Wahoos Lose 12-1 To Tennessee In Rain Shortened Game

June 28, 2016

The Chicago Cubs still appear to have plenty of top prospects to look forward to playing for them one day, including Double-A affiliate Tennessee Smokies second baseman Ian Happ and starting pitcher Brad Markey.

Happ went 3-3, including a two-run homer and Markey threw four perfect innings as the Smokies rolled to a 12-1 victory Monday over the Pensacola Blue Wahoos at Smokies Park. The game was shortened to six innings because of rain.

The victory clinched the opening series, 3-2, of the second half of the season for Tennessee and dropped Pensacola’s overall record to 18-21 on the road. At Blue Wahoos Stadium, the Cincinnati Reds Double-A affiliate won all seven series going 24-11.

Happ, the Cubs No. 3 prospect according to MLB.com, went 11-15, or .733 with four multi-hit games in his first five games at the Double-A level with the Smokies. The 21-year-old hit two home runs, drove in six runs and scored six times.

Meanwhile, Tennessee right hander Markey, the No. 29 prospect, threw four perfect innings, striking out two.

But Pensacola right fielder Sebastian Elizalde led off the fifth inning with a double to left field. Blue Wahoos center fielder Brandon Dixon followed with another single on a grounder to left that scored Elizalde to pull Pensacola within, 3-1 — the closest it would get to Tennessee.

Markey threw six innings, allowing four hits and one run, while striking out two. He improved to 6-3 with a 2.34 ERA.

Smokies first baseman Victor Caratini singled on a line drive to right fielder that drove in center fielder Jacob Hannemann to put Tennessee ahead, 1-0, in the first inning.

Tennessee went up, 3-0, in the third inning when Happ hit a two-run homer to right field that also scored Smokies third baseman Chesney Young, who had doubled to right field.

Tennessee then broke the game open in the bottom of the fifth inning sending nine hitters to the plate and scoring four times on four hits and two walks to go ahead, 7-1. The big hit came when Smokies right fielder Billy McKinney, the Cubs No. 6 prospect, drove in three runs when he tripled to right field with the bases loaded on a 1-2 count and two outs. The seventh run of the game came when Tennessee catcher Ben Carhart singled up the middle to score McKinney.

The Smokies sent 10 hitters to the plate in the sixth inning, adding five more runs to go up, 12-1. Tennessee had five singles, a double and a hit batter in the inning.

Elizalde was 5-15 in the series for Pensacola and is hitting .302 on the season. Pensacola second baseman Alex Blandino also hit well going 5-19. Blue Wahoos center fielder Phillip Ervin extended his hitting streak to five games Monday, going 5-17 during that span.

Pensacola has the day off Tuesday and then starts a five-game home series at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday against the Chattanooga Lookouts.

Tennessee Beats Pensacola 3-0

June 27, 2016

The Pensacola Blue Wahoos bats cooled down against the Tennessee Smokies starting pitcher Paul Blackburn.

Blackburn shut down the Pensacola lineup allowing just two hits in six scoreless innings, walking three and striking out five as the Smokies shut out the Blue Wahoos, 3-0, Sunday at Smokies Park.

Blackburn improved to 5-2 with a 2.35 ERA this year.

The only Pensacola hitters to earn hits in the game were shortstop Alex Blandino (1-4), center fielder Jeff Gelalich (1-3 with walk) and Phillip Ervin (1-3 with walk). They are the top three hitters in the order and Pensacola was 3-28 for the game.

Ervin singled on a bunt back to the pitcher and then stole his 22nd base of the year, which is tied for fifth in the Southern League.

The Blue Wahoos are now 2-2 in the second half and 43-31 overall.

Pensacola starting pitcher Jackson Stephens did work 5.1 innings but gave up three runs on seven hits and five walks, while striking out three. He dropped to 5-6 with a 3.19 earned-run average. James Farris relieved Blackburn and threw two scoreless innings and struck out four. The game was closed by Smokies closer Juan Paniagua, who walked one in one inning and earned his fourth save this season.

