Wahoos Move Into Second Place

July 22, 2015

The Pensacola Blue Wahoos played good defense, received clutch hitting and relied on strong pitching to hand the Jacksonville Suns its sixth straight loss.

It all came together to propel the Blue Wahoos to a 6-5 victory Tuesday in front of 3,290 at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium.

On defense, Pensacola turned four double plays and now leads the Southern League with 119 total.

At the plate, Blue Wahoos shortstop Zach Vincej hit a solo home run in the first inning to knot the game at 1. Second baseman Ryan Wright singled in the fifth to score third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean to tie the score, 4-4. Finally, right fielder Juan Duran smashed a double down the third baseline in the sixth inning to put Pensacola ahead, 6-4.

On the mound, Barrett Astin lasted a career-long seven innings in his fifth start in Double-A, setting down the last seven Suns batters he faced. Then, Blue Wahoos closer Zack Weiss struck out two with the bases loaded in the eighth and two more in the ninth to earn his 12th save on the season.

Pensacola leads the Florida rivals’ race for the Golden Skillet, 9-6. The Blue Wahoos, who have one more five-game series left with the Suns, have never won the trophy since its inaugural season in 2012.

Pensacola manager Pat Kelly is intent on winning the Golden Skillet, which he has a picture of on his Twitter account. But he said he’s not savvy enough to print it out.

“It would be the first time we’ve won it,” Kelly said. “It really tells us how much Jacksonville has dominated Pensacola the last four years. We want to win every series and win the division. That’s our goal. That’s what we’re shooting for.”

The Blue Wahoos are in second place at 15-10 in the Southern League South Division, one game behind the Mississippi Braves. They were 24-43 and in last place in the first half.

Duran provided much of the clutch hitting for Pensacola Tuesday. He went 3-5 with three doubles and three RBIs. He also generated a run on his own in the fifth when he reached on an error by the third baseman, stole second, stole third and then scored on a wild pitch that cut Jacksonville’s lead to 4-3. His two stolen bases came after he had one in his previous 118 games in Double-A.

Duran is hitting .270 with one homer and 13 RBIs for the Blue Wahoos since returning July 1 to the team after injury rehab at Goodyear, Ariz.

“I’m feeling very good,” said Duran, who played pepper with a Cincinnati Reds hitting coach Tuesday. “This is one of the best games in my life. That’s what I’m working on — being consistent.”

In his fifth start with the Blue Wahoos, Astin overcame a three-run fourth inning, to retire nine of the last 10 Suns he faced. Astin improved to 2-1 with a 3.73 ERA, after giving up four runs, three unearned, on seven hits and two walks, while striking out four.

“A good manager would have left him in the game,” Kelly said jokingly. “Astin did a really nice job, pitching through the seventh inning. We needed what he could give us.”

Jacksonville went on top with three runs in the fourth off Astin to go ahead, 4-2. He walked Suns third baseman Zack Cox to score right fielder Carlos Lopez. Suns catcher Chadd Krist then hit a double to left field that drove in shortstop J.T. Riddle and second baseman Terrence Dayleg.

Pensacola shortstop Zach Vincej tied the game, 1-1, in the bottom of the third when he lined a solo home run to left field. Vincej has hit in 13 of his last 14 games, going 4-7 in the series, with a home run and double. He’s batting 20-50 or .400 with five RBIs in those games and has raised his season average to .261.

The first game of the five-game series is scheduled at 6:35 p.m. Wednesday with the Milwaukee Brewers Double-A affiliate Biloxi Shuckers. LHP Wandy Peralta (5-7, 5.72) takes the mound for the Wahoos and is scheduled to be opposed by Shuckers RHP Johnny Hellweg (0-2, 6.23).

Smith Hits Back To Back Homers In Wahoos Win

July 21, 2015

Pensacola Blue Wahoos first baseman Marquez Smith showed off the power that he has displayed throughout his nine seasons in the minor leagues.

The 30-year-old lined a two-run home run to left center in the first inning and then crushed a solo shot to left field in the second inning. Smith became the first Pensacola player to hit back-to-back home runs this season.

Pensacola downed Jacksonville, 7-4, Monday in front of 3,973 at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium and now leads the Florida rivals’ race for the Golden Skillet, 8-6. The Blue Wahoos, who have one more five-game series left with the Suns, have never won the trophy since its inaugural season in 2012.

