FCA Presents Extra Inning Awards

May 3, 2016

The Northwest Florida Fellowship of Christian Athletes named their Extra Inning winners from area softball and baseball teams Monday night at the First Baptist Church of Pensacola.  Winners included Northview Softball’s Hanna Ging, Tate Softball’s Ashley Barnett and Tate Baseball’s AJ Gordon. Pictured inset: Barnett and Tate Softball Coach Melinda Wyatt.  Photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

(A complete winners list was not available Monday night.)

B’ham Beats The Wahoos

May 2, 2016

It appeared Pensacola would tie the game in the ninth with runners on second and third and one out.

However, Blue Wahoos second baseman Alex Blandino flew out to Birmingham left fielder Eudy Pina who threw a strike to catcher Jeremy Dowdy to get Pensacola’s Zach Vincej out at home for a game-ending double play. Vincej singled to start the ninth inning.

The Baron’s held on to win the game, 6-4, on the spectacular defensive play and clinched the five-game series, 3-1, at Regions Field.

The Barons went up, 6-2, in the seventh inning when DH Josh Richmond doubled to left field to score first baseman Nicky Delmonico.

However, Pensacola came right back in the eighth inning when right fielder Phillip Ervin hit a two-out, two-run home run to right center field to bring in Eric Jagielo and pull the Blue Wahoos within striking distance, 6-4.

Ervin was 1-4 on the day and hit his second homer in two days. He now leads Blue Wahoos with three on the year. Last season, he hit 14 home runs total between High-A Daytona Tortugas and Double-A Pensacola to lead all Cincinnati Reds minor leaguers.

Barons left-handed pitcher David Holmberg threw seven innings and gave up two earned runs on five hits and one walk, while striking out four. He won his first game this season and is 1-2.we

Birmingham improved to 10-14 on the year, while Pensacola fell to 13-11 on the year.

Meanwhile, Pensacola righty Nick Travieso pitched 4.1 innings, allowing five earned runs. He fell to 1-1 with a 4.50 earned-run average on the season. He allowed four hits, walked three and struck out six.

Pensacola first baseman Brandon Dixon, who was 1-3, also homered to left field to lead off the seventh inning and pull the Blue Wahoos within, 5-2.

Pensacola left fielder Tony Renda went 2-4 with two doubles Sunday. His line drive double to right field in the first inning scored center fielder Beau Amaral to put the Blue Wahoos ahead, 1-0.

Barons catcher Jeremy Dowdy hit his second homer of the series when he hit a liner over the left field wall in the bottom of the third inning to tie the score, 1-1.

Birmingham scored two more runs after that when shortstop Eddy Alvarez singled to center field to score center fielder Adam Engel to put the Barons on top, 2-1. A passed ball allowed by Pensacola catcher Joe Hudson then allowed Alvarez to score, making it 3-1.

DH Josh Richmond hit a two-out single to left field in the fifth inning that drove in Engel and left fielder Eudy Pina, extending Birmingham’s lead to 5-1.

Birmingham, Pensacola Split Doubleheader

May 1, 2016

Pensacola right fielder Phillip Ervin scored three times in game two of a doubleheader, including the winning run in the seventh inning, as the Blue Wahoos split a Saturday doubleheader with the Birmingham Barons.

Pensacola won the second game, 5-2, at Regions Field, after dropping its second straight game to Birmingham in the first game, 8-3. Pensacola is now 13-10 and in second place in the Southern League South Division, while Birmingham is 9-14 and in fourth place in the North Division.

Ervin, who played college baseball at Samford University in Birmingham, put on a show for old friends and fans going 3-4, scoring five runs, hitting a solo home run-his second of the season-and stealing his ninth base, which is fourth best in the Southern League. He is now hitting .239 and has a .363 on-base percentage.

When the Cincinnati Reds chose Ervin in the first round in 2013, he became the first baseball player ever drafted out of the private university. The 23-year-old, who is the Cincinnati Reds No. 17 prospect, was born in Mobile and lists his hometown as Leroy, Ala., a town of less than 1,000 residents about 60 miles north of Mobile.

In the second game, Ervin, who stole third, scored when second baseman Zach Vincej hit a soft liner to center field in the fourth inning to put the Blue Wahoos ahead, 1-0.

In the fifth inning, Ervin smacked a solo home run deep to left field to give Pensacola a 2-0 lead.

But Birmingham tied the score, 2-2, in the bottom of the sixth inning when left fielder Eudy Pina singled to shortstop, which scored center fielder Adam Engel. Pina then scored the second run on a ground out by third baseman Trey Michalczewski.