In the third inning, Tennessee second baseman Ian Happ doubled in center fielder Jacob Hannemann to put the Smokies up, 1-0.

Tennessee left fielder Trey Martin then laid down a squeeze but that scored right fielder Billy McKinney to put the Smokies ahead, 2-0.

The lead extended to, 3-0, over Pensacola when Tennessee catcher Victor Caratini walked to lead off the sixth inning. Caratini then scored on shortstop Daniel Lockhart’s ground ball single to right field.

Pensacola relievers Jacob Ehret, and Evan Mitchell pitched 2.2 innings of scoreless relief giving up one hit and striking out three. Tennessee pitchers combined to retire 12 Pensacola hitters in a row between the fourth and eighth innings.

Northview’s Ward Attending Super Combine In Dallas

June 26, 2016

Luke Ward from Northview High School is attending the Blue-Grey National Super Combine this weekend at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.

Ward led Northview last year with 407 rushing yards, 331 receiving yards and nine touchdowns.

In April, Ward represented the Alabama region as wide receiver and attended the Blue-Grey Combine held at Cramton Bowl, in Montgomery where he earned the broad jump award with the longest distance at 10’0”. He also had a 4.47 recorded time in the 40, and 4.59 in the shuttle.

“It’s a real honor to be selected to participate in this. I’m excited to visit the AT&T Stadium, and I hope to represent my school well.” Ward said.

If Ward performs well enough in Dallas, he will be in position to be selected to play in one of the Blue-Grey National All-American Bowls played and televised at four NFL locations in January.

Wahoos Top Smokies 6-4

June 26, 2016

Pensacola Blue Wahoos starting pitcher Rookie Davis used both his bat and his right arm to overcome the Tennessee Smokies, 6-4, Saturday at Smokies Park.

He gave the Blue Wahoos the lead, 4-3, in the top of the fourth when he hit a sacrifice to left field that scored Pensacola third baseman Tyler Sparks from third.

Davis also knocked a solo homer to left field In the third inning that had put his team up, 2-1. The last Pensacola pitcher to hit a home run was Ben Lively on Aug. 19, 2014.

Davis has two hits in 13 at bats this season for Pensacola, and now has three RBIs total.

In the fifth inning, Davis worked out of a jam with runners on second and third and two out by getting Tennessee second baseman Ian Happ out for the first and only time in the game. Davis ended up working 5.1 innings, giving up five hits, three walks and striking out one. He now has a team best 6-1 record with a 2.64 ERA.

Besides Davis, both Pensacola second baseman Alex Blandino and right fielder Sebastian Elizalde also homered. Pensacola went ahead, 5-3, in the top of the seventh when Blandino yanked a solo homer to left field, his fifth of the season.

Elizalde then blasted a solo homer – his third of the year – to right field to start the eighth inning, putting Pensacola ahead, 6-3.

The Blue Wahoos are now second in the Southern League with 48 home runs behind the Montgomery Biscuits with 50.

Happ, who scored three of Tennessee’s four runs, was 3-4 with his first Double-A home run. He hit a two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the third inning that drove in Smokies third baseman Chesney Young, who had walked.

Happ also crossed the plate in the bottom of the eighth inning on a ground out by Tennessee right fielder Billy McKinney that pulled the Smokies within, 6-4, of Pensacola.

Pensacola’s bullpen came through again. Carlos Gonzalez, Kevin Shackelford and Alejandro Chacin combined to allow one run on one hit and strike out three in 3.2 innings of relief. Chacin nailed down his 13 save this season, which leads the Southern League.

Pensacola tied the score, 1-1, in its next at bat in the top of the second inning when third baseman Taylor Sparks singled in Elizalde, who also singled.

Pensacola first baseman Eric Jagielo knocked a double with one out to left field in the top of the fourth that scored Elizalde that knotted the game, 3-3. Then, Davis drove in his second run of the game on a sacrifice fly that put Pensacola ahead for good, 4-3.

