Blue Wahoos Get First Shutout Of The Season

April 17, 2016

The Pensacola Blue Wahoos lowered its team earned run average even more with Rookie Davis, Wandy Peralta and Kyle McMyne combining for the team’s first shutout this season.

Pensacola’s ERA dropped to an absurd Southern League-leading 1.80 in its, 3-0, victory Saturday over the Jacksonville Suns in front of a packed sellout crowd of 5,038 at Blue Wahoos Stadium.

Strong pitching has been the theme for the 2016 version of the Cincinnati Reds Double-A affiliate in its first two series against Jacksonville and the Mississippi Braves. It has thrown four one-run games.

Despite feeling under the weather when he arrived at the park, Rookie Davis picked up his second victory, leading the way with six scoreless innings. He allowed five hits, walked one and struck out four.

Davis said he didn’t tell anyone how sick he felt.

“I didn’t want it to be an excuse,” Davis said. “I wanted to put it all on the line. The other team doesn’t feel sorry for me.”

Pensacola manager Pat Kelly said he was impressed that Davis “battled through” his sickness and a hip flexor injury suffered in spring training.

The Blue Wahoos tough-to-hit pitching staff is getting a lot of credit, but Pensacola has relied on strong defense, as well.

In the fourth inning, J.T. Riddle smacked a single to right field sending Austin Dean, who drew a lead-off walk, to third. But Riddle rounded the bases too far and got caught in a run down. However, Dean decided to bolt for home and Pensacola first baseman Brandon Dixon gunned him out at the plate on a nice tag by catcher Chad Wallach.

“Our ERA under two shows how good our defense is,” said Davis, who has allowed one run in 11 innings for a 0.82 ERA. “It’s not just the pitching staff. We’re not averaging 27 strikeouts per game. We have a great defense behind us.”

Kelly said it was a good thing the rundown of Riddle took so long.

“Dean got a little anxious and Wallach made a good play on a tough throw,” Kelly said.

Pensacola scored first in the fourth inning when Davis hit a slow and high chopper to second base that scored third baseman Tony Renda from third. Blue Wahoos center fielder Beau Amaral then doubled down the right field line to drive in both Dixon and Wallach and just like that Pensacola led, 3-0.

It was the 22-year-old Davis’ first RBI since he was an 18-year-old playing in high school. He said he wasn’t trying to hit the ball to the opposite field, his swing was just behind.

“I was a little bit late,” Davis said. “I always pictured my first RBI coming on a hit.”

Pensacola has now won its first two series and is 8-2 and in first place in the Southern League South Division. It’s the team’s best start in its five-year history.

The Wahoos travel to Biloxi to play the Milwaukee Brewers Double-A affiliate the Shuckers Sunday afternoon. The Shuckers are in second place this season. The game will be a rematch of last year’s South Division playoffs that pitted the two teams against each other and was Pensacola’s first playoff appearance since it was established in 2012. Biloxi won the playoff series.

Also Saturday, Pensacola second baseman Alex Blandino, the Reds sixth best prospect, was activated Friday after an injury in spring training while playing in the World Baseball Classic qualifier for Nicaragua. He got his first hit Saturday in his seventh plate appearance on a blistering line drive to left field. He’s now 1-7 in two games.

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