The Baron’s Engel made up for an error in the seventh inning on Ervin’s hit to center field by throwing out Pensacola’s Eric Jagielo at home plate. However, with one out first baseman Brandon Dixon then hit a two-run double to left to score both Ervin, with what turned out to be the winning run, and left fielder Tony Renda to give the Blue Wahoos a 4-2 lead. Dixon stole third base and scored on a wild pitch with two to put Pensacola up, 5-2, which was the final margin of victory.

Blue Wahoos pitcher Rookie Davis continued his hot start this season. He pitched five scoreless innings, giving up two hits and striking out one and lowered his earned-run average to 0.78.

Pensacola reliever Alejandro Chacin earned his first Double-A victory (1-0) pitching the last 1.1 innings. In his eighth appearance on the year, he gave up two hits and struck out four. He has now struck out 14 hitters in 9.1 innings this year.

In the first game, Birmingham scored the final six runs to win, 8-3, over Pensacola.

Pensacola first baseman Donald Lutz knocked in all three of Pensacola’s runs in the first game of the doubleheader and got on base all three times. Lutz, who’s batting .164 this season, blasted a two-out, two-run home run to center field in top of the second inning. His first dinger of the season came in his 55th at bat this season. Lutz’s homer scored Ervin, who singled to lead off the inning.

Lutz also tripled in the fourth inning with two out to again drive in Ervin, who was hit by a pitch, and put Pensacola ahead, 3-2. It would be the Blue Wahoos last run of the shortened seven-inning game.

Birmingham catcher Jeremy Dowdy led the Baron’s doubling in two runs with the bases loaded in the fourth inning to put Birmingham ahead, 4-2, for good. Dowdy also hit his first homer of the season in the sixth inning that brought in second baseman Joey DeMichele, giving the Baron’s its second consecutive victory in the five-game series. For the game, Dowdy was 2-3 with a double, home run, run scored and four RBIs.

Tate Wins Regional Quarterfinal

April 28, 2016

The Tate High Aggies won the regional quarterfinal Wednesday night 4-2 over Navarre. The Aggies are headed to the regional semifinals as they host Milton on Tuesday.

Trace Penton  gave up just two hits, allowed no earned runs, walked one and struck out two during his three innings of work. Jake Davis pitched the win. He allowed two runs over four innings. He struck out three, walked two and surrendered three hits.

Tate hitters – Mason Land 2-3 R; Logan McGuffey 1-2 HR, RBI, R; Logan Blackmon 1-3 RBI.

Ernest Ward’s Dive Team Places At County Championship

April 27, 2016

The Ernest Ward Middle School Dive Team earned a second and a 10th place finish during the Escambia County Diving Championships at Washington High School.

The Ernest Ward Dive Team consisted of just two team members — Jayda Crabtree and Louis Crabtree III. Jayda placed 2nd, with a total score of 154.95. Louis placed 10th with a score of 114.60. Their scores will be added to Ernest Ward’s County Girls and Boys Swim Teams final score.

There were a total of 29 divers in the competition.

Pictured: Ernest Ward Middle School Dive Team Coach Randy Sanderson, Jayda Crabtree, Coach Betty Coon, Louis Crabtree III. Submitted photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Jackson Wins Finale 5-3 Over The Blue Wahoos

April 27, 2016

Coming off Tommy John surgery, Cincinnati Reds starter Homer Bailey consistently threw his fastball in the 93-95 mph range in his second rehab start in the minor leagues against the Jackson Generals.

Jackson, though, ended Pensacola’s three game winning streak by taking the final game of the series, 5-3, in front of 3,317 at Admiral Fetterman Field at Blue Wahoos Stadium. The Blue Wahoos won the third of four series to start this year. Pensacola won the series, 3-2, with its win Monday night.

Bailey’s first pitch was 94 mph. But he did give up a first inning run when Jackson center fielder Guillermo Heredia, who was hit in the back of his shoulder on a 93 mph fastball, scored on left-handed hitting Leon Landry’s single to left field where the shortstop normally plays but the Blue Wahoos had shifted right, expecting Landry to pull the ball.

It would be Jackson’s only earned run in the first three innings.

The normally error-proof Pensacola defense, the best in the Southern League, made five errors in the second and third innings to make four of Jackson’s five runs unearned. The defensive meltdown happened behind Bailey’s second rehab pitching assignment and led to three unearned runs in the third and one unearned run in the second inning, putting Jackson on top, 5-2.

Bailey didn’t blame the Blue Wahoos defense, though, whose previous high was two errors this season in a game against Jackson. They had nine errors total coming into the final game of the series.

