May 29, 2016
Pensacola Blue Wahoos fans know Phillip Ervin is speedy. After all, he has stolen 19 bases this season, which is tied for third in the Southern League.
However, who knew he was so light on his feet?
Ervin refused to get tagged out in a rundown in the eighth inning that allowed Pensacola third baseman Tony Renda to score the winning run to edge the Birmingham Barons, 5-4, in front of a sellout crowd of 5,038 Saturday at Blue Wahoos Stadium. It was the Blue Wahoos 11th sellout this season.
Ervin, who lost 10 pounds in the offseason, said that’s helped improve his speed and footwork. Ervin was 0-11 in his last three games before going 3-4 and getting on base four times, scoring twice, including the tying run in the sixth inning and knocking in one run.
“I just didn’t want to run into a tag and give (Renda) enough time to score,” Ervin said. “I was trying to get as many throws as possible. The more throws the more chance of getting a mistake. It all worked out in the end.”
Renda, who leads Pensacola with 14 multi-hit games and a .302 average, scored the winning run and Ervin made it to second base when shortstop Eddy Alvarez dropped the ball. The rundown started when right fielder Sebastian Elizalde grounded to the second baseman.
Pat Kelly called the game “ugly.” There was a combined 21 hits, seven walks, seven errors and 21 runners left on base in the three hour and 16 minute game.
“It was an ugly game and we didn’t play very good,” Kelly said. “(Barons pitcher David) Holmberg put the whole ballpark to sleep. We played ugly enough to win.”
Birmingham center fielder Adam Engel takes Blue Wahoos pitcher Nick Travieso over the left field wall in first inning to put the Barons ahead, 1-0.
Then in the bottom of the first inning, Pensacola third baseman Tony Renda led off with a stand-up double to the left center gap and scored on left fielder Phillip Ervin’s line drive single to left to tie the game, 1-1. Ervin then scored after stealing second and third base, his 18th and 19th steals on the season, when DH Donald Lutz hit a sharp liner to center field to put the Blue Wahoos up, 2-1.
Lutz is hitting .368 in his six game hitting streak (7-19) with one RBI, three walks and only four strikeouts. On the year, Lutz, who is coming off Tommy John surgery, is hitting .217.
Birmingham’s starter Holmberg threw 43 pitches in the inning in which he also walked Pensacola first baseman Kyle Parker and hit center fielder Bryson Smith with a pitch. Last season, Holmberg started six games going 1-4 with a 7.62 ERA for Cincinnati Reds last season before being granted free agency.
Birmingham tied the game, 2-2, when Barons first baseman Nick Basto, who singled to right field, scored on a wild pitch by Travieso.
Birmingham loaded bases with one out in the fourth inning and Travieso went to three balls and no strikes on Birmingham third baseman Jake Peter, the No. 3 hitter, and ended up striking him out on a 93 mph heater.
However, right fielder Eudy Pina slapped a grounder to Pensacola’s Renda at third base and he threw it to second baseman Alex Blandino, who dropped the ball and then was slow to pick it up, allowing Barons shortstop Eddy Alvarez and center fielder Adam Engel to score for a 4-2 lead.
Travieso threw 101 pitches over 5.2 innings and gave up 11 hits, four runs, three earned and struck out six. He battled out of jams all night, except in the fifth inning when he retired Birmingham 1-2-3.
Pensacola catcher Joe Hudson launched a deep fly ball for a double over the center fielder’s head in the bottom of the fifth inning that drove in second baseman Zach Vincej, pulling the Blue Wahoos within, 4-3.
Pensacola loaded the bases in the sixth inning and Ervin, who doubled, scored on a wild pitch by Barons reliever Nolan Sanburn to tie the game, 4-4.
The only thing that wasn’t ugly about the game was when center fielder Bryson Smith, who has played parts of the last five seasons with Pensacola, proposed to his girlfriend, the future Raphaelle Smith. Smith got down on one knee after the game and asked for her hand in marriage. Then fireworks went off.
The Blue Wahoos captured its fifth straight five game series at home and improved to 17-7 at Blue Wahoos Stadium. This season, they are 29-20 and remain in first place against the Biloxi Shuckers, who defeated Mobile, 2-1, to improve to 28-21.
