Blue Wahoos Start Fast, But Surging Barons Continue Winning Ways

July 6, 2019

The Birmingham Barons staggered into the first half season break with the Southern League’s worst record.

But they are far different team two weeks into the second half, as the Pensacola Blue Wahoos can attest.

The Barons (27-42 overall first half, 11-5 now), produced a four-run rally in the sixth inning Friday night in winning for the ninth time in 10 games, including the first two games of this series, with a 7-3 victory against the Blue Wahoos at Regions Field in Birmingham.

A crowd of 6,347 watched the Barons, affiliate of Chicago White Sox, fall behind in the fourth inning before turning the game in their favor to continue their best performance stretch this season.

The Blue Wahoos (47-39 overall, 9-7) got their three runs in the top of the fourth on two swings. Alex Kirilloff led off the inning with a homer over the right field wall, his third as a Blue Wahoos players. Mark Contreras followed four batters later with a two-run shot, scoring catcher Ben Rortvedt, who was hit a pitch after Kirilloff’s homer.

Those two blasts, however, were among only four Blue Wahoos hits in the game. They had only two baserunners the rest of the game.

Birmingham relievers Vince Arobio and Kodi Medeiros combined to allow just one hit and one walk in the final four innings of the game.

Bryan Sammons started for the Blue Wahoos, his first since June 25 before going on the injured list. He faced the minimum nine batters in the first three innings, yielding only a walk.

But in the fourth inning, the Barons’ gifted outfielder Luis Robert led off with a solo homer, his eight of the season to trim the deficit.

In the fifth inning, Ti’Quan Forbes walked. The Barons’ Luis Gonzalez tripled to score Forbes. With Sammons coming off an injury and having a pitch limit, the Blue Wahoos went to Andro Cutura with two outs in the fourth.

Cutura gave up a double to Ramon Torres to score Gonzalez and tie the game.

In the sixth inning, the Barons scored four runs on three hits against Cutura.

Nick Madrigal doubled to start the rally. Blake Rutherford singled to score Madrigal. Gavin Sheets reached on a fielding error. Both runners were moved on a sacrifice bunt. Cutura issued an intentional walk to load the bases.

Laz Rivera produced a squeeze play bunt to score Rutherford and keep the bases load. With two out, Ramon Torres worked a walk against Cutura to score another run. Robert was then hit by a pitch to force in the fourth run of the inning.

Unlike previous games of their six-game winning streak that ended Thursday, the Blue Wahoos could not get baserunners in the final five innings to set up a potential rally.

Travis Blankenhorn, Kirilloff, Contreras and Joe Cronin had the Blue Wahoos four hits.

The teams will play the third game of a six-game series on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with the Blue Wahoos’ Randy Dobnak (4-0, 2.54 ERA) going against the Barons’ Tanner Banks (1-5, 3.43 ERA).

The Blue Wahoos’ Adam Bray pitched two scoreless innings in relief of Cutura.

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