Wahoos Tie Series With Mississippi

July 17, 2017

Nick Senzel smacked his first walk-off base hit in a Pensacola Blue Wahoos uniform, when he hit a sharp single back up the middle to score Joe Hudson with the winning run.

Senzel, the top prospect in the Cincinnati Reds organization, said he was “lucky” to hit the fourth straight slider he saw from Mississippi Braves reliever Devan Watts that gave Pensacola a, 4-3, victory Sunday in front of 4,123 at Blue Wahoos Stadium.

“I wanted to put a good at-bat together,” Senzel said. “They were all sliders. The best pitch I got to hit was his first one. That’s his go-to pitch. The last one, I put the barrel on it and luckily it went through.”

Pensacola manager Pat Kelly felt comfortable having the Blue Wahoos’ hottest hitter at the plate with the outcome of the game on the line. His 22-year-old third baseman Sunday tied Jackson General’s second baseman Kevin Medrano for the longest hitting streak in the Southern League this season with 16.

“The right guy was up at the right time,” Kelly said. “Watts has good stuff. He had four tough sliders. That last one was up and Senzel got it through that hole.”

The second walk-off this series, after Tyler Goeddel hit one Friday, and fifth this season tied the five-game series, 2-2, with the final game played at 6:35 p.m. Monday.

“This has been a fun series,” Senzel said. “That’s a good club on the other side and they will be ready to play every day and so will we.”

The ninth inning rally started with a sizzling ground ball single to right field by left fielder Josh VanMeter with one out. Hudson followed with a walk and then centerfielder Tyler Goeddel drilled the first pitch into center field to score VanMeter and tie the game, 3-3.

It was the fourth time since Tuesday that Goeddel, who is hitting .249, has come through with a clutch hit. He has two-game winners and two hits that have tied the game against the Chattanooga Lookouts and Mississippi.

Pensacola shortstop Blake Trahan followed Goeddel with a walk to bring up Senzel. The second overall pick in the 2016 draft is hitting .383 (23-60) during his hitting streak with four doubles, two home runs and 12 RBIs.

Mississippi loaded the bases in the seventh inning on Pensacola middle reliever Alex Powers, who threw a wild pitch with two outs that allowed center fielder Connor Lien to score and put the Braves on top, 3-2.

In the eighth inning, Hudson kept Mississippi off the bases when he fired to Blue Wahoos first baseman Gavin LaValley to pick off Braves left fielder Tyler Neslony at first after his base hit. Mississippi second baseman Travis Demeritte reached first on an error by Trahan, Pensacola’s shortstop, but was gunned down by Hudson. This year, Hudson has thrown out 16 of 39 runners, or 41 percent, trying to steal on him this season.

Another big hit in the game came when Pensacola right fielder Gabriel Guerrero hit a two-out, line drive double to the opposite field in right that drove in Trahan and third baseman Senzel to tie the game, 2-2, in the sixth inning. Guerrero hit 3-4 for his 27th multi-hit game and it is the sixth time this season that the 23-year-old Dominican has had three hits total. He leads the ballclub with a .272 batting average.

Kelly said that Mississippi was trying to keep Guerrero from getting a pitch to hit.

“I don’t think you can pitch around Guerrero,” Kelly said, chuckling. “That ball was a foot outside and he hit it to right field.”

Mississippi scored two runs in the fourth to go up, 2-0. Neslony doubled to the wall in right center to drive in third baseman Austin Riley. Demeritte hit a high fly ball to right field that allowed Braves first baseman Joey Meneses tag up from third and score.

In the third start for Rookie Davis in Pensacola, who started the season in the Cincinnati Reds starting rotation, he pitched his most innings (five) and threw his most pitches (85).

Davis stood in the tunnel leading to the Blue Wahoos clubhouse after the game and gave all of his teammates a high-five. A Pensacola starter last season, he is 0-0 with a 4.61 ERA. Davis has pitched 13.2 innings total and allowed 12 hits, seven earned runs, walked six and struck out 11.

The 24-year-old retired 10 of the first 11 Mississippi batters he faced before running into trouble when he gave up two runs on four hits, including three in a row in the fourth inning. Davis, who has filled a void as one of Pensacola’s five starters, retired the side in the fifth inning.

“He’s getting better,” Kelly said. “It still comes down to fastball command. For him to be effective, he’s got to get the ball down.”

Pensacola evened its record at 12-12 in the second half. The South Division first half champions are 52-42 overall. Mississippi fell to 6-17 in the second half and 40-53 overall.

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