May 28, 2016
Pensacola Blue Wahoos’ do-it-all Tony Renda, not only can play nearly every position on the field, he’s also a mathematician.
Renda, who’s batted first in the lineup 15 times this season, singled to start Friday’s game and scored the first run of the game when Blue Wahoos first baseman Kyle Parker knocked him in on a line drive to center field.
Well, Pensacola did go on to win Friday by beating the Birmingham Barons, 9-1, in front of its third straight Friday night sellout of 5,038 fans at Blue Wahoos Stadium.
He made up for going 0-5 the previous game to end his five game hitting streak by going 4-5, all singles, scoring a run, and walking. Renda, who came over in the Cincinnati Reds trade with the New York Yankees for closer Aroldis Chapman, is batting .307 (16-52) when leading off an inning. He leads the Blue Wahoos with a .293 average this season.
He played both second and third base Friday. Renda has been regulated to second base most of his professional career. But he’s played every position except for catcher, pitcher, first base and center field, so far.
“Hey, it’s fun,” he said about playing multiple positions for the Blue Wahoos. “I show up to the park and it’s a guessing game where I’m going to play that day.”
Blue Wahoos team improved to 28-20 and regained sole possession of first place again from the Biloxi Shuckers who dropped to 27-21 with a 1-0 loss to the Mobile BayBears.
Pensacola manager Pat Kelly said Renda always tells him that he’s played the position that he starts him in.
“He gets us going,” Kelly said. “He just sparks our offense and everyone else follows.”
Pensacola jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. After Renda scored when Parker extended his hitting streak to six games, Pensacola center fielder Phillip Ervin, who had walked, scored on a bases-loaded walk by third baseman Eric Jagielo, who was tossed from the game for arguing a third strike call in the fifth inning.
Chicago White Sox No. 1 prospect Carson Fulmer continued to struggle with his control. The eighth pick overall in the 2015 draft, walked seven Pensacola batters in four innings. The Barons pitcher walked eight against the Jackson Generals on May 11. Birmingham pitchers walked 11 total Pensacola batters.
Still the Blue Wahoos had trouble scoring, leaving the bases loaded three times in the first five innings. In all, Pensacola left a season high 14 runners on base.
However, Barrett Astin in his third spot start for the injured Rookie Davis, went five innings and gave up one run on three hits and struck out three. He had no walks. Astin, who started for Pensacola last year, improved to 4-1 on the season with a 3.00 ERA.
“Pitching was the key,” Kelly said. “(Astin) gave up only three hits. It was a nice start.”
Pensacola finally pulled away when it scored three runs in the sixth inning to take a 6-1 lead.
The first run of the inning came when right fielder Sebastian Elizalde scored from third base on a ground out by Pensacola catcher Chad Wallach to make the score, 4-1. Blue Wahoos second baseman Zach Vincej then drove the ball through the left side of the infield to score DH Donald Lutz to go up, 5-1.
Pensacola went ahead, 6-1, when left fielder Jeff Gelalich beat out a bouncer to second base. Barons first baseman Jake Peter turned and fired to his catcher Jeremy Dowdy but Vincej slid around the tag on the bam-bam play.
The hit that gave the Blue Wahoos a big breather, though, came when Wallach capped the game off with a deep three-run shot over the left field fence in the seventh inning. It was his third blast of the year and the Blue Wahoos third homer in the past 11 games. The other two homers shot off the bat of Parker. Pensacola now has 25 home runs this season with 15 coming in May.
May 27, 2016
After the game, Pensacola manager Pat Kelly wanted to know if its 6-4 loss to the Birmingham Barons counted against the Blue Wahoos.
“The Mullets are 0-1,” Kelly said jokingly. “I don’t think it counts against our record.”
Unfortunately, the loss does go in the Blue Wahoos loss column. The team fell into a first place tie with the Biloxi Shuckers at 27-20.
The logo for the Mullet name sported the fish with a mullet leaning up against the letter “P” for Pensacola. In 2012, the fish was one of six finalists for the name of the Cincinnati Reds Double-A affiliate.
