June 23, 2017

The scheduled Pensacola Blue Wahoos and Chattanooga Lookouts game Thursday has been postponed due to inclement weather at AT&T Field.

The game will be made up as part of a doubleheader at a date to be announced.

Wahoos Finish First Half At 40-30

June 19, 2017

The Pensacola Blue Wahoos finished the first half with three straight losses to the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. But more importantly the Double-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds also finished with its fourth consecutive half season title in the Southern League.

The crown matches the Tennessee Smokies, who also won four consecutive halves from 2009 to 2011.

Pensacola fell, 3-2, in the first seven-inning game and, 1-0, in the second game Sunday on a walk-off single with the bases loaded and one out when Jacksonville left fielder Alex Glenn slapped a single to right field to score catcher Austin Nola at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.

Up until the seventh inning, Pensacola starter Luis Castillo was riding a three-game winning streak. Castillo has pitched 6.1 scoreless innings and given up just two hits before Glenn’s game-winning hit. He dropped to 4-4 with a 2.58 ERA on the season.

Although Pensacola hammered out eight hits, the lineup was 1-8 with runners in scoring position Sunday.

Jacksonville starter Chris Mazza and reliever Andy Beltre combined to shutout Pensacola on eight hits, one walk and five strikeouts over seven innings. It was the Blue Wahoos seventh shutout loss this season with two, 1-0, losses coming in this series with the Jumbo Shrimp.

In the first game, Blue Wahoos second baseman Alex Blandino put Pensacola on the board first, 1-0,  when he crushed his sixth homer of the year over the left field fence.

But Jacksonville pushed two runs across in the third inning to take a 2-1 lead, when center fielder Yefri Perez, who leadoff the inning with a double, scored on a bunt by pitcher Omar Bencomo on a throwing error by Pensacola catcher Adrian Nieto. The second run came when Bencomo stored on a sacrifice fly by right fielder John Norwood.

Jacksonville catcher Cam Maron, who played with Pensacola, his a solo shot in the fourth to put the Jumbo Shrimp ahead, 3-1. Pensacola pulled within one run in the top of the seventh, 3-2, when Nieto singled to center to drive in first baseman Eric Jagielo, who leadoff the inning with a walk.

Pensacola starter Deck McGuire lasted four innings, giving up three runs, two earned, on four hits and a walk and striking out two. He picked up the loss and is 6-5 with a 3.50 ERA this year.

Meanwhile, Jacksonville used four pitchers over the seven-inning game, scattering five hits and two walks that led to Pensacola’s two runs, and striking out seven.

Blandino finished the year as one of the hottest hitters in the Pensacola lineup. He earned a hit in 13 of the the last 15 games and three homers, including two against Jacksonville. He batted .367 going 18-49 with 18 RBIs, including two 4-RBI games.

The Cincinnati first round pick in 2014 has 22 doubles in the first half this year, which is just three off his best season when he had 25 in 2015 between High-A Daytona Tortugas and Double-A Pensacola.

Blue Wahoos And Jacksonville Rained Out

June 18, 2017

The scheduled Pensacola Blue Wahoos and Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp game Saturday was rained out for the third time this series.

The Southern Division champion Blue Wahoos and Jumbo Shrimp are slated to start a seven-inning doubleheader at 12:05 p.m. CST Sunday.

Pensacola leads the five-game series, 2-1.

Wahoos Split Double Header With Jumbo Shrimp

June 17, 2017

The Pensacola Blue Wahoos made sure it decisively won its fourth consecutive Southern League half.

Both second baseman Alex Blandino and catcher Adrian Nieto clobbered home runs, as Pensacola downed the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, 9-3, in the first game of a seven-inning doubleheader Friday at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. The Blue Wahoos fell in the second game to the Jumbo Shrimp, 1-0.

Pensacola’s victory in the first game was historic. It ensured that the Blue Wahoos joined the Tennessee Smokies, who also won four consecutive halves from 2009 to 2011. There was no celebration after the first game just high fives as the team remained focused on playing the second game of the seven-inning doubleheader.

Pensacola manager Pat Kelly said he was pleased with his team.

“It’s great,” he said. “The players deserved it they’ve  played extremely well all year. They’ve been in first place every day but about six. Just a terrific performance. Again, good pitching and we got some really timely hitting in that first game.”