Smith has averaged just over 15 homers a season and last year smacked 30 mostly for the High-A Bakersfield Blaze. Besides his two home runs, he had a double and four RBIs. Smith now has seven homers and 33 RBIs and improved his batting average to .278 this season for Double-A Pensacola.

“It was a big one,” Smith said about his night. “A pretty huge one for sure.”

Smith said he cranked a slider and fastball out of the park. His play in the Mexican League earned him 300 more at bats during the winter. He said everyone on the team is stepping up their play in the second half.

“You go up every at bat just trying to battle,” he said. “I was just trying to move the runners over. I was able to get it in the air and drive it out.”

In the first inning, Smith lined a two-run home run to left center that also brought in left fielder Jesse Winker, who had hit a stand up double, to put Pensacola ahead, 3-0. In his next at bat, he crushed a solo shot to left field that put the Blue Wahoos up, 5-0, after two innings. Then, in the sixth inning, Smith doubled to score center fielder Bryson Smith for a 7-2 lead.

Smith became the eighth Pensacola player to clobber two homers in a game. Former outfielder Kyle Waldrop was the last to do it against Jacksonville on Aug. 19, 2014. No Blue Wahoos player has hit three homers in one game.

Pensacola manager Pat Kelly said Smith is now hitting like he did in Bakersfield, where he coached him last year.

“This is how he was swinging the bat last year,” Kelly said. “You’re starting to see it in this second half. I think he’s hitting extremely well.”

The fifth inning was the Seth Mejias-Brean inning. After making a diving grab at third of Jacksonville left fielder Eudy Pina’s sharp grounder and barely getting him out at first, Mejias-Brean came to the plate and crushed a solo homer to left field, which was his fifth of the year, and put Pensacola ahead, 6-2.

Meanwhile, Pensacola starter Josh Smith rebounded from his loss to Birmingham Barons who scored six runs before chasing him after 3.2 innings. It wasn’t pretty but Smith lasted 5.1 innings and gave up just two runs to Jacksonville and struck out eight. However, he also gave up 10 hits and two walks to the Suns. He improved to 5-2 on the season with a 3.00 ERA.

Four times Jacksonville loaded the bases and four times Pensacola thwarted the Suns from scoring.

Smith had given up two singles and a walk after getting the first two batters out in the fifth inning and got out of the bases-loaded jam.

Blue Wahoos reliever Patrick Schuster came in for Smith, who loaded the bases on three singles, and got a strike out and ground out to shortstop to end the sixth inning with no runs.

Then, Jacksonville loaded the bases in the eighth inning but Blue Wahoos reliever Miguel Celestino struck out the Suns’ cleanup hitter Matt Juengel on a 94 mph fastball.

Finally, Zack Weiss struck out two batters and got a ground out to escape with the bases loaded in the ninth inning without a score. Weiss now has a team-leading 11 saves.

“You can’t give them that many opportunities,” Kelly said. “Eventually, it comes back and bites you.”

The final game of the two-game series is scheduled at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday with the Miami Marlins Double-A affiliate Jacksonville Suns

Skipworth Homers, Wahoos Lose To Birmingham

July 20, 2015

Pensacola Blue Wahoos catcher Kyle Skipworth set another franchise record Sunday with his seventh home run blast in a month and now has nine homers on the season.

On Thursday against the Birmingham Barons, Skipworth had set the team record with five homers in five straight games. He now has six homers in the past seven games and seven homers in the past 10 games.

Despite Skipworth lifting a fly ball over the center field wall for a solo home run in the seventh inning, Birmingham won, 11-3, Sunday at Regions Field and captured the five-game series, 3-2.

The Barons broke the game open with seven runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to go up, 9-0. Birmingham shortstop Tim Anderson had a two-run single and DH Courtney Hawkins hit a two-run home run.

Mostly the Barons relied on the arm of the Chicago White Sox No. 2 prospect Frankie Montas, who was called up for one day July 17 to the Major Leagues, where he served as the 26th man for a doubleheader.

Montas, whose fastball has been clocked as high as 102 mph this season, blanked Pensacola over five innings, allowing just two hits—a double by third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean in the fourth inning and a single by shortstop Zach Vincej in the fifth.

He also walked one and struck out eight in Sunday’s game. Montas improved to 3-1 in 16 starts in Double-A and lowered his ERA to 2.31. He has given up just three earned runs in his last 18 innings for a 1.50 ERA since June 28.