“I would say this one was a bit uglier,” said Bailey. “I wouldn’t say it was a smooth four innings. We had some obstacles we had to overcome.”

Bailey gave up six hits, five runs, one earned, walked two and struck out three in his four innings of work. Bailey, who hasn’t pitched a Major League game in almost a year, threw 78 pitches total.

Pensacola manager Pat Kelly shrugged off his young defense’s uncharacteristic showing.

“Those things happen,” Kelly said. “We really put (Bailey) in a bad spot having to throw so many additional pitches.”

Bailey, who has a career 58-51 record in nine major league seasons with two no-hitters, said he looks forward to returning to the Cincinnati starting rotation and picking up where he left off before two seasons of injuries. He got two starts last season and then was out in September 2014 after a torn flexor tendon.

“It’s been a long road that we could talk about for an hour,” Bailey said about his recovery. “I’m just trying to build up my endurance and trying to stay sharp. I’m looking forward to getting back to Great American Ballpark and being with guys I’ve played with the last five or six years. We’re holding our own and doing a lot better than people thought we would this season.”

Bailey was the second Reds pitcher to get a start in the series against Jackson. On Sunday, Anthony DeSclafini started his first rehab game, as he recovers from an oblique strain suffered in Spring Training. Bailey threw in Louisville April 21 and expects to throw one more game in the minors before returning to the Reds rotation.

Kelly said Bailey and DeSclafini may pay off for his strong pitching that leads the Southern League with a 2.24 ERA. But he would have liked to stick with his rotation.

“It probably pays off at the end of the season with all that time off,” he said. “I have five major league pitchers playing for me already, as far as I’m concerned. I’ll take my five and go to the big leagues tomorrow. You can’t beat what they’ve done.”

This series it was the Blue Wahoos hitting that carried the day. It hit .189 in its 5-game losing streak and averaged 1.4 runs per game, including losing back-to-back 1-0 games to the Biloxi Shuckers and Jackson Generals.

But the Blue Wahoos hit 32-102 or .314 during its three-game winning streak over Jackson, and scored 8.3 runs per game. For the series, it hit .287 against Jackson pitching.

Molino Hots Shots 12U Softball Teams Wins Tiger Point Championship

April 26, 2016

The Molino Hot Shots 12U girls softball team recently won the 12U B Tiger Point Mid Season Tournament championship. The team is sponsored by the Molino Volunteer Fire Department. Submitted photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Blue Wahoos Take Series Over Generals

April 26, 2016

The Pensacola Blue Wahoos finally gave Amir Garrett his first Double-A victory by knocking three dingers and scoring nine runs Monday at Blue Wahoos Stadium.

Garrett left the game to a standing ovation from the crowd of 3,512, as he retired the last 12 batters he faced in the Blue Wahoos third straight victory over the Jackson Generals, 9-3.

“I didn’t even know what to do,” Garrett said sheepishly. “Do I throw my hands up and wave to the crowd? The Blue Wahoos fans really love baseball and they really love the Blue Wahoos. I appreciate that.”

Garrett, who is 1-2 in four starts with a 1.46 ERA, finally got some run support from his teammates this season. The southpaw, who is the Cincinnati Reds No. 3 prospect, has allowed four earned runs in 24.2 innings pitched but the Blue Wahoos have backed him up with just three runs until Monday’s outburst.

“It’s a big thing to get that first win in Double-A,” said Garrett, who had season-highs of 6.2 innings pitched and nine strikeouts. He allowed just two hits. “I’m really happy. When we get on the board first, I’m very confident I can win the ballgame. These guys will come around most of the time for me. I’ll bet on that.”

The floodgates opened Monday with Pensacola winning its third straight game by having its first multiple home run game of the season. They blasted three with center fielder Tony Renda, right fielder Phillip Ervin and left fielder Sebastian Elizalde all knocking it out on a windy night at Blue Wahoos Stadium.

Pensacola manager Pat Kelly said he’s confident with the team’s strong starting rotation that the Blue Wahoos can’t lose, if they hit like they have this series. The Blue Wahoos clinched the five-game series with Jackson by going up, 3-1, after breaking out with 32 hits in 102 at bats for a .314 batting average the past three games. That comes after hitting .167 in its last series against the Biloxi Shuckers on the road.

“With our pitching we just need a few runs,” Kelly said. “(Garrett) was super. He got stronger as the game went along.”

One of Garrett’s biggest strikeouts came in the fifth inning when he showed some emotion after striking out Jackson catcher Steve Baron after five foul balls and eight pitches. His career-high is 12 strikeouts, which he did last year with the High-A Daytona Tortugas and for the first time in 2013 with the Low-A Dayton Dragons.