Pensacola, which won the first half title, improved to 2-1 in the Southern League South Division in the second half and is tied for first with the Jacksonville Suns. Overall its record stands at 43-30.

Operation Dry Water: FWC Crackdown On Boating Under The Influence

June 25, 2016

As the summer recreational boating season gets into full swing, the FWC Law Enforcement Division is ramping up its enforcement efforts as part of a national crackdown on boating under the influence this weekend.

The annual  heightened awareness and enforcement campaign, Operation Dry Water, focuses on deterring boaters from boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Law enforcement agencies nationwide will be out in force through Sunda looking for boaters who choose to boat under the influence, and then removing them from the water. Increased awareness about the dangers of boating under the influence, along with officers focused on identifying impaired operators, aim to drastically reduce the number of accidents and deaths due to impaired boating.

“It is our job as law enforcement officers to identify and remove impaired boaters from the water so that everyone else can continue to have an enjoyable boating season and not become a victim of boating under the influence. Protecting the public goes to the heart of our mission,” said Maj. Richard Moore, FWC’s Boating and Waterways Section Leader. “Our agency is participating in Operation Dry Water, and joining thousands of law enforcement officers nationwide to decrease the number of accidents, injuries and deaths that come as a result of boaters who choose to drink and boat.”

In Florida it is illegal to operate a vessel with a BAC level of .08 or higher. The FWC wants to remind boaters to stay safe this summer by staying sober on the water. Alcohol use is one of the leading contributing factors in recreational boater deaths. During the national weekend of heightened awareness and high-visibility enforcement, boaters can expect to see an enhanced law enforcement presence and increased messaging about this dangerous and preventable crime.

Smokies Top Wahoos 4-1

June 25, 2016

After the Pensacola Blue Wahoos kicked off the second half of the season with a win, game two of the second half ended in a hard-fought 4-1 loss to the Tennessee Smokies.

In a game that saw Pensacola and Tennessee scatter eight and nine hits, respectively, the Smokies found ways to turn those hits into runs.

The Blue Wahoos struck first in the top half of the first inning when Sebastian Elizalde drove in Zach Vincej on an RBI single.

Tennessee took a 2-1 lead with two outs in the bottom half of the inning, as Billy McKinney singled to score Ian Happ followed by an RBI single by Ben Carhart to drive in Victor Caratini. From that point on, the Smokies would not relinquish that lead.

The Smokies lead increased to 3-1 with a sac fly by Chesny Young to score Jacob Hannemann in the bottom of the seventh. In the eighth, Kelly Dugan homered to left center to provide Tennessee with a 4-1 lead.

Sal Romano (1-8) took the loss in his start for the Wahoos, allowing seven hits and a pair of earned runs in his four innings of work. Romano also struck out three batters and walked one in the outing before being relieved by Evan Mitchell, who tossed a pair of hitless innings. Mitchell walked and struck out a batter in his two innings of work.

Kyle McMyne finished out the contest for the Wahoos, allowing two earned runs on two hits—one of them a home run—in his two innings of work, while striking out a pair of batters.

Jen-Ho Tseng (3-3) garnered the start for the Smokies, allowing the lone run on six hits in six innings of work and earning his third win of the year for Tennessee. He struck out four batters while walking three. R.J. Alvarez and Josh Conway both pitched an inning each in shutout relief. Jose Rosario closed out the contest with a shutout inning, allowing just one hit and striking out a pair while earning his second save of the season.

Wahoos Win Second Half Opener

June 24, 2016

Three Reds youngsters made their Double-A debuts for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos Thursday night at Smokies Stadium. Reds No. 10 prospect Tyler Mahle made his debut by starting tonight’s game against the Tennessee Smokies.

The hard-throwing right hander made batters look silly, striking out eight Smokies hitters in the 6-4 Pensacola victory. Mahle (5.0, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 8 SO, HR) picked up his ninth win of the season.

