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.
May 19, 2016
Kyle Parker hit a blooper that landed between the second baseman and right fielder for a double to snap an 0-19 slump and drive in the go-ahead run.
The Pensacola Blue Wahoos first baseman then ultimately scored the winning run when second baseman Brandon Dixon hit a sharp liner to right field, as the Cincinnati Reds Double-A affiliate pulled out a come-from-behind victory, 3-2, over the Mississippi Braves Wednesday at Blue Wahoos Stadium.
Pensacola has now won all four series at home this season, taking three of five games from Mississippi. They are 24-16 and in second place in the Southern League South Division.
The 26-year-old Parker, who has 64 games of Major League experience with the Colorado Rockies, said he remained positive throughout his slump the past six games.
“You can’t let what happens in the past dictate what happens,” Parker said. “You just have to kind of forget about your failures and hope for something good to happen. It was nice to get lucky.”
Parker was at bat when Pensacola’s Alex Blandino, who earned a two-out walk to start the rally, scored from third on a wild pitch in the eighth to tie the game, 1-1. Parker then hit his blooper that scored center fielder Phillip Ervin to put the Blue Wahoos ahead, 2-1. Parker was 1-4 with an RBI and run scored.
However, the game was not over. Pensacola called on its closer Alejandro Chacin to pitch the ninth. He gave up three singles and a walk and got one out but also gave up his second run of the season when second baseman Johan Camargo singled to score Jacob Schrader and pull Mississippi within one run, 3-2.
Chacin then walked pinch hitter Levi Hyams to load the bases with one out. The righty then got lead-off hitter Matt Lipka to pop out weekly to first base for the second out. He then faced shortstop Dansby Swanson, the overall No. 1 pick in the 2015 draft, who had blistered the Southern League’s best pitching staff all series, going 7-20 or .350 with one game-winning homer and three RBIs. But Chacin got Swanson to line out to right field to end the game and leave the bases loaded.
It was the fourth one-run game in the five-game series between the two evenly matched teams.
Pensacola manager Pat Kelly praised his closer for coming through to get his team-leading seventh save of the year.
“He showed no fear,” Kelly said. “He might have been the only one in the ballpark who wasn’t afraid.”
Kelly also said “grit” was a good word to describe the Blue Wahoos team that seems to never give up. In six of the eight innings, they got at least one runner on base and couldn’t bring them around to home until the two-out, three-run rally in the eighth.
“They are very determined,” Kelly said. “They’re going to find a way. Grit is a great word to describe them.”
Dating back to his first win of his Double-A career on April 25, Garrett has pitched 29.2 innings in his last five starts and allowed only four earned runs for a 1.21 ERA, while striking out 31. He got a no-decision Wednesday. In his three wins this season, Pensacola has scored 20 runs but in this three losses the team has scored only three runs. They were shutout when he left the game after working six innings, allowing four hits, giving up one earned run, walking three and striking out six.
Kelly said he liked Garrett’s effort Thursday. During the series that matched the two best pitching staffs in the Southern League, Mississippi hit just .191 against the Blue Wahoos’ pitchers, who have a 3.06 team ERA. Meanwhile, Pensacola hit .217 off the Braves pitching staff that boasts a 3.24 ERA.
“I don’t know that (Garrett) was 100 percent today,” Kelly said. “But to go six innings and give up one run is fantastic. We saw two really good starting pitchers today.”
May 18, 2016
Tate High School seniors Trevor Hoffman and Kolby Sprague signed Monday to play baseball with Marion Military Institute. Hoffman is the son of Jeff and Robyn Hoffman; Sprague is the son of Joe and Jamie Sprague. NorthEscambia.com photos by Kristi Barbour, click to enlarge.
May 18, 2016
Flomaton High School’s Dezeray S. Wesley has signed a women’s basketball scholarship to Coffeyville Community College in Coffeyville, KS. Pictured top are: (front) Flomaton High guidance counselor Anthony Wesley, Dezeray Wesley, (back) Anthony Wesley, Raylin Wesley, Khortense Dortch-Wesley and Vivian Dortch. Pictured below: Team members celebrate (front, L-R) Diamond Carter, Tamera Dunn, Dezeray S. Wesley, Caitlan Dean, (back) Morgan Miller, Hannah Filmore (Springhill College), Alisa Brown , Bianca White, Danielle Sager, Shelby Barnes, Coach Nathan Kemp, Madison McFadden and Aleiha Emmons. Photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.
May 18, 2016
Pensacola Blue Wahoos starter Nick Travieso looked like his old self on the mound Tuesday night—the one who was the Cincinnati Reds’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2014 and the one who entered the season as the Reds’ ninth best prospect.
Travieso used his low-to-mid 90 mph fastball to pitch a season-high seven scoreless innings and gave up only one hit as Pensacola downed the pesky Mississippi Braves, 3-1, Tuesday in front of 3,875 at Blue Wahoos Stadium.