Mejias-Brean, who was 2-4, has gotten a hit in 13 of his last 16 games, including five multi-hit games. He is now batting .259 on the year.

Vincej went 1-3 and walked and has a hit in 11 of his last 12 games, after going 0-4 Saturday to end his 10-game hitting streak.

Pensacola is now 13-10 in the second half of the Southern League season (25-43 first half) and fell into second place in the South Division.

Meanwhile, the Barons improved to 17-5 in the second half (33-36 first half) and remains in first place in the North Division.

The Blue Wahoos return home to play the Jacksonville Suns July 20-21 and the Biloxi Shuckers July 22-26.

Smith, Winker Smash Homers In Wahoos 3-1 Win Over B’ham

July 19, 2015

Pensacola Blue Wahoos Marquez Smith and Jesse Winker both hit solo home runs against the Birmingham Barons Saturday at Regions Field to win its second game in a row.

Smith crushed a fly ball deep to left field for his fifth homer of the season in the fourth inning and Winker lined a drive to right center field for his sixth homer in the eighth inning.

The five-game series between Pensacola and Birmingham is tied at two games apiece after the Blue Wahoos, 3-1, victory. Pensacola, which has won eight of its last 10 games, plays the final game of the series with the Barons at 3 p.m. Sunday.

Smith, who was the DH, currently has five homers and 29 RBIs, while Winker, who was playing left field, now has six homers and 31 RBIs.

Pensacola went ahead, 2-1, when it scored its other run in the seventh inning after shortstop Juan Perez doubled in third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean, who doubled to lead off the inning.

Birmingham had tied the game, 1-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning when first baseman Danny Hayes singled on a line drive to right field to score third baseman Nick Delmonico.

Pensacola starter Daniel Wright improved to 6-7 with a 4.57 ERA, after scattering nine hits and striking out four in eight innings of work. It was Wright’s third win in four games and his longest start of the year for the Blue Wahoos.

In his past two games, both wins, Wright has allowed one earned run in 15 innings for a 1.20 ERA that dropped his ERA below 5.0 runs per game for the first time this season.

Zack Weiss earned his team-leading 10th save, allowing one hit, one walk and striking out one.

Pensacola catcher Kyle Skipworth’s franchise record five home runs in five games was broken and Zach Vincej’s hitting streak ended at 10 games.

Mejias-Brean, who doubled Saturday in four at bats, has gotten a hit in 12 of his last 15 games, including four multi-hit games. He is now batting .255 on the year.

Pensacola is now 13-9 in the second half of the Southern League season and is tied for first place in the South Division. The last time the Blue Wahoos were in first place this late in the season was July 22, 2012.

The Barons dropped to 16-5 in the second half and lead the North Division by five games over the Montgomery Biscuits.

The Blue Wahoos return home to play the Jacksonville Suns July 20-21 and the Biloxi Shuckers July 22-26.


Wahoos Beat Birmingham

July 18, 2015

Juan Duran singled in Ray Chang to help the Pensacola Blue Wahoos snap its two game losing streak and defeat the Birmingham Barons, 6-5, Friday at Regions Field.

In the sixth inning, Pensacola sent nine batters to the plate and scored five runs to take the lead, 6-5, and snap its two-game losing streak to the Barons.

The Blue Wahoos sixth inning rally began when Pensacola loaded the bases with none out when catcher Yovan Gonzalez hit a sacrifice fly that scored third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean to cut Birmingham’s lead to, 5-2.

Chang, a second baseman leading Pensacola with a .323 average, then hit a single to drive in Sean Buckley to pull the Blue Wahoos within, 5-3, of the Barons.

Pensacola left fielder Jesse Winker then hit a sacrifice fly to score shortstop Juan Perez and the Blue Wahoos pulled to within, 5-4. Pensacola first baseman Marquez Smith then singled with two out to tie the game, 5-5, when center fielder Beau Amaral crossed the plate.

The Blue Wahoos finally took its second lead of the game, 6-5, when Duran, a Pensacola right fielder, singled to left field to score Chang. Duran was 1-4 with two RBIs and is hitting .260. Smith was thrown out at home plate trying to score, too, which ended the inning.

Pensacola went ahead 1-0 to start the game in the first inning when Duran hit a sacrifice fly that scored Winker.

However, Birmingham would score the next five runs with two in the second and third and one in the fifth. Barons second baseman Joey DeMichele hit his fourth triple of the season to score two runs in the second inning. In the third, third baseman Nick Delmonico doubled in shortstop Tim Anderson, while Delmonico scored on a double play to put the Barons ahead, 4-1.

