two innings later, Yahn knocked one into left field, followed two batters later by JC Escarra, who flared a single to left.
These were the kind of run-scoring hits the Frederick Keys had been missing over the last week as their losing streak stretched to a season-high eight games.
That streak finally ended late Tuesday night, as the Keys hung on for a 4-3 victory over the Carolina Mudcats in the nightcap of a doubleheader back in the friendly confines of Nymeo Field, where Frederick has won 13 of its last 19.
Earlier, the Keys dropped the opening game 8-1 as reliever Steve Klimek saw his scoreless streak of 19 2-3 innings end in a five-run seventh inning for Carolina. All of the runs were charged to Klimek, who saw his ERA jump from 1.17 to 2.56 over the course of two innings of work.
The Keys, meanwhile, had been struggling mightily to generate runs.
During their winless seven-game road trip that ended Sunday, they batted just .160 (8-for-50) with runners in scoring position. Despite generating 52 hits during the trip, they scored just 10 runs and left 55 on base.
“That was a long road trip,” Keys manager Ryan Minor said. “We faced some pretty good pitching, and things kind of snowballed on us. Guys were trying to do too much. We were trying to hit three-run homers instead of trying to get on base.”
They stewed on those numbers for an extra day as Monday’s series opener with Carolina was rained out, prompting Tuesday’s doubleheader.
Yahn did his part Tuesday in helping to lift the offensive malaise. His sacrifice fly to center brought home the Keys’ only run in the first game. He then went 2-for-3 in the second game with a pair run-scoring singles.
“I was glad my teammates put me in that position,” Yahn said. “I really try and treat all of my at-bats the same. Just trying to hit the ball hard.”
Escarra made it 4-1 in favor of the Keys with a fifth-inning single to left off Carolina starter Noah Zavolas, who fell to 3-3.
The Mudcats made it interesting in the bottom of the seventh by scoring a pair of runs off Keys reliever Diogenes Almengo.
But Almengo worked his way out of the jam to pick up his seventh save. He got Carolina’s Julio Garcia to fly out to right-center for the third out with runners on second and third.
Reliever Scott Burke got the win for the Keys to improve to 1-1 despite surrendering a home run on his second pitch of the night.
Starter Cameron Bishop, meanwhile, took the loss in the first game for the Keys to fall to 0-5 after struggling with his command. He gave up three earned runs on three hits, in addition to walking five and hitting a batter.
After splitting the doubleheader, the Keys are 29-34 this season, including 19-15 at Nymeo Field, while Carolina is 36-28 as the first half of the season draws to a close.
On Tuesday morning, Yahn and Klimek were two of seven Keys that earned a spot in next week’s Carolina League All-Star Game at Nymeo Field. That was the most for any team in the Northern Division.
The other Keys on the All-Star roster are starting pitchers Mike Baumann, the league’s co-leader in strikeouts (73), Cody Sedlock and David Lebron, as well as outfielders Zach Jarrett and Cole Billingsley.
The Carolina League All-Star Game will be played at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday. It will mark the third time Frederick has hosted the game, having previously done so in 1991 and 2005.