The loss spoiled a strong outing by big righty Sal Romano.
Romano got the first five outs of the game on strike outs. He finished with a season-high nine strikeouts and lasted 7 innings for the second time in three games. He walked just one batter. Romano still got a K on a 94 mph fastball in the seventh inning when he struck out Birmingham center fielder Adam Engel.
Kelly said the 21-year-old Romano, the Cincinnati Reds No. 9 prospect, is slowly turning into a pitcher, instead of a thrower.
“The seventh inning might have been his best inning,” Kelly said of Romano, who set the Barons down in order. “It’s small baby steps but he’s not rearing back and throwing as hard as he can. Harder is not always the best.”
Romano said when he takes the mound his goal is to reach the seventh inning. That’s much easier to do with his increasing confidence in his changeup that he has been developing the last few seasons.
“That’s a big thing for me,” he said. “I just said, ‘Let’s bear down here.’ I’m trying to make pitches, not just be a big kid throwing hard.”
Pensacola came back in the bottom of the eighth to make it a one-run game, 5-4, against the Barons, who tied the series, 1-1.
The Mullets loaded the bases on two walks and a single. Pensacola center fielder Phillip Ervin scored on DH Sebastian Elizalde’s ground out and then Mullets first baseman Kyle Parker scored on a wild pitch. Pensacola catcher Chad Wallach, who entered the game in an 0-12 slump, then singled in Mullet’s second baseman Brandon Dixon. Wallach was 2-3, walked and knocked in a run.
Birmingham scored an insurance run in the ninth, however. The Barons added another run in the ninth when Engel singled in Barons shortstop Eddy Alvarez with no outs. With runners on first and third for Birmingham, Pensacola center fielder Bryson Smith caught a fly ball by right fielder Eudy Pina and then threw a perfect strike to Wallach to get Engel out at the plate and prevent more runs from scoring.
“Bryson did a nice job staying back on the ball,” Kelly said.
Also playing well for the one-time Mullets Thursday, was Pensacola first baseman Kyle Parker, who made up for his error by slicing a solo shot over the left field wall just inside the foul pole in the fourth inning to pull the Mullets within, 2-1. Parker got on base three times and scored twice.
Birmingham first baseman Jake Peter also hit his fourth home run of the season on a solo blast in the fifth inning to put the Barons up, 3-1.
May 26, 2016
Jackson Stephens’ family rarely miss his starts, making the five-hour drive from their home in Oxford, Ala., near the Georgia border to Pensacola.
They left the game in good spirits on Wednesday. Their son didn’t walk anybody, plus he improved his record to 4-3 and his ERA dropped to 3.22.
Stephens, coming off of a combined no-hitter against the Jacksonville Suns on May 20, threw another gem. He threw seven scoreless innings allowing five hits and striking out a season-high nine batters for the second time this season. He has now thrown 12 scoreless innings.
Pensacola earned the victory, 5-1, over the Birmingham Barons in the opening game of the five-game series in front of 3,993 fans Wednesday at Blue Wahoos Stadium.
Stephens pumped his fist after getting first baseman Nick Basto to fly out to Donald Lutz in left field to end the seventh inning.
All four of his pitches – a two- and four-seam fastball, curveball and slider – were working for him Wednesday. He said his seven scoreless innings Thursday were similar to his last outing when he pitched five innings without allowing a hit but giving up two walks.
“I’d say they were similar,” said the 21-year-old Stephens. “You’re not going to go out there and throw no hitters all the time. My stuff was there. I was able to get ahead in the pitch count with a lot of early strikes.”
Stephens, who entered the game with opponents hitting .221 off him, limited Birmingham to .192 (5-26) Thursday.
Pensacola manager Pat Kelly also liked what he saw from Stephens, who got ahead of hitters Thursday. Kelly pointed out Stephens threw about 85 pitches in both his five inning outing and Thursday’s seven inning game.
“He’s been throwing bullets but wasting them early in the ball game,” Kelly said. “That’s what he’s got to do.”