His former Daytona Beach teammate Taylor Sparks (2-4, 2 R, HR, 4 RBI) also debuted at the Double-A level Thursday. On the first pitch of his debut, Sparks launched a two-run homer in the second inning with one on and nobody out to give the Wahoos a 4-1 lead. He joins former Wahoo and current Pensacola resident Travis Mattair on the list of Wahoos to hit homers on the first pitch of his first Double-A at-bat.

Zach Vincej, who has been on fire the month of June hitting .357, gave the Blue Wahoos an early 2-0 lead in the first inning with a homerun to left center, his first of the year.

In the sixth, Sparks came to the plate again. With one on and two down, the third baseman drilled his second homerun of the game, extending Pensacola’s lead to 6-3. Other Wahoos to homer in their first Double-A game include Donald Lutz (2012) and Alex Blandino (2015).

The Blue Wahoos only managed five hits in the ballgame tonight. Like we’ve seen all season: they found a way to win. It’s the “Wahoo Way,” as manager Pat Kelly’s players like to call it.

With nobody on and two away in the bottom of the seventh, Smokies centerfielder Jake Hanneman hit his second homer of the game off Jake Ehret, the third Wahoo to make his AA debut tonight. That cut the deficit to 6-4, and it was as close as Tennessee would get. Ehret (2 IP, 2 H, R, 3 SO) buckled down and finished off the inning.

Southern League All-Star Alejandro Chacin came in to close the deal in the ninth, picking up his 12th save of the season.

With the win tonight, Pensacola rides a four game win streak, tied for the longest of the season.

FWC Cracking Down On Boating Under The Influence

June 22, 2016

As the summer recreational boating season gets into full swing, the FWC Law Enforcement Division is ramping up its enforcement efforts as part of a national crackdown on boating under the influence.

The annual three-day, heightened awareness and enforcement campaign, Operation Dry Water, focuses on deterring boaters from boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Law enforcement agencies nationwide will be out in force June 24-26, looking for boaters who choose to boat under the influence, and then removing them from the water. Increased awareness about the dangers of boating under the influence, along with officers focused on identifying impaired operators, aim to drastically reduce the number of accidents and deaths due to impaired boating.

“It is our job as law enforcement officers to identify and remove impaired boaters from the water so that everyone else can continue to have an enjoyable boating season and not become a victim of boating under the influence. Protecting the public goes to the heart of our mission,” said Maj. Richard Moore, FWC’s Boating and Waterways Section Leader. “Our agency is participating in Operation Dry Water, and joining thousands of law enforcement officers nationwide to decrease the number of accidents, injuries and deaths that come as a result of boaters who choose to drink and boat.”

In Florida it is illegal to operate a vessel with a BAC level of .08 or higher. The FWC wants to remind boaters to stay safe this summer by staying sober on the water. Alcohol use is one of the leading contributing factors in recreational boater deaths. During the national weekend of heightened awareness and high-visibility enforcement, boaters can expect to see an enhanced law enforcement presence and increased messaging about this dangerous and preventable crime.

Pensacola First Half South Division Champions

June 20, 2016

On Father’s Day, Eric Jagielo had his dad, Steve, in the stands watching him play.

He treated his dad to one of the best Father’s Day gifts possible by hitting a walk-off single with two outs that hugged the third base line and bounced over the third base bag, scoring Pensacola second baseman Brandon Dixon for a 2-1 victory over Mobile.

Not only did his dad celebrate but the 18th sellout crowd of 5,038 at Blue Wahoos Stadium went wild. The Blue Wahoos went wild after the game mostly spraying each other with about three dozen bottles of iced champagne.

Jagielo came in for Kyle Parker to play first base in the ninth inning. He came to the plate hitting .198 before the game-winning hit that upped his average to .202.