Cincinnati Reds right-hander Brandon Finnegan made his second MLB rehab assignment for Pensacola with the first half title on the line. He’s recovering from a strained left trapezius, which he sustained April 15.

The 24-year-old threw four scoreless innings, allowed one hit and struck out four Jacksonville hitters Friday. In his two starts for the Blue Wahoos, Finnegan has thrown seven scoreless innings, given up two hits, walked one and struck out five.

Pensacola split Friday’s doubleheader and is 40-28 on the year. The second place Biloxi Shuckers (34-31) scheduled seven-inning doubleheader Friday with the Mobile BayBears was rained out.

Before his injury, Finnegan, a first round pick in 2014, was 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA and had 14 strikeouts in 10 innings. In his three seasons with the Reds, he is 13-13 in 38 starts with a 3.94 ERA.

Pensacola middle reliever Ariel Hernandez earned the victory in one inning of relief of Finnegan and is 2-0 with a 2.18 ERA.

Nieto hit his third homer of the season, a solo shot to left center field. He was 3-4 in the game with two runs scored. Blandino smashed a two-out, three-run bomb in the fifth inning and now has 30 RBIs. He is second on the team behind right fielder Aristides Aquino, who singled in a run in the first game Friday and has 34 this season.

In the second game, Pensacola ace Tyler Mahle started the game. He pitched three innings and gave up the only run in the game on four hits and struckout three. Mahle took the loss and is 7-3 with a 1.59 ERA in the first half of the season.

Mahle gave up a two-out triple to right field to Jacksonville third baseman Brian Anderson in the bottom of the third innings. The extra-base hit scored Jumbo Shrimp pitcher Mike Kickham, who had singled to center, for a 1-0 lead. Kickham earned the win and is 4-3 with a 2.26 ERA. He is also 5-13 at the plate, hitting .385.

Wahoos Beat Jacksonville 1-0 In Rain Shortened Game

June 16, 2017

Pensacola Blue Wahoos pitcher Keury Mella gave up one hit in five scoreless innings of a rain-shortened game, plus the 23-year-old knocked in the only run of the game.

Pensacola defeated the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, 1-0, Thursday at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. The Blue Wahoos’ ninth shutout win of the year was called in the top of the sixth with one out — a strikeout by Pensacola catcher Adrian Nieto.

Mella gave up his only walk in the top of the first inning to leadoff hitter Jeremias Pineda. The only hit Mella allowed came in the top of the second inning when Jacksonville first baseman Taylor Ard knocked a single to left field to leadoff the inning. Ard was also the only Jumbo Shrimp batter to reach second base.

Mella, who is in his first season in Double-A, then retired the next 11 of 12 batters he faced. He improved to 2-4 with a 4.35 ERA.

Plus, Mella, who is ranked the 19th best prospect in the Cincinnati Reds organization, hit a first pitch ground ball that deflected off the third baseman and continued into left field. The two-out single drove in Pensacola catcher Adrian Nieto for a 1-0 lead.

Blue Wahoos left fielder Tyler Goeddel led the Blue Wahoos lineup going 3-3 with a double. Goeddel’s three hits were half of Pensacola’s six total hits.

Pensacola center fielder Gabriel Guerrero also earned a hit, going 1-3, and second baseman Alex Blandino got the other hit for the Blue Wahoos, hitting 1-2 with a walk.

The Blue Wahoos improved to 39-27 and can clinch the Southern League South Division crown with a win in Friday’s scheduled doubleheader or with a loss by the Biloxi Shuckers. Pensacola is vying to join the Tennessee Smokies, who won four consecutive halves from 2009 to 2011.

Pensacola and Jacksonville will try again Friday to play a seven-inning doubleheader to make up for the rain out of the second game Thursday.

Northview Chiefs Release Revised Fall Football Schedule After Cancellation

June 15, 2017

Northview High School has released a revised fall football schedule after a cancellation.

Lighthouse Christian School canceled an August 18 preseason Kickoff Classic with the Chiefs. Northview will now travel to Vernon August 18 for their Kickoff Classic preseason game.

The revised varsity and junior varsity schedules for the Northview Chiefs are as follows:

NorthEscambia.com file photo.

Wahoos Beat The Braves

June 14, 2017

Baseball experts may want to rethink sticking Pensacola Blue Wahoos hurler Luis Castillo in the bullpen.