Pensacola retook sole possession of first place from the Biloxi Shuckers, who vaulted into the Southern Division lead when they beat the Blue Wahoos April 19. Pensacola is 27-19, while Biloxi is 26-19, after losing to Mobile BayBears, 9-1, Wednesday.
Pensacola’s third baseman Tony Renda doubled to lead off the first inning, went to third on a groundout by center fielder Phillip Ervin and scored on a wild pitch to give the Blue Wahoos a 1-0 lead.
Renda was also involved in the second run scored by the Blue Wahoos, too, in the third inning when he singled to drive in Pensacola catcher Chad Wallach. Renda tried to stretch his single into a double but was thrown out at second base by left fielder Courtney Hawkins.
Kelly was happy with Renda’s aggressiveness against Birmingham starter Tyler Danish, the White Sox No. 11 prospect, who threw a complete game shutout the last time he faced the Blue Wahoos on April 29.
“To scratch out a few runs early was nice,” Kelly admitted. “(Renda) had that big RBI for the second run.”
DH Eric Jagielo hit a two-out blooper to left field in the sixth inning that drove in Kyle Parker, who had singled, to put Pensacola ahead, 3-0.
Dixon got the third straight hit to start the eighth inning to drive in two runs and put Pensacola up, 5-0.
New York Yankee transplants who came over in the Cincinnati Reds trade for closer Ardolis Chapman, Renda and Eric Jagielo led the team at the plate Thursday. Renda hit in his fifth straight game, going 2-4 with a double and one run scored. Meanwhile, Jagielo went 2-4 and drove in the third run off of Birmingham’s Danish.
Jagielo, an All-Star in his previous minor league seasons, is hitting .180 but Kelly expressed confidence in him.
“To me it’s just a relaxation thing,” Kelly said. “When you’re coming to a new organization you want to show everybody what you can do. He looked good tonight.”
May 25, 2016
In a junior varsity quarter, Northview topped Jay 7-0. In a full varsity scrimmage, Northview defeated Jay 34-0.
NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.
May 24, 2016
The Pensacola Blue Wahoos won the final game of its five-game series against the Jacksonville Suns by scoring the winning run in the 10th inning when center fielder Phillip Ervin scored on a fielder’s choice by shortstop Calten Daal.
Pensacola clung to the, 5-4, victory over the Suns Monday at The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville on a game-ending double play with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th inning.
Jacksonville third baseman James Roberts flew out to Blue Wahoos right fielder Brandon Dixon. Dixon then gunned the ball to Pensacola first baseman Kyle Parker, who fired it to Daal covering second base to double up Jacksonville’s Moises Sierra and end the game.
Although Jacksonville won the series, 3-2, the Blue Wahoos kept pace with the Biloxi Shuckers in the Southern League South Division. Despite going, 6-6, in its last 12 games, Pensacola is now 26-19 this season and remains in second place, just a half game behind the Shuckers.
Biloxi lost, 3-2, to the Tennessee Smokies in 12 innings Monday night to fall to 26-18 on the year.
Pensacola’s Daal, who was 2-5 with three RBIs on two doubles, doubled to center field in the eighth inning to drive in first baseman Kyle Parker. Parker scored from second, after stealing his first base of the season, to put the Blue Wahoos up, 4-3.
Daal now has four RBIs on the season and is batting .356 in 20 games with Pensacola.
However, Jacksonville came back to tie the score, 4-4, in the bottom of the eighth to send the game to extra innings. Jacksonville first baseman Chris Curley singled to center field to score Suns left fielder Austin Dean.
Blue Wahoos southpaw Amir Garrett, the Cincinnati Reds No. 3 prospect, did not get the decision but pitched another fabulous game. Garrett is 3-3 with a 1.49 earned-run average this season. He worked a season high 6.2 innings and gave up three runs, one earned on four hits, and two walks.
Garrett struck out seven Jacksonville batters and now has 54 on the season, which ties him for third in the Southern League.
The Blue Wahoos tied the game, 3-3, in the top of the fifth when Ervin hit a two-out single to left field to drive in Tony Renda, who had hit his 13th double of the season to left. Renda, who was playing third base Monday, got one hit in each of the last four games against Jacksonville. He was 4-18 with three runs scored and three RBIs in the series and is batting .281 this season.