“I threw everything at him but the kitchen sink,” Garrett said. “He was pushing my pitch count up. He’s a great hitter. These guys are more advanced. They don’t swing at too many pitches.”

Elizalde, who went 2-4 with a double, home run and four RBIs, said he was happy that the offense came through for Garrett. Elizalde, who hit his second home run this series, extended his hitting streak to a team-high nine games this season and is now 9-22, batting .409 during his streak.

“(Garrett) was really aggressive early in the count and was in a good groove,” said Elizalde, who extended his hitting streak to nine games. “I’m definitely happy we could help him get that first win.”

Pensacola right fielder Phillip Ervin started a two-out two run rally in the bottom of the first inning when he lined a stand up double to left field. Third baseman Eric Jagielo followed with a walk. That’s when left fielder Elizalde crushed a fly ball over Jackson center fielder Guillermo Heredia head that he chased down at the warning track, allowing both Ervin and Jagielo to score and put the Blue Wahoos up, 2-0.

Again in the second inning the Blue Wahoos scored two runs with two outs. Pensacola shortstop Calten Daal, playing in his first game after suffering a concussion in the season opener when a pitch hit him in the head, singled to center field. Center fielder Tony Renda then sent the ball over the left field wall for a two-out, two-run homer putting Pensacola up, 4-0.

Pensacola’s Ervin generated a run in the third inning when he walked to lead off the third inning, stole second base, went to third on a Jagielo sacrifice fly ball to right field, and scored when Elizalde hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield, giving the Blue Wahoos a 5-0 lead.

Wahoos Win Over Jax

April 25, 2016

Pensacola scored four runs in the fourth inning with Ray “The Mayor” Chang getting the clutch double that put the Blue Wahoos ahead for good Sunday, 3-2, against the Jacksonville Generals at Blue Wahoos Stadium.

His game-winning hit came in front of a sellout crowd of 5,038, who watched Pensacola go on to win 6-3 and improve to 11-7 this season. Pensacola now has sold out five of its eight home games and four in a row.

The 32-year-old Chang, who is an 11-year veteran, earned the nickname from his young teammates last season and this year’s young team has made it stick.

Another nickname for Chang could be Mr. Clutch. The first baseman went 3-4 with a run scored, a double and two RBIs Sunday and earlier this season, he had his second walk-off hit for the Blue Wahoos.

After Sunday’s game, The Mayor now leads the Blue Wahoos in batting average at .345 and is second on the team with eight RBIs in 10 games this season, so far.

“It started last year and I guess the more years I come here I’ll here it more often than not,” said Chang, who has four seasons under his belt in Pensacola.

Blue Wahoos manager Pat Kelly has come to rely on the veteran when the second place team in the Southern League South Division needs a hit.

“That was a big double right there,” he said. “It gives us a lead that we hold on to the rest of the way. Chang today did a really nice job.”

Trailing, 2-0, Pensacola came back in the fourth inning with four runs on four hits and a walk to go ahead, 4-2. DH Brandon Dixon drove in third baseman Eric Jagielo on a liner to left field to make the score, 2-1.

Chang then ripped his double that rolled to left field corner after Jackson’s Leon Landry dived for the ball but missed. Both left fielder Tony Renda and Dixon crossed the plate for a 3-2 lead. Pensacola shortstop Zach Vincej added one more run when his sacrifice fly to right field scored Chang for the fourth and final run of the inning.

Pensacola pitcher Nick Travieso took the mound after being reactivated from the disabled list with a pulled groin and three game suspension when umps felt he purposely threw at a batter. He threw four innings and allowed two earned runs on four hits and two walks, while striking out five. His ERA now stands at 2.63 for the season.

“I think he was a little rusty,” Kelly said. “We’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”

Kelly, though, said El’Hajj Muhammad’s 2.1 innings of relief were the most critical, allowing him to rest his other bullpen pitchers.

Muhammad got off to a rocky start allowing three straight singles in the fifth inning by Jackson second baseman Tim Lopes, right fielder Tyler O’Neill and left fielder Leon Landry to load the bases with no outs.

However, Muhammad struck out Generals first baseman D.J. Peterson and then got DH Dan Paolini to hit a bouncer back to him that he threw to catcher Chad Wallach and Wallach threw to first baseman Ray Chang for a double play to end the inning and the scoring threat. Muhammad pumped his fist in excitement after the defensive highlight.

Jackson had scored two runs in the fourth inning to go up, 2-0. The Generals’ Peterson doubled down left field line to score Landry with the first run. Jackson catcher Steve Baron then hit a slow roller that Blue Wahoos pitcher Nick Travieso couldn’t handle, allowing Peterson to score the second run.