A first round pick in 2012 — one of six first rounders on the Pensacola roster this season — Travieso threw seven scoreless innings to earn his sixth one hitter since 2013.
He admitted he has struggled his last three outings, posting an 8.30 earned-run average, allowing 13 runs in 12 innings pitched. He got knocked out in 2.1 innings May 7 at home against the Biloxi Shuckers, after giving up seven runs, including five earned.
“I’ve been struggling lately,” Travieso said. “I got into a groove. It’s something I’ve been working on all offseason.”
The last time Travieso, who threw 93 pitches, including a 95-mph fastball in the sixth inning, completed seven innings was in April 30, 2014 with the Low-A Dayton Dragons. He said he has been lifting weights to strengthen his legs this season, which has given him more stamina
“I’m feeling stronger every start,” Travieso said. “When I go after (the hitters) with my best stuff it turns out pretty well.”
Pensacola evened the series at 2-2 and improved to 23-16, while Mississippi fell to 17-22.
Pensacola manager Pat Kelly was pleased with Travieso’s dominating performance. Travieso also had a season-high six strikeouts.
“He’s always a guy who has pitched off his fastball better than anybody,” Kelly said. “He just felt out of whack. This time he said he really felt good.”
After three-one run games in a row, Pensacola held on to a 3-1 victory with two outstanding catches. Phillip Ervin dived and stretched out to rob a sure hit by Mississippi left fielder Dustin Peterson that would have scored a second run in the eighth inning.
Then in the ninth Tony Renda, who has rarely played the outfield in his professional career, chased down a deep fly ball at the wall in left field off the bat of Mississippi catcher Willians Astudillo.
Kelly said he was as amazed as Blue Wahoos fans watching Ervin make the spectacular diving catch in right center field.
“Ervin’s catch was fantastic,” Kelly said. “When it was hit, I didn’t think he had a shot. He just ran that ball down.”
Pensacola started the game off right with three straight singles to score Renda and go ahead, 1-0. Mississippi pitcher Rob Whalen, however, then struck out the next three batters looking.
In the third inning, Pensacola added two more when Brandon Dixon scored by twisting away from the tag at home plate on a Jeff Gelalich single to right field. Pensacola third baseman Eric Jagielo, who was celebrating his 24th birthday, then crossed the plate for a 3-0 Pensacola lead on a blooper to right field by Blue Wahoos catcher Joe Hudson.
In the first three innings, the Blue Wahoos got seven hits but stranded eight runners on base.
“In those situations you have got to put the ball in play,” Kelly said.
Mississippi’s Dansby Swanson earned the only other Mississippi hit in the game in the eighth inning off of Pensacola closer Carlos Gonzalez, who earned his third save this year. He’s hitting .375 or 6-16 off Blue Wahoos pitching, which has a Southern League best 3.09 earned-run average.
Kelly said if he was the Atlanta Braves general manager, he would leave the future superstar in the Southern League for the remainder of the 2016 season.
“There’s a lot to be said for staying in the Southern League and learning,” Kelly said. “Eventually they (Swanson and Ozzie Albies) will be the double-play combination (in Atlanta). It’s just a matter of when they want to do that.”
May 17, 2016
West Florida High School senior Kris Reber of Molino signed Monday to play baseball with LaGrange College in Lagrange, GA. Among those joining him for the signing were WFHS Athletic Director and Head Coach Mark Conti, his brother Zach Reber, sister Olivia Reber and parents TJ and Melissa Reber. Photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.
May 17, 2016
The Pensacola Blue Wahoos had yet another chance to take back first place from the Biloxi Shuckers in the Southern League South Division.
However, Pensacola came up short as Mississippi Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson showed why he was the first overall pick in 2015, smashing a ball over the left field wall for the game winner, 4-3, at Blue Wahoos Stadium. Biloxi had lost, too, 1-0, to the Chattanooga Lookouts in 10 innings.
Pensacola dropped to 22-16, while Biloxi is 22-15.
The Blue Wahoos had runners on base in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings but could not capitalize. In the 10th inning, Swanson hit his solo shot, who went 2-4 with three runs scored Monday. Against Pensacola, he is now 5-12 or .417 with a homer, double, two walks, four runs scored and two RBIs.
Pat Kelly gave credit to Swanson who helped Vanderbilt win the College World Series title in 2014 and to runner-up in 2015.
“He’s a good player,” Kelly said matter-of-factly. “He’s definitely one of better players on the field.”
Pensacola kept the ball game close. Nick Routt threw 3.1 scoreless innings to increase his scoreless inning streak to 17.2—which is the longest this season for the team. Routt had three strikeouts and now has 20 in 22.1 innings.
Meanwhile, Alejandro Chacin threw a wild pitch with runners on first and third that allowed Swanson to score from third and tie the score, 3-3. Chacin, who hadn’t allowed a run to score all year, had his scoreless inning streak ended at 15 innings pitched.
