The Kinston Indians ended their 25 years in Kinston losing to the Frederick Keys on night that seemed more like early November than mid-September in Eastern North Carolina. In a game that was delayed by rain an hour and 11 minutes at the outset which experienced a second delay in the 4th inning
It seemed that the K-Tribe never recovered their edge after their heartbreaking loss in Frederick Tuesday night in game two of the Carolina League “Mills Cup” Championship Series. For the second strait night in the series ineffective pitching and critical fielding errors doomed the K-Tribe. The damage all was done in the 3rd inning when the Keys, down 2-0 found the range early and often. Once again they used excellent hitting and aggressive base running taking advantage of every opportunity that they were given by the Indians. The Keys had doubles by Dale Mollenhauer and Miguel Abreu and Manny Muchado had a 3 run home run which served as a coup de gras capping an 11 run 3rd inning in which 7 of the runs were scored with 2 outs. In the inning the Indians committed 3 errors and had a wild pitch.
It was a sad end to what had been a magical final season for the K-Tribe. The Indians become the Carolina Mudcats in 2012. Many fans plan to continue to follow the team and make trips over to Zebulon to see “their” Mudcats next year. Many are pessimistic about the possibility of a new team coming to Kinston next year though management is hopeful of something coming through. Kinston is the smallest city to have a Minor League Baseball team in the country with a baseball tradition that dates back over 100 years. During the 25 years of their affiliation with the Cleveland Indians the K-Tribe won 5 Carolina League Championships and 11 Division titles. The playing field has been named the best in the Carolina League 4 of the past 10 years. Numerous Major Leaguers including Jim Thome, C.C. Sabbathia, Manny Ramirez, Shane Victorino, Alex White, Grady Sizemore, Albert Belle, Matt Williams, Bartolo Colon, Marco Scutaro, Jhonny Peralta, Cliff Lee, Luke Scott, Fausto Carmona and Lonnie Chisenhall along with many more Indians have reached the Majors. I expect that a number of the current K-Tribe players will follow in their illustrious footsteps.
One has to compliment the Orioles organization and the Frederick Keys. They put together a talented team that played aggressive yet solid fundamental baseball. A number of these young players will likely become outstanding Major League players.
I watched the game with the friends that I met this year and as we filtered out of the stadium we agreed to meet for dinner once a month. Since we are all connected on Facebook this will be much easier than in the past. Hopefully Kinston will land a Minor League Franchise next year. I appreciate the people of the city and hope for both baseball and better economic times for it and them in the future.