Pensacola added two more insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to go ahead, 6-3. Vincej walked to start the inning and scored when Jackson reliever Andrew Kittredge fielded a ground ball and threw wide of first base into the right field bullpen trying to get the Blue Wahoos speedy center fielder Beau Amaral. Second baseman Alex Blandino then hit a grounder into left field that scored Amaral.

Amaral went 0-4 with one run scored to end his eight-game hitting streak. He’s batting .286 on the year.

Wahoos Beat Jackson 10-4

April 24, 2016

Anthony DeSclafani, who was scheduled to be the opening day starter for the Cincinnati Reds, instead got his first start Saturday at the Major League club’s Double-A affiliate the Pensacola Blue Wahoos.

DeSclafani left the game after throwing 61 pitches in four innings in his first rehab assignment from a mild strain of his oblique that he suffered in Spring Training. He was trailing, 3-0, on two home runs crushed by Jackson Generals right fielder Tyler O’Niell.

However, Pensacola ended its five-game skid and 21.1 scoreless innings to steamroll Jackson, 10-4, in front of a sellout crowd of 5,038 at Blue Wahoos Stadium. It was the Blue Wahoo’s fourth sellout in seven home games this season.

Making his first start in Pensacola wasn’t how DeSclafani planned his second season in the big leagues, after becoming the first Reds’ rookie to lead the team in wins (9), starts (31), innings pitched (184.2) and strike outs (151) since Art Fowler in 1954.

“Whether you’re a rookie or not, no one wants to start on the disabled list,” DeSclafani said. “I’m competitive, so not being out there is not fun.”

DeSclafani left two hanging curveballs over the plate and O’Neill blasted both of them out of Blue Wahoos Stadium into the Community Maritime Park. O’Neill’s two-run home run in the first inning cleared Hill-Kelly Hill and walkway in right center field. His second splashed into the Pensacola Bay over the left field wall.

DeSclafani allowed four hits, one walk, struck out five and gave up three earned runs in his four innings of work. His fastball reached 95 mph on the scoreboard radar gun and he also worked on his off-speed pitches. In the first inning, DeSclafani walked Jackson lead-off batter Guillermo Heredia on four straight pitches, and then on three straight pitches he struck out the next batter, second baseman Tim Lopes.

“I felt great,” said DeSclafani, who said his next rehab assignment is at Low-A Dayton. “I was working on all my pitches. I hope Dayton goes well and then I will meet the (Cincinnati) team wherever they’re at.”

Pensacola manager Pat Kelly said he thought DeSclafani looked better on the mound the longer he pitched.

“This is the first time he’s pitched a game,” Kelly pointed out. “He got stronger as he went along.”

DeSclafani said he’s happy with Cincinnati giving all its young talent an opportunity to play for them as they rebuild its team. He was one of nine rookie starters in 2015 and part of the Major League record of 64 consecutive starts by rookie pitchers.

“What a great opportunity this is for all the young players,” DeSclafani said. “The vibe this year has been awesome with all the young guys. A lot of young guys are here (in Pensacola) to start their career and prove they belong in the big leagues. The Reds are giving them that opportunity and it’s great.”

He continued, “I was given that opportunity last year and I’m here again in year two, hopefully, to build on last year and try to establish my career.”

DeSclafani, who played in the Southern League in 2013 and 2014 for the Miami Marlins Double-A affiliate Jacksonville Suns, said he had some fond memories of the Southern League flood his mind during his drive down Pensacola Beach to get a closer look at its world-renowned white sandy beaches.

“I do have flashbacks,” he said. “I faced Jon Moscot in his debut. He got a hit and he hasn’t let me live it down. It was fun being part of that team and the Southern League.”

After hitting .167 against Biloxi and getting shutout, 1-0, in back-to-back games, Pensacola’s bats came to life Saturday.

The team scored nine runs on nine hits in the sixth and seventh innings, sending 20 batters to the plate.

Pensacola shortstop Alex Blandino, who entered the game hitting .103, led the way with a single and two doubles in five at bats and drove in a run. He raised his average to .176.

“It felt great to get those hits and help our team win tonight,” Blandino said. “It’s been tough. Hopefully, we’ll be aggressive and keep rolling, not just me, but our whole lineup.”

Kelly said it was just a matter of time for the team to start hitting. It’s average is .209 on the season.

“We had to break out eventually,” he said. “We couldn’t keep throwing zeros up there.”

Pensacola improved to 10-7 and remains in second place in the Southern League South Division. Jackson’s five-game winning streak ended and fell to 11-5 but is still in first place in the North Division.

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