Wahoos End Series With 3-1 Finale Win Over Smokies

May 22, 2023

On their Throwback Sunday, the Blue Wahoos returned to a narrative that’s worked well in the past.

They got solid starting pitching, put together just enough runs, then had their bullpen show its winning depth in the Blue Wahoos’ 3-1 victory against the Tennessee Smokies at Blue Wahoos Stadium.

With closer Sean Reynolds earning his league-best seventh save, thus pounding his glove in delight after recording the final pop out, this win enabled the Blue Wahoos (25-13) to gain a split in the six-game homestand with the Smokies and increase their first-place lead to five games in the Southern League South Division.

A crowd of 4,202 took a cue from famed organist Nancy Faust, who worked 41 years and missed just five games as the iconic Chicago White Sox entertainer. They clapped and sang along with her various medleys as the Blue Wahoos took a 3-1 lead in the fifth and played good defense the rest of the way.

Faust got one of the loudest cheers when announced for a final time in the ninth inning.

Pensacola’s winning inning occurred in a strange way. After J.D. Orr led off the fifth inning with a walk, José Devers laced a one-out single. Dane Myers drew a walk and Victor Mesa Jr. battled his way with foul balls and good takes to draw a bases-loaded walk to score Orr.

Troy Johnson then took a curveball in the back to force in the third run. A double-play ball by Will Banfield ended the inning with the 3-1 lead. The Blue Wahoos got their first run when Dane Myers tripled home José Devers in the first inning.

The Blue Wahoos had numerous other scoring chances in the game, but couldn’t break it open.

But their pitching Sunday was outstanding against the Smokies, the Chicago Cubs’ Double-A affiliate and North Division leaders.

Blue Wahoos righthander M.D. Johnson, making his second start of the week, grinded through four innings. He gave up a leadoff walk against Andy Weber, who came around to score the game’s first run on two-out single by Cole Roederer.

But the rest of the way, Johnson found a way to get through innings.

He threw 82 pitches, yielded three walks and struck out five in those four innings. His best inning was his final one when he gave up a leadoff single, then a walk, but retired the next three batters with a pair of strikeouts and inning-ending flyout.

Cristian Charle and Josan Méndez followed with three scoreless innings of relief. They combined to allow just one hit and had a trio of strikeouts.

That set the table for Reynolds to finish the game and seal the win.

The Smokies had just four baserunners in the final five innings.

Following the game, as is customary on Sunday, children were able to run the bases and families played catch in the outfield.

The Blue Wahoos will have Monday off before embarking on a two-week road trip to face the Mississippi Braves and Biloxi Shuckers.

The series against the M-Braves begins on Tuesday at Trustmark Park in Pearl, Mississippi. The Blue Wahoos’ ace Patrick Monteverde (5-0, 1.29 ERA) is the scheduled starter against the M-Braves Luis De Avila (1-3, 4.00). The teams will play through Sunday, May 28.

After a rough start, the M-Braves (16-21), the Atlanta Braves’ Double-A affiliate, have turned things around. They were 7-3 in their last 10 games entering Sunday. It will be the Blue Wahoos’ first of two trips this season to Pearl, Miss.

Following that series, the Blue Wahoos will travel to Biloxi, Mississippi to face the Biloxi Shuckers for six games beginning on May 29.

by Erik Bremer, photo Nino Mendez / Pensacola Blue Wahoos


One Response to “Wahoos End Series With 3-1 Finale Win Over Smokies”

  1. BRANDY on May 22nd, 2023 10:53 am

    We went Friday and let me say idc how good Reynolds is… His attitude Friday night was awful…. He was so rude to some younger kids. These kids look up to these guys but this guy is just grumpy.

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