All he did Tuesday was throw a two-hitter over eight scoreless innings, walk one and strike out a career-high 13 as Pensacola beat the Mississippi Braves, 5-0, in front of 3,989 at Blue Wahoos Stadium.

The Blue Wahoos captured the series, 4-1, by earning its eighth shutout of  the season. It was Pensacola’s seventh consecutive series win, which ties a franchise record.

Pensacola manager Pat Kelly said the pitching coach Danny Darwin is good at teaching the slider, which Castillo attested to after Tuesday’s game through Blue Wahoos catcher Adrian Nieto who served as the interpreter for the Dominican right-hander.

“He’s been traded a couple times and we wonder why?” Kelly said. “The Marlins told us they didn’t think he was a starter that he was a reliever. That (slider) is going to make the difference. He can start in any league.”

Castillo laughed and said “hands down” that he wants to be a starter, not a reliever. The Cincinnati Reds picked him up from the Miami Marlins in January after he was named that organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2016.

“I’m very happy about it,” he said about his outing Tuesday. “I felt locked in from the beginning with all my pitches working. I was very focused on having a good outing.”

Castillo, ranked by MLB Pipeline.com as the seventh best prospect in the Cincinnati Reds organization, struck out five hitters in a row at one point. Pensacola’s record for strikeouts in a game is 15, which Tony Cingrani did June 27, 2012 against the Jackson Generals.

The 24-year-old Castillo, who retired 15 of the first 16 batters he faced, won his third start in a row to improve to 4-3 and lowered his ERA to 2.68.

In his last three starts, Castillo has now struck out 31 and walked four over 19 innings. He jumped from 11th in strikeouts in the Southern League to fifth with 76 total this season.

Castillo displayed hitting and running skills, too. He is 3-14 this season and scored his first run of the year. He knocked a ground ball back up the middle — the second hit off of Mississippi starter Luiz Gohara — and hustled from second to score on a single slapped into right field by third baseman Josh VanMeter to give Penacola a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning.

“He’s deceptively very athletic,” Kelly said. “People don’t realize it. But he runs well shagging balls in the outfield (during batting practice).”

Pensacola ended up batting around in the fifth inning to go ahead, 3-0, getting three walks and two singles. Blue Wahoos center fielder Gabriel Guerrero hit a tapper to shortstop and left fielder Tyler Goeddel beat the throw to home for the second run. The final run in the fifth came when VanMeter scored when second baseman Alex Blandino walked with the bases loaded.

The Blue Wahoos added two more runs in the seventh inning when left-handed hitting first baseman Eric Jagielo jacked a two-run shot to the opposite field. He now has five home runs and 19 RBIs on the season.

Mississippi’s Gohara, who is from Tupa, Brazil, earned the loss to fall to 0-1 in his fourth start in Double-A. The 20-year-old, who Baseball America ranked the No. 3 prospect last year in the Seattle Mariners organization, gave up three runs on three hits and four walks in 4.1 innings and struck out three.

Mississippi couldn’t generate any runs off the Blue Wahoos pitching staff in the five-game series, which featured MLB rehab starts by Cincinnati Reds starters Homer Bailey and Brandon Finnegan. The scored six runs in five games.

One key was keeping the hot-hitting 19-year-old Mississippi outfielder Ronald Acuna off the bases. He entered the series batting .354 but went 2-20 and struck out 10 times as the Blue Wahoos pitching pounded fastballs outside. His average fell to .316.

Pensacola, which has the top team ERA in the Southern League at 2.79, travel to play the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp for the last five-game series of the first half.

The Blue Wahoos are 38-27 and are up four games with five to go in the Southern League South Division. Pensacola hopes to clinch the first half crown and join the Tennessee Smokies who won four consecutive halves from 2009 to 2011.

“These guys have worked exceptionally hard,” Kelly said about his team that he has coached the past three years. “I think they deserve it.”

Blue Angels Spark Blue Wahoos 8-1 Win Over The Braves

June 13, 2017

Many of the players and coaches of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos have been long-time fans of the Blue Angels.

Monday the two teams got a chance to visit in the clubhouse, the weight room and in the batting cage on “Blue Angels in the Outfield” night at the ballpark.

