McIntosh Blast Lifts Blue Wahoos To Series Win Against Barons

May 12, 2024

written by Bill Vilona

This first six weeks of the season have not gone the way Paul McIntosh desired.

With his family in town Saturday, one sweet swing helped brighten the vibe.

McIntosh perfectly timed a 3-2 pitch in the sixth inning and launched a three-run homer that proved decisive in the Blue Wahoos’ 3-1 victory against the Birmingham Barons, thus clinching the series and delighting a sellout crowd at Blue Wahoos Stadium.

It was the Blue Wahoos’ (19-13) fourth win in five games against Birmingham (20-11), which has nine of the Chicago White Sox top 30 prospects on the roster and entered the week with a runaway lead for best record in the Southern League.

The latest win occurred during another stupendous Saturday at the ballpark.

This one included a postcard sunset, another sellout crowd, a pregame honor for Blue Wahoos manager Kevin Randel, a mid-game “Home Run For Life” to honor a recovering two-time stroke survivor, post-game fireworks provided by Bodacious Shops and Café, and a ballpark sleepover of local youth members of Scouting America.

It was quite the night, of course.

McIntosh joined with Blue Wahoos pitcher M.D. Johnson, who earned his first mound victory with another strong start, to win the night for Pensacola.

Johnson produced his best outing, which followed his previous best last week. He worked six innings, allowing just three hits and one run with no walks and six strikeouts.

When Johnson struck out Birmingham’s Edgar Quero, the No. 5-rated prospect for the White Sox, to end the sixth, he pumped his fist, pounded his glove and walked into congratulatory teammates in the dugout. One night earlier, Johnson was engaging fans by passing out team posters on Giveaway Friday.

His show of emotion Saturday led into the eventful bottom half of the sixth.

Left fielder Nathan Martorella continued his impact since joining the Blue Wahoos this week by leading off with a single. Joe Mack followed with a walk.

With one out, McIntosh battled into a 3-2 count against Barons reliever Anthony Hoopii-Tuionetoa, who was just added Saturday to the Barons’ roster following a trade with the Texas Rangers.

The next pitch was a hanging slider. McIntosh barreled the pitch into a towering blast that cleared the leap of left fielder Wilfred Veras and became a game-changing 3-run shot.

“I actually did see him (Hoopii-Tuionetoa) before… in the Arizona Fall League (in October), so there was some sort of familiarity there,” McIntosh said. “I just tried to put together my best swing with a couple guys on.”

It was McIntosh’s first homer of the season and he entered that at-bat with just one hit in 13 prior at bats. His batting average had dipped under .200.

But that swing was the boost the Blue Wahoos needed. From there, this team’s excellent bullpen took over. Angel Macuare (2 innings) and closer Austin Roberts threw up zeroes to seal the game. They allowed just two hits with four strikeouts.

Roberts ended the game by striking out Tim Elko on a 96-mph fast ball that froze him.

The series will conclude on Sunday with Barons starter Drew Thorpe (5-1, 1.01 ERA) against the Blue Wahoos’ Paul Campbell (3-1, 1.88) in a weeklong matchup that has showcased both teams’ deep pitching strengths.

WANT TO GO?

WHO: Birmingham Barons vs. Blue Wahoos

WHEN: Sunday, 4:05 p.m.

WHERE: Blue Wahoos Stadium

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