Birmingham left fielder Christian Marrero hit his 11th home run of the season to right center to put the Barons up, 5-1.

Then, Pensacola reliever Miguel Celestino finished off the Barons by striking out Anderson after allowing two consecutive singles and preserved the Pensacola victory for his third save of the year.

Mejias-Brean has hit in 12 of his last 14 games, including four multi-hit games. He’s batting 15-51 or .294 and scored nine times, hit a homer and driven in four runs since July 2.

Pensacola is now 12-9 in the second half of the Southern League season and is tied for first place in the South Division with the Mississippi Braves. The last time the Blue Wahoos were in first place this late in the season was July 22, 2012.

The Barons dropped to 16-4 in the second half and lead the North Division by five games over the Montgomery Biscuits.

Skipworth Homers Again As The Wahoos Fall To The Barons

July 17, 2015

Pensacola Blue Wahoos catcher Kyle Skipworth keeps tagging the baseball out of the park, hitting an almost unbelievable five home runs in five games.

The 24-year-old also tied the Pensacola record by striking his sixth dinger in a month. Still, the Blue Wahoos lost, 4-2, Thursday to the Birmingham Barons at Region Field.

Pensacola third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean started a two-out rally in the sixth inning with a single to center. Skipworth followed his single by smashing a line drive over the center field wall to cut Birmingham’s lead, 3-2.

Skipworth now has six homers in eight games to lead Pensacola with eight homers this season and has 18 RBIs.

Barons designated hitter Brian Fletcher hit a solo homer in the eighth off of Pensacola closer Zack Weiss to pad Birmingham’s lead, 4-2.

Birmingham had gone ahead, 3-0, in the fourth when left fielder Marcus Lemon drove in two runs on a line drive single to centerfield.

Birmingham scored first in the third inning when third baseman Nick Delimonico singled to right field to score center fielder Keenyn Walker, who also singled.

In addition, Pensacola shortstop Zach Vincej went 2-4 and drove in a run to extend his hitting streak to 10 games. He is batting 15-36 or .417 during his streak.

Pensacola is now 11-9 in the second half of the Southern League season and is tied for first place in the South Division with the Mobile BayBears. The last time the Blue Wahoos were in first place this late in the season was July 22, 2012.

The Barons improved to 16-3 in the second half and lead the North Division by 6.5 games over the Montgomery Biscuits.

The Blue Wahoos return home to play the Jacksonville Suns July 20-21 and the Biloxi Shuckers July 22-26.

Birmingham Beats The Blue Wahoos, Snapping 6-Game Win Streak

July 16, 2015

Pensacola Blue Wahoos catcher Kyle Skipworth crushed his fourth homer in four games and right fielder Juan Duran knocked his first home run of the season for the team.

Pensacola lost, 14-8, Wednesday to the Birmingham Barons at Regions Field, which snapped a franchise record six wins in a row for the Blue Wahoos.

Skipworth has five homers in seven games and now leads the Blue Wahoos with seven homers on the year. His solo shot came in the fifth inning and cut Birmingham’s lead to, 6-1.

Duran’s first homer of the year was a three run shot in the sixth inning. It pulled Pensacola within, 9-4, of Birmingham. Duran went 2-3 with two runs scored and three RBIs in the game.

However, the Barons jumped out to a, 6-0, lead off of Pensacola starter Josh Smith with six hits and a walk in 3.2 innings of work. Smith’s record fell to 4-2 on the year and his ERA rose to 2.95 from 1.64.

Barons catcher Rob Brantly hit a solo shot in the second inning and center fielder Keenyn Walker smashed a two-run homer to give Birmingham a 3-0 lead and they never looked back.

In addition, Pensacola shortstop Zach Vincej went 1-5 and drove in a run to extend his hitting streak to nine games. He is batting 13-32 or .406 during his streak.

Pensacola did add four runs in the top of the ninth inning but the comeback was too little, too late.

Pensacola is now 11-8 in the second half of the Southern League season and remained in first place in the South Division, one game ahead of the Mississippi Braves and Mobile BayBears. The last time the Blue Wahoos were in first place this late in the season was July 22, 2012.

The Barons improved to 15-3 in the second half and lead the North Division.