More than 40 U.S. Navy’s flight demonstration team members turned out to sign autographs before the game. Fans swarmed the Blue Angels and then stuck around to watch the Pensacola Blue Wahoos beat the Mississippi Braves 8-1.

It was the largest Monday night crowd this season with 4,678 packing  Blue Wahoos Stadium.

Alex Blandino, who tied his career-high with four RBIs, said he remembered watching the Blue Angels’ show in the San Francisco bay area as a boy.

“That was really special for them to see us out here today,” Blandino said. “It got us so fired up. It gave us an extra boost today.”

Blandino sent a double streaking through the air that flew over the left fielder’s head for a two-out double that cleared the bases in the fourth inning and put the Blue Wahoos ahead, 3-0. It was his Southern League-leading 20th double of the season. In the sixth inning, he drove in Pensacola left fielder Aristides Aquino on a ground out. The last time he had four RBIs was Sept. 1, 2014 with the Low-A Dayton Dragons.

For the last month, Blandino has batted sixth and increased his RBI total to 26, which is second on the team behind Aquino who has 32.

Pensacola manager Pat Kelly said it’s a key spot in the lineup to drive in runs.

“He has done a great job and really taken advantage of it the last six weeks,” Kelly said.

Meanwhile, Pensacola starting pitcher Deck McGuire had fun on Blue Angels night. He got to meet many members of the team, plus he threw a one-hitter in seven scoreless innings and tied his season-high with nine strikeouts.

He laughed as he ran out onto the field through a high-five tunnel formed by all the Blue Angels at the game. One of them cracked, “Be gentle! He’s got to pitch.”

“It was a cool thing to be a part of in this city,” McGuire said.

The 27-year-old McGuire said he had fun the rest of his start, which was his 175th appearance in his professional career.

He bounced back after giving up 11 earned runs and 12 hits in 10 innings in his last two starts.

“I beat myself up pretty bad, so I was trying to focus on going out and having fun,” said McGuire, who gave up a single to Mississippi’s leadoff hitter Luis Valenzuela. The Braves had runners on first and second with no outs, but McGuire got the No. 2, 3 and 4 hitters out in order.

Mississippi left-handed starter Max Fried had a perfect game for the first 3.1 innings. Aquino got the first hit of the game when he singled sharply to left field to load the bases. Aquino also crushed his fourth triple of the season off the wall in the right-center gap to drive in center fielder Gabriel Guerrero to give the Blue Wahoos a 4-0 lead. He was 2-4 on the night with two runs scored.

Pensacola clinched the series, 3-1, and improved to 37-27 and are now up four games with seven to go in the Southern League South Division. They have a chance to clinch the team’s fourth straight half, if they beat Mississippi Tuesday and the Biloxi Shuckers lose. The Tennessee Smokies did that last in the 2009 to 2011 seasons.

Not only did Pensacola win Monday, but they strengthened their tie with the Blue Angels, who had nine members of its crew throw out first pitches to nine Blue Wahoos players. Over the years, the Double-A affiliate has partnered with the Blue Angels, flying in Fat Albert among other things.

The Blue Wahoos have a fan in Lt. Joe Hontz, the Blues public affairs officer.

“This is great stuff,” Hontz said. “The community supports us and the Blue Wahoos so well. The Blue Wahoos are a great organization.”

Wahoos 3-1 Over Braves

June 12, 2017

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Brandon Finnegan set the tone for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos pitching staff, throwing three scoreless innings in his first Major League rehabilitation assignment with the Double-A club.

For the game, three Pensacola pitchers combined to allow one run on three hits in a, 3-1, victory over the Mississippi Braves in front of 4,343 at Blue Wahoos Stadium. Pensacola leads the series, 2-1.

But the 24-year-old Finnegan’s best performance came before his first pitch when he autographed the jerseys of two youth baseball players, who stood by his side on the mound during the national anthem.

“The kids are what’s it for,” said the left-hander. “I was a kid once and I always wanted autographs.”

He made his autographs even more special by fighting the humidity to complete three scoreless innings, allowing a double to 19-year-old center fielder Ronald Acuna, giving up one walk and earning one K. He threw 35 pitches, 23 for strikes.

Finnegan is doing his rehab for a strained left trapezius, which he sustained April 15. Before his injury, Finnegan, a first round pick in 2014, was 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA and had 14 strikeouts in 10 innings.