Ervin who is hitting .121 this year with runners in scoring position now is tied with Brandon Dixon with 17 RBIs this season for Pensacola.
In the second inning, Pensacola jumped to a 2-0 lead. Pensacola’s Daal doubled to left field to score Parker, who led off the inning with a walk. Blue Wahoos catcher Chad Wallach then smacked a sacrifice fly that drove in Dixon for the second run of the inning.
But Jacksonville came back in the bottom of the inning to score three runs and take the lead. The Suns loaded the bases with two outs when pitcher Patrick Johnson singled on a ground ball to Daal, who threw the ball away. That allowed both first baseman Chris Curley and third baseman James Roberts to score tying the game, 2-2. Wallach then allowed a pass ball on strike out by Suns second baseman Yefri Perez, and center field Jeremias Pineda crossed the plate to put Jacksonville up, 3-2.
May 23, 2016
The Jacksonville Suns won, 6-5, over the Pensacola Blue Wahoos by scoring two runs in the sixth inning thanks to a sacrifice fly and a Blue Wahoos error Sunday at The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.
Jacksonville tied the game, 5-5, when third baseman Avery Romero hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth inning to score right fielder Moises Sierra. Suns catcher Francisco Arcia then put Jacksonville ahead, 6-5, when he scored on a throwing error by Pensacola third baseman Eric Jagielo.
Pensacola overcame a four run deficit to take the lead, 5-4, in the top of the fifth inning when first baseman Kyle Parker hit a two-run home run to center field. Parker’s blast also scored center fielder Phillip Ervin.
The Blue Wahoos got three runs back in the top of the fourth inning to pull within one against Jacksonville when right fielder Brandon Dixon scored on a grounder by shortstop Calten Daal. Pensacola left fielder Tony Renda then singled to left field that scored both Daal and catcher Joe Hudson, pulling Pensacola within, 4-3.
Jacksonville’s Sierra smashed a two-out, three-run homer in bottom of first inning. His homer to left center brought home second baseman J.T. Riddle, who tripled and first baseman Brady Shoemaker, who walked.
Suns Pitcher Jarlin Garcia singled on a ground ball to Blue Wahoos starter Nick Travieso that scored Jermias Pineda, putting Jacksonville up, 4-0, after two innings.
Travieso gave up all four runs to the Suns in the five innings he pitched. He allowed four hits and walked three, while striking out seven. He got a no-decision, however, and remains 3-2 with 41 strikeouts in 37.2 innings pitched.
Jacksonville used five pitchers, giving up five runs, two earned and striking out seven.
Leading Pensacola at the plate was second baseman Alex Blandino, who went 2-5 with a double. He’s batting .286 with one homer and four RBIs in his last eight games. Pensacola left fielder Tony Renda got a hit in his fourth straight game against Jacksonville and is now 4-17 in the series and batting .282 on the season.
May 22, 2016
The Pensacola Blue Wahoos were 0-9 with runners in scoring position and fell, 4-0, Saturday to the Jacksonville Suns at The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.
Although Pensacola lost Saturday and is 5-5 in its last 10 games, they remain tied for first with Biloxi. The Shuckers took over first after beating the Blue Wahoos April 19. The Blue Wahoos are 25-18 on the season in the Southern League South Division, while the Shuckers are 24-17. Biloxi lost to the Tennessee Smokies, 10-9, Saturday when the Smokies scored nine runs in the seventh and eighth to come from behind to win.
Jacksonville got on the scoreboard first. Suns catcher Francisco Arcia singled to right field to drive in first baseman Brady Shoemaker with one out to go up, 1-0.
Suns third baseman James Roberts drew a bases loaded walk with two out in the sixth inning that scored left fielder Austin Dean, giving Jacksonville a 2-0 lead.
The Suns then put the game away in the eighth inning. Cam Maron pinch hit for Jacksonville and singled in Arcia, 3-0, with one out in eighth inning. Jacksonville center fielder Yefri Perez then hit a deep sacrifice fly to center to score James Roberts from third to give Jacksonville, 4-0, lead in eighth.
