Biloxi Tops Pensacola 1-0

July 14, 2016

Pensacola Blue Wahoos starting pitcher Nick Travieso and Biloxi Shuckers starting pitcher Brandon Woodruff dueled to a standoff for seven innings.

It was Travieso, who blinked first, when Biloxi catcher Jacob Nottingham hit a leadoff single in the eighth inning and came around to score to give the Shuckers a 1-0 victory Wednesday over Pensacola at Blue Wahoos Stadium.

Woodruff allowed three hits and tied his career-high by striking out 10 Blue Wahoos batters in seven innings. Meanwhile, Travieso also blanked Biloxi for seven innings and allowed two hits with six strikeouts.

But Travieso had only 75 pitches, the Cincinnati Reds No. 9 prospect according to MLB.com, and took the mound in the eighth. That’s when Nottingham hit a soft liner to get on base, moved to second on a bunt by Biloxi third baseman Gabriel Noriega, took third on a Romano wild pitch and then scored on Shuckers second baseman Javier Betancourt’s hard line drive into left field.

Pensacola had runners get on base to lead off the sixth and eighth innings. But both times Blue Wahoos center fielder Jeff Gelalich was unable to lay a good bunt down, forcing Romano and Ray Chang out at second, respectively.

“We had two opportunities to bunt and we didn’t get the man over,” said Pensacola manager Pat Kelly. “To me that’s the difference in the ball game.”

Despite allowing the run, Travieso felt positive about his performance, becoming the first Blue Wahoos starter to pitch into the eighth inning this season. He credited Pensacola pitching coach Danny Darwin for helping him with his pitching motion.

“Darwin’s been great for me,” said Travieso, who also gotten pitching advice from his dad since he was 8-years-old. “He’s a guy who pitched in the big leagues. I pick his brain and feed off him. Once I find my tempo, I can control the game.”

Kelly said the Blue Wahoo hitters struggled with Woodruff’s fastballs that reached 98 mph Wednesday.

“We haven’t see that kind of velocity from a starter,” Kelly said. “(The hitters) thought they saw the ball good but it was up and down, in and out, it wasn’t constantly in any one spot.”

Woodruff improved to 4-6 on the year with a 4.04 ERA. Travieso earned the loss falling to 4-5 with a 4.07 ERA.

Travieso has completed six innings in three of his last four starts, allowing four runs in 22 innings pitched for a 1.64 earned-run average. In his last start against Mobile, Travieso threw six scoreless innings against Mobile and gave up just two hits.

The Blue Wahoos prospect laden starting pitchers lived up to their billing against Biloxi throughout the series. Each of the five starters at least pitched into the seventh inning. Against Biloxi they totaled 35 innings pitched, 23 hits, five earned runs, two walks, 30 strikeouts and posted a 1.29 ERA, while holding Shuckers hitters to a .185 average.

“If you look at the stats we were dominating hitters,” Travieso said. “We piggy-back off of each other. The bullpen feeds off of it, too. You want to go out there and throw well.”

Pensacola won the series, 3-2, but Kelly is waiting for the team’s hitting to become more consistent. They struck out 18 times earlier in the series and 14 Wednesday.

“We’ve got the pitching. We’ve got the defense,” Kelly said. “We’re just inconsistent with our hitting right now.”

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