“I definitely feel close (to returning to Cincinnati),” he said. “I was hoping they would let me go out for another one. I’ll go four innings next time, hopefully.”

His next start will come in the third game in the Blue Wahoo’s last five game series before the All-Star break. Pensacola is on the road against the Miami Marlins Double-A affiliate the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp.

After coming from the Reds training camp in Goodyear in the Arizona desert, Finnegan said he did have to fight the humidity in the Florida coastal town.

“I haven’t pitched in this kind of humidity for a long time,” Finnegan said. “It affected my off-speed a lot. I couldn’t get a grip and throw it.”

Pensacola manager Pat Kelly, who was ejected for the second time this season, said Finnegan got stronger as the game progressed. Finnegan admitted he was anxious about the start.

“He got better every inning,” Kelly said. “That first inning he felt his way through. He was more confident in the second and third. In the third inning, the ball came out really nice.”

Finnegan’s battery mate, Adrian Nieto, who played 48 games with the Chicago White Sox in 2014, not only caught the game but figured in two of the Blue Wahoos’ three runs.

Nieto, a switch hitter who got some rare at bats from the right side, singled to right field to drive in second baseman Alex Blandino in the fourth inning to put Pensacola back on top, 2-1. Blandino had doubled and now leads the Southern League with 19.

Nieto tripled to lead off the seventh inning when he smashed a grounder into the right field corner. It was the sixth triple of his career. The 27-year-old catcher crossed the plate when left fielder Tyler Goeddel hit a two out single to right field to give the Blue Wahoos a, 3-1, cushion over Mississippi.

Both Finnegan and series-opener starter Homer Bailey, who is also doing MLB rehab for elbow surgery to remove bone spurs, got the message that the Blue Wahoos are in a tight playoff race. They improved to 36-27 and are now up four games with seven to go in the Southern League South Division.

“We are all aware of what’s at stake,” Nieto said. “(Pitching coach) Danny (Darwin) said, ‘Hey, don’t mess us up. We’re in a playoff race.”

Mississippi scored in the fourth when Braves third baseman Travis Demeritte scored on a ground ball by left fielder Jared James to tie the game, 1-1.

Demeritte was caught sleeping at second base by Nieto, the catcher. Demeritte took off for third and it looked like the throw from shortstop Blake Trahan to third baseman Josh VanMeter got him out but he was called safe. Pensacola manager Pat Kelly jogged out onto the field to argue the call vigorously and ended up getting ejected.

Pensacola had taken the lead, 1-0, when VanMeter walked with two outs and then the next batter, center fielder Gabriel Guerrero, crushed a double into the left-center gap, allowing VanMeter to score from first base.

Mississippi Braves starter Kolby Allard, who Baseball America rates as the No. 3 prospect in the Atlanta Braves organization, won his first four starts but has two losses and two no decisions in his last four starts.

The 19-year-old Allard, the 14th pick overall in the 2015 draft by the Braves, pitched six innings, allowing two runs on four hits and three walks and struck out one. He got the loss and is now 4-4 with a 2.88 ERA.

Tate, Northview Players Named To All-State Softball Teams

June 11, 2017

Miracle Sports, the official website of Florida high school softball, has named several Tate and Northview players to their 2017 all-state teams.

The Escambia County area’s only First Team players are in Class 7A with senior outfielder Hayden Lindsay and sophomore utility player Shelby Ullrich, both Tate Aggies. The Aggies also had junior pitcher Hannah Brown named to the 7A Second Team and a Honorable Mention placement by Belle Wolfenden.

In 1A, Northview pitcher Tori Herrington and senior outfielder Peighton Dortch were named 1A Second Team, while Chiefs Kendall Enfinger, Aubree Love and Jamia Newton received honorable mentions.

CLASS 7A

First Team
OF ­Hayden Lindsay, Tate
UTIL Shelby Ullrich, Tate

Second Team
P Hannah Brown,  Tate

Honorable Mention
Belle Wolfenden, Tate

Class 1A

Second Team
P Tori Herrington, Northview
OF Peighton Dortch, Northview

Honorable Mention
Kendall Enfinger,  Northview
Aubree Love, Northview
Jamia Newton, Northview

Pictured top: Northview High School’s Tori Herrington. NorthEscambia.com file photo, click to enlarge.

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