“My dad was in the stands on Father’s Day,” Jagielo said. “I just let my instincts take over as who I am as a baseball player. I’m not going to say it’s a storybook ending but it left a good feeling for the entire day.”

The Blue Wahoos improved Sunday to 41-29 – the most victories by Pensacola in a half in its five-year history. The Blue Wahoos were also perfect at home winning all seven series.

Meanwhile, Biloxi lost the opening game of a doubleheader, 2-1, against the Jacksonville Suns, so Pensacola knew it won the division crown in the bottom of the first inning. The Shuckers finished 39-30, 1.5 games back of Pensacola.

Pensacola manager Pat Kelly said he preferred winning it the “Wahoo Way” as his players have dubbed it. It means winning on a walk-off hit, which Pensacola has done in five of the last 10 games and they tied the club record with seven walk-offs on the year.

The win was even more special to Kelly, he said, because they won the division by earning a victory.

“This team just finds ways to win,” said Kelly, who was drenched with champagne by his players, while conducting an interview with the media on the field. “We’re not doing anything all game but we stay close and have a chance to win in the ninth. We turn it on in the last three innings.”

It was a not-so-secret secret that the Blue Wahoos had won their second straight South Division title with players giving each other high fives and hugs in the dugout near the beginning of the game. The team broke the news in the middle of the eighth inning to the Pensacola fans by projecting “South Division Champions” on the scoreboard. The sold out crowd gave the team a loud standing ovation.

Like it has done a lot lately, Pensacola tied the score, 1-1, when left fielder Tony Renda hit a high pop up half way between third base and left field near the line. Mobile shortstop Ildemaro Vargas and left fielder Cody Regis collided and the ball dropped to the ground. Neither Vargas or Regis moved to pick up the ball as Renda raced around the bases for an inside the park home run. It was his first homer of the year for Pensacola.

It was his first inside the park home run since T-ball, said Renda. His .326 average gave him the Southern League first half batting crown.

“It was always drilled into me to run hard because you never know what’s going to happen,” said Renda, who has hit in 20 of his last 22 games at a .413 clip. “I thought, ‘You know, you should run. I saw them both lying on the ground. It was good.”

The Southern League All-Star added, “It’s fun. One of the best feelings you can have is cold champagne running down your back. What a way to win the game.”

The BayBears led, 1-0, in the second inning when Vargas doubled in the right center gap with two outs and then scored on catcher Ronnie Freeman’s bloop single.

Pensacola also got a quality start by Nick Travieso, who was the Blue Wahoos opening day starter. Travieso threw six innings, giving up one earned run on three hits, two walks and struck out two. He lowered his ERA to 4.91, which is below 5.00 for the first time since May 28.

Travieso said he’s been working hard with Pensacola pitching coaches and in the weight room to get back to his form that made him the Cincinnati Reds’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2014.

“In the second inning, I saw the guys celebrating,” Travieso said. “I knew I had a job to take care of. I wanted to come in and win it. We have a bunch of guys who are hungry.”

The ever-popular Ray Chang made his second appearance in a game in June in the sixth inning. He walked and hit an infield single to shortstop. He also showed flashy fielding in the hot corner picking up a slow roller with his bare hand in the seventh inning to get the speedy Mobile shortstop Ildemaro Vargas. In the eighth inning, Chang back handed a hard hit grounder behind the third base bag and robbed a hit from first baseman Kevin Cron.

Asked which division title was more fun, Chang hesitated. It was his second game in a row that he’s played this month. He said he had the jitters just like he did when he played his first game ever.

“Probably the second time,” said Chang. “You kind of know what to expect. I don’t know. It’s a tie. It’s awesome.”

Pensacola And Biloxi Battle Down To The Wire

June 19, 2016

In his five-year professional career with six different teams, Pensacola Blue Wahoos starting pitcher Rookie Davis has never made it to the playoffs and played on a winning team once.

After the Mobile BayBears jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, it looked like his streak of bad luck might continue.