Jacksonville pitcher Austin Brice 5.2 scoreless innings, allowing five hits and one walk and struck out six. He improved his record to 3-2 and lowered his ERA to 1.99.
Pensacola pitcher Barrett Astin got the spot start and ended up getting his first loss of the season, falling to 3-1. He pitched three innings gave up one hit, one run, walked four and struck out four.
Blue Wahoos third baseman Eric Jagielo led Pensacola at the plate going 2-4. Pensacola left fielder Tony Renda got a hit in his third straight game against Jacksonville and is now 3-12 in the series.
May 21, 2016
Pensacola Blue Wahoos pitchers Jackson Stephens, Matt Magill and Carlos Gonzalez combined on a seven-inning no-hitter Friday against the Jacksonville Suns at The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.
Pensacola won, 6-0, in the second game of a doubleheader as Blue Wahoos starting pitcher Stephens pitched five scoreless innings, allowing no hits, two walks and striking out two. He improved to 3-3 with a 3.74 ERA.
Reliever Matt Magill then threw one inning and struck out the side. Carlos Gonzalez pitched the seven and set the Suns down in order. This was the second no-hitter in team history with the first one in 2012.
Meanwhile, Jacksonville won the first game of Friday’s doubleheader, 4-0, on a three-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning by first baseman Brady Shoemaker followed by a solo shot by right fielder Moises Sierra to left center.
Pensacola is 25-17 and now tied with the Biloxi Shuckers for first place in the Southern League South Division. Pensacola has been chasing Biloxi since it lost to them, 4-3, April 19. Meanwhile, Jacksonville fell to fourth place and is 18-23.
In the second game, Stephens, who’s pitching at the Double-A level for the first time, mowed down the Suns. The 22-year-old has had four two-hitters and one one-hitter in his five years in Minor League Baseball.
Pensacola center fielder Bryson Smith tripled two runs in the top of the third inning to put the Blue Wahoos on top, 2-0. Smith then scored on a sacrifice fly by Tony Renda to right field for a 3-0 lead.
Pensacola added another run in the fourth when first baseman Kyle Parker singled to left field, Brandon Dixon doubled to left field and right fielder Jeff Galalich singled to right field to score Parker and increase the Blue Wahoos’ lead to 4-0.
Pensacola shortstop Alex Blandino added two more runs in the seventh when he singled to right field, scoring both Smith and Renda to score make the final score, 6-0.
In the first game, Jacksonville scored four runs with two outs in the sixth inning. Shoemaker hit a three-run homer that brought in center fielder Yefri Perez and left fielder Austin Dean. Sierra then followed with his blast to left center.
Both home runs came off of Pensacola starter Sal Romano, who gave up seven hits and one walk and struck out five in 5.2 innings. Romano is 1-3 with a 4.74 ERA.
Meanwhile, Suns starter Jake Esch pitched six scoreless innings, giving up four hits and six strikeouts. He improved to 5-4 with a 4.63 ERA.
Leading Pensacola at the plate was Calten Daal, who accounted for three of the Blue Wahoos’ five hits on his 3-3 day at the plate. Second baseman Zach Vincej and center fielder Phillip Ervin each got a hit as both went 1-3. Pensacola was 0-10 with runners in scoring position.
In the second game of the doubleheader, Smith went 1-4 with two runs and two RBIs and Blandino was 2-3 with two RBIs. After hitting .167 in April, Blandino has increased his average to .281 in May.
May 20, 2016
The opening game of the five-game series between the Pensacola Blue Wahoos (24-16) and the Jacksonville Suns (17-22) was rained out Thursday night.
The two Southern League South Division teams will play a doubleheader beginning at 4:05 p.m. Friday at The Baseball Grounds at Jacksonville.
Pitching in the first game will be Blue Wahoos RHP Sal Romano (1-2, 4.50) against Suns Jake Esch (4-4, 5.31). In the second game, Pensacola RHP Jackson Stephens (2-3, 4.23) is schedule against Jacksonville RHP Chris Mazza (1-0, 3.09).
Per Southern League rules both games of the doubleheader will only last seven innings, instead of the regular nine innings.