Blue Wahoos Rally After Manager Ejected For 7-6 Comeback Win Against M-Braves

June 9, 2024

written by Bill Vilona

Rarely has Blue Wahoos manager Kevin Randel become visibly so enraged at an umpire.

But his anger boiled over enough Saturday to get tossed, the first ejection in front of the hometown fans in his four seasons as manager, in the top of the seventh inning as the crowd roared its approval. And then his team had his back.

Jacob Berry laced a two-run, go-ahead double in bottom of the inning as the Blue Wahoos produced a 4-run rally and eventual 7-6 victory against the Mississippi Braves before another Saturday sellout crowd (5,038) at Blue Wahoos Stadium.

As the post-game fireworks were launched above Pensacola Bay in the traditional Saturday display, one of the Blue Wahoos’ better wins this season was celebrated.

It turned even better for this team when the Blue Wahoos (30-25) learned the Biloxi Shuckers beat the Montgomery Biscuits, thus moving Pensacola to within 1.5 games in the first half Southern League South Division race with 13 games remaining.

All of this festive scene began from a rough start.

The Blue Wahoos trailed 4-0 after the first inning. They chipped away to get within a run after Joe Mack’s two-run bomb in the fifth inning for his fourth homer in four games.

But in the seventh, Braden Parker hit a ball that was initially ruled foul by the third base umpire, then a home run after all three umpires consulted. Randel raced from the dugout, exchanged some words with home plate umpire Elliott Melton, then calmed and retreated to the dugout.

But on a 1-1 count to the next batter, Cade Burnell, Randel raced again from the dugout screaming inches from Melton’s face and was tossed out. Burnell grounded out to end the inning.

The Blue Wahoos responded by sending eight batters to the plate, knocking out reliever Jorge Juan, who struggled from the first pitch in the inning to gain command.

Leadoff batter Harrison Spohn started the eighth with a walk. Dalvy Rosario singled. After both runners moved over on a balk, Paul McIntosh hit a hard grounder past diving third baseman Yolbert Sanchez for a two-run double to tie the game. The M-Braves chose to intentionally walk Mack.

After Nathan Martorella struck out, Berry jumped on a pitch from Juan and drove it into the right center gap to produce a 7-5 lead.

The M-Braves got a run off reliever Raffi Vizcaíno in the eighth. In the ninth, after a leadoff single and speedy Justin Dean inserted as a pinch runner, Vizcaíno got Cal Conley to hit into a double play that was started by Spohn at shortstop after a weird hop off the mound.

With the crowd standing in cheering with anticipation, Vizcaíno recorded the final out by covering the bag on a grounder to Martorella at first base. Vizcaíno then reacted with emotion as teammates surrounded him.

The M-Braves began this game with a first-pitch homer by leadoff batter Cody Milligan against Blue Wahoos starter Paul Campbell, who had a rough night.

The next three batters reached, along with an error by Campbell, leading to the four-run first inning.

Martorella drove home the Blue Wahoos’ first run. Mack’s two-run homer was part of a night where he reached base three times as the designated hitter. McIntosh also reached base three times, scored a pair of runs and threw out two M-Braves baserunners in a big performance.

The Blue Wahoos will try to win the series against the M-Braves in Sunday’s final game of the homestand. It will feature the M-Braves’ David Fletcher (0-0, 1.50 ERA), former Los Angeles Angels veteran infielder, on the mound Sunday for a second time this week as a knuckleball starting pitcher.

The Blue Wahoos will counter with Jonathan Bermúdez (2-3, 1.88 ERA), who shined Tuesday in the previous matchup between these two. Pregame activities will begin at 3:40 p.m., including ceremonial first pitches. The actual first pitch of the game will be at 4:05 p.m.

Following Sunday’s game, the Blue Wahoos will have Monday off before taking a road trip to Birmingham, Alabama to face the Birmingham Barons in a six-game series beginning Tuesday.


— The Emerald Coast Okinawa, a steel drummer group from Niceville, whose goal is to help bring awareness to Okinawan (Japan) culture and Asian-American culture, performed outside Blue Wahoos Stadium before the game, entertaining fans as they entered the stadium.— The National Anthem was performed by the Judson College Alumni, a school located in Marion, Alabama.

— The sellout crowd was the 15th for the Blue Wahoos in 32 home games.


WHAT: Homestand Finale

WHO: Mississippi Braves vs. Blue Wahoos

WHEN: Sunday, 4:05 p.m.

WHERE: Blue Wahoos Stadium


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