“Honestly, I knew what was at stake,” Davis said. “When I came to the dugout and looked my teammates in the eye, I thought everything they’ve done for me this year the least I could do for my team was give them the best chance to win. This is the best game I’ve had.”

Davis buckled down shutting out the Mobile BayBears over the last four innings, including the last 10 batters he faced and his teammates delivered a four-run second inning to help Pensacola to a 6-3 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 5,038 at Blue Wahoos Stadium.

In the first game Saturday that was resumed from the night before because of rain, Pensacola won, 3-2, over Mobile in the eighth inning, thanks to a single by shortstop Zach Vincej. He smacked a line drive to right center that scored Pensacola second baseman Brandon Dixon from second base with the game-winning run.

With the two victories Saturday, Pensacola improved to 40-29 – the most victories by the Cincinnati Reds Double-A affiliate in its five-year history. The Blue Wahoos play their final game of the first half Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Biloxi Shuckers, who are 38-29, play two games against the Jacksonville Suns on Sunday after the teams’ game on Saturday was rained out.

If Pensacola defeats Mobile Sunday, they will win the first half title. If Biloxi loses one game Sunday, Pensacola will capture the title, the second in its history.

Blue Wahoos manager Pat Kelly said he’s confident his team can get the job done. Pensacola leads Mobile, 3-2, in this six-game series.

“You always want to be able to claim the title yourself,” Kelly said. “If we go out and win the game, it’s ours. They’ve played hard all year. I’m looking forward to playing tomorrow.”

The start falls on the Blue Wahoos opening day starter, Nick Travieso, who is 3-3 with a 5.27 ERA on the season.

“He’s one of our best competitors,” Kelly said. “He’s the perfect guy in this position.”

Davis, who improved to 5-1 with a 2.39 ERA this season, also trusts Travieso in the final game of the year with title implications on the line.

“I know he’s ready,” Davis said. “I wouldn’t have anyone else going. He’s going to work his ass off to do everything he can to win the game.”

Davis got the most offensive support he’s had this season with the Blue Wahoos scoring six runs.

Leading the way was left fielder Tony Renda, who is now 36-88 or .409 and has 12 multi-hit contests in his last 21 games. He’s now batting .323 on the year, which is second in the Southern League.

Renda had the big hit to help Pensacola come from behind to take a 4-3 lead in the second inning. Renda came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs and smacked a two-out double that bounced off the left field wall to score Blue Wahoos catcher Kyle Skipworth, shortstop Zach Vincej and third baseman Alex Blandino.

Pensacola first baseman Kyle Parker scored the first run of the inning when Blandino got hit in the hand by a pitch.

The 24-year-old Renda was added to the Southern League All-Star team but declined, so that he could support his wife, Samantha, who is opening a home furnishing store in California. The couple has been dating for nine years and were married in December.

“She’s fired up,” Renda said. “She’s supported me throughout my entire baseball career.”

Mobile scored three runs in the first inning to jump out to a 3-0 lead. BayBears right fielder Gabriel Guerrero hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score center fielder Evan Marzilli, who walked to start the game. Then BayBears first baseman Kevin Cron clobbered a two-run homer over the left field wall that also brought in shortstop Ildemaro Vargas, who had singled.

In the first game Saturday that was resumed from the night before because of rain, Pensacola won, 3-2, over Mobile in the eighth inning thanks to a single by shortstop Zach Vincej. He laced a line drive to right center that scored Pensacola second baseman Brandon Dixon from second base with the game-winning run.

Raisel Iglesias started the sixth inning of the suspended game Saturday when the game picked up where it left off. He pitched one inning, allowed one hit, walked one and struck out one. The Cincinnati Reds opening day starter pitched three rehab games for Pensacola in his recovery from a shoulder

impingement in his throwing arm. In those three games, he threw five scoreless innings, allowed three hits, walked one and struck out five.

“There’s a lot of fight in this team,” Renda said. “We’re never out of any ball game. We just have to go out and play our game.”

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