Wahoos Burn Biscuits

July 1, 2017

The first half champions Pensacola Blue Wahoos scored more than two runs just once in its first six games and were shutout twice after the All-Star break. But the team broke out with 14 runs against the Montgomery Biscuits Friday at Blue Wahoos Stadium to win its fourth straight game.

Thanks to a game-winning single by catcher Chad Tromp in his Double-A debut in the first game and home run blasts by left fielder Tyler Goeddel and DH Josh VanMeter in the second game, Pensacola swept a doubleheader, 5-4, and, 9-4, from Montgomery in front of 4,897.

In the fifth inning, VanMeter yanked a three-run homerun to right field to give Pensacola a commanding, 7-1, lead. It was VanMeter’s second homer of the year, plus it helped him tie a career-high with four RBIs, which he did one other time in 2014 with the Low-A Fort Wayne TinCaps in the San Diego Padres organization. He now has 33 for the season, which is second on the team behind right fielder Aristides Aquino, who has 35.

VanMeter said his homer was a confidence booster after hitting 14 last year between High-A and Double-A in the Padres farm system.

“I’m coming off a year last year where I had quite a few homeruns,” VanMeter said. “The Southern League has been quite an adjustment. You saw our bats come to life. It’s really the first time this half that our bats have come to life.”

Kelly said VanMeter has played second base, shortstop, third base and the outfield because of his bat.

“He has the Tony Renda role,” said Kelly, referring to last year’s spark plug who played nearly every position for Pensacola and hit .326 before making his debut with the Cincinnati Reds later that season. “From day one, he has been one of our best hitters. I’ll find a position for him in our lineup every day.”

Hitting has been a sore spot for the Blue Wahoos all season, who entered Friday with the 9th best average in the Southern League at .226, ninth in runs scored at 259 and eighth in home runs with 39.

Domingo Tapia, who started the second game Friday, made his fourth start this season for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos and earned loud cheers as he left after throwing 5.1 innings, allowing one run, scattering seven hits and striking out four.

The 25-year-old started 87 games at the start of his professional career before moving to the bullpen after the 2014 season. Tapia earned his first win as a starter with the Blue Wahoos, improving to 1-2, with a 4.24 ERA.

Kelly has had to rely on relievers to make spot starts as it plays without a proven fifth starter in its rotation.

“Tapia has done a nice job as a starter but I think he likes the bullpen better,” Kelly said. “We had to use him out of necessity. We’ve really, really pushed our bullpen.”

Pensacola took a, 4-1, lead in the third inning when it batted around, getting five hits. The big hit came when Goeddel blasted a two-run homer to left field — the leadoff hitter’s third of the season.

Blue Wahoos second baseman Shed Long almost hit a third homer for the Blue Wahoos. Instead, he was the final out of the fifth inning when Montgomery right fielder Justin Williams leaped and scooped the ball off the top of the fence, robbing Long of his first Double-A home run that would have added three more Pensacola runs.

Montgomery had scored first when left fielder Joe McCarthy hit a double on a short blooper to left field that Pensacola shortstop Blake Trahan sprinted to catch and at the last minute reached out with his bare hand but couldn’t haul it in. The Biscuits’ Williams then lined a single to center to score McCarthy, giving the visitors a 1-0 lead.

Pensacola scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning Friday to come from behind to down Montgomery, 5-4. The seven-inning game was the first game of Friday’s doubleheader. It resumed after being suspended Thursday in the sixth inning after a 77-minute rain delay

The game-winning hit came from catcher Chad Tromp in his Double-A debut. Called up Wednesday from High-A Daytona Tortugas where he was hitting .311, Tromp stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning and smacked a line drive single that got past a diving left fielder and scored both pinch-hitter Nick Senzel and right fielder Aristides Aquino for a 5-4 lead.

“I’m excited,” Kelly said about the hitting of Tromp, Long, Gavin LaValley and Senzel, who all were promoted from High A to start the second half. “I like the at-bats I’m seeing. Tromp hit real well with Daytona, which is one of the reasons he is here.”

Blue Wahoos reliever Robert Stock earned the victory and improved to 3-1 in nine appearances and boasts a 4.15 ERA.

Stock came in after Geoff Broussard blew a 2-0 Pensacola lead by giving up four runs on six hits over the fifth and sixth innings to give Montgomery a 4-2 lead.

Meanwhile, Pensacola righty Alex Powers made his first start in 174 professional and college appearances. The 25-year-old Powers tossed a career-high four innings, tied a career-high with six strikeouts and didn’t give up any runs to the Biscuits on two hits.


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