Northview Quarterback Club Plans Coed Softball Tourney

July 15, 2015

The Northview High School Quarterback Club will hold a coed softball tournament on August 1 at Showalter Park in Century.

The entry is $150 per team. For more details on the tournament, contact Amy Holland at (850) 516-8400 or Melissa Ward at (251) 359-7383.

Escambia River Catfish Falls Just Short Of State Record

July 15, 2015

Darrin Smith of Byrneville recently caught this huge flathead catfish on the Escambia River near Bluff Springs using a rod and reel. He met a Florida Fish and Wildlife officer for a certified weight. The fish weighed in at 50.5 pounds — 4.5 pounds short of the state record. Photo for North Escambia.com, click to enlarge.

Wahoos Win Record Sixth Straight

July 14, 2015

The Pensacola Blue s set franchise records Monday night by winning its sixth game in a row and sweeping its first five-game series.

Not only that, Pensacola is now 11-7 in the second half of the Southern League season and in sole possession of first place in the South Division. The last time the Blue Wahoos were in first place this late in the season was July 22, 2012.

The Blue Wahoos defeated the Montgomery Biscuits, 6-2, on Monday in front of 4,143 at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium.

How have they turned around a last place team in the first half to a first place team in the second half?

Pitching and defense, says Blue Wahoos manager Pat Kelly.

“All along I have thought this was a good ball club,” Kelly said. “Pitching and defense wins this league.”

During the first half, Pensacola finished in last place at 25-43 and 18 games behind the Biloxi Shuckers, who were 43-25. Kelly has said that Biloxi is the only team that he thought was better than Pensacola, winning eight of 10 games against the Blue Wahoos to start the year.

They face the hottest team in the Southern League North Division next — the Birmingham Barons. After winning, 2-0, over Jackson Generals Monday, the Barons are 14-3.

“They may be hotter than us,” Kelly said of the Barons. “It’ll be a good test for us. Our motto has been to win every series.”

Pitching and defense beat the Biscuits Monday night.

Tim Adleman earned his fourth win in a row and improved to 6-6 on the season with a 1.95 ERA. He allowed a solo home run by Montgomery catcher Justin O’Conner. In seven innings he gave up five hits, one walk and struck out five.

In his past four games, Adleman has allowed three earned runs in 28 innings for a 0.96 ERA. He also has given up 20 hits, four walks and struck out 24.

Plus, the Blue Wahoos turned three double plays and leads the Southern League with 102 double plays total.

Pensacola utility infielder Ray Chang, who is batting .323 this season, says player development is great but winning is even better. He endured a 59-79 record in 2013 and 60-80 in 2014.

“It feels great,” Chang said. “Throughout my career, I have not been a part of too many winning clubs. The last two years were rough. To start off the way we have in the second half gives the fans something to cheer about. It has been awesome.”

Pensacola catcher Kyle Skipworth hit his third homer in three games and fourth in six when he launched a bomb to straight away center field that scored three runs and put the Blue Wahoos ahead, 3-1, in the fourth inning.

“We’re just enjoying it right now,” said Skipworth, who said he didn’t want to know how many games the team has won in a row.

Adleman, the Blue Wahoos mainstay in the rotation this year, said he hopes to keep winning.

“It would be nice to win the second half and send the Blue Wahoos to the playoffs,” he said. “It would be fun, a lot of fun.”

Pensacola’s main closer Zack Weiss, who has a team-leading nine saves, added: “We just want to be competitive and give ourselves a chance to make the post season. It’s nice to get rolling. We’re not thinking about the first half.”

After second baseman Zach Vincej singled to lead off the first inning for Pensacola, Montgomery right-hander Austin Pruitt struck out five of the next six batters between the first and second innings.

Vincej also scored during a three-run eighth inning on a double into the left field corner by third baseman Marquez Smith. Vincej singled in three at bats to extend his hitting streak to eight games. He’s batting .444 (12-27) over that span.

The 24-year-old is hitting .248 this season, raising his average from .210 on July 2. This series against Montgomery, Vincej went 7-14 or .500 with three runs, one RBI and a walk.

No matter what happens, Kelly said he likes this team.

“At no time do they quit,” he said. “They always play hard.”

The Blue Washoos start a five-game series at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday, July 15-19 with the Chicago White Sox Double-A affiliate Birmingham Barons. Pensacola returns home to host a two-game series at 6:35 p.m. Monday, July 20-21 with the Miami Marlins Double-A affiliate Jacksonville Suns.

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