Kelly said Routt has been “impressive” and is hard to hit because of his “spin rate” on his fastball that he keeps up with.
“He’s very intellectual guy,” said Kelly. “Nick (Routt) really tracks it and is aware of it. Hitters just don’t have a good swing at it.”
Mostly Kelly was upset with a call in the sixth inning when it appeared Pensacola shortstop Calten Daal beat out a slow roller to Mississippi first baseman Jordy Lara. It was a close play that would have extended Daal’s hitting streak to 15 games, the longest in the Southern League this season. It also would have scored right fielder Phillip Ervin with the winning run by giving the Blue Wahoos four for the game.
Instead the game went in to extra innings for the second time this series tied, 3-3.
Mississippi pitcher Sean Newcomb, the No. 2 pitcher in the Atlanta Braves organization and 20th best prospect in the Major Leagues, bounced back from his last start when he gave up five runs on six hits and two walks in six innings to the Mobile BayBears, who won 5-3.
The Mississippi southpaw gave up two hits and three walks to Pensacola allowing three runs, one earned, and struck out seven Blue Wahoos.
Pensacola right fielder Phillip Ervin led the Blue Wahoos offense going 1-3 with a double, two RBIs and his 14th stolen base of the season. He smacked a stand up double when he lined the ball down the left field line that drove in Pensacola second baseman Alex Blandino to put Pensacola on top, 3-2, in the sixth inning. Ervin also scored left fielder Tony Renda from third on a sacrifice fly to the warning track in the fourth inning, that pulled Pensacola within, 2-1, against Mississippi.
May 16, 2016
The Pensacola Blue Wahoos came close to matching the heroics of Saturday’s walk-off win but left the tying run at third base as the Mississippi Braves held on for a 4-3 victory Sunday afternoon.
“We gave ourselves a chance,” Pensacola manager Pat Kelly said. “We got the tying run on base and winning run at the plate. He was only 90 feet away.”
Chris Ellis earned his Southern League-best sixth win for Mississippi before turning the game over to Janas, who held the Wahoos to one hit in their last three innings. Ellis helped his own cause with three of Mississippi’s eight hits, including an RBI double to open scoring in the third inning. He later scored on a single, the first of two hits for the Braves’ top prospect Dansby Swanson.
The Blue Wahoos led off the fourth inning with two walks before Gelalich’s RBI single, the first of his Double-A career, tied the game. Alex Blandino gave Pensacola a 3-2 advantage on his third home run in 10 games, but the lead was short-lived.
Swanson’s leadoff double to left field started a bases-loaded rally that forced Jackson Stephens out of the game. Former Pensacola catcher Matt Kennelly got a run home on a double play before Matt Lipka hit the eventual game-winner, an RBI single up the middle.
With Biloxi’s 2-1 loss to Chattanooga, the Wahoos remain a half-game out of first place in the Southern League South Division.
May 15, 2016
Bottom of the ninth inning, two outs and the bases loaded. It’s a situation every hitter has visualized at least a hundred times: the roar of the crowd, the crack of the bat and the thrill of victory.
The dream became a reality for Chad Wallach, who knocked a bases-clearing double to tie the game in the ninth before Pensacola walked off with a 5-4 win in extra innings.
Wahoos manager Pat Kelly turned to Wallach, his final position player available off the bench, to face the hard-throwing Mississippi Braves closer Mauricio Cabrera. Wallach wasted no time, sending the first pitch into the gap in right center field to erase a three-run deficit.
“When you’re in that situation and you’re trying to get a base hit for the team, you’re just going up there looking for one pitch,” Wallach said. “If the guy throws hard, you’re just trying to be on time. He threw it in a spot where I could hit it and I put a good swing on it.”
Pensacola took advantage of a leadoff walk in the 10th to set the scene for Blandino, whose single bounced past a drawn-in outfield. The team spilled onto the field in celebration and met Blandino behind second base with a baby powder shower.
“Water and baby powder, it’s kind of a disastrous mix,” Blandino joked. “But it’s always exciting when you can help your team walk off, especially the way we came back there, fighting and clawing our way back.”
Saturday’s game in front of a sellout crowd of 5,038 looked like a pitcher’s duel from the start as Sal Romano and Andrew Thurman combined for 16 strikeouts. Romano turned in the longest start of his Wahoos career, allowing two runs, one earned, in seven innings with a walk and seven strikeouts.
Romano worked around a two-run fifth inning, allowing a solo home run to Johan Camargo and falling victim to a pair of two-out errors. But the Pensacola starter finished on a strong note, retiring the last seven batters he faced.
“I thought the sixth inning was his best inning,” Kelly said. “He’s one of those guys that gets stronger as he goes on.”
Pensacola got a run back in the home half of the sixth as Joe Hudson doubled and scored on Bryson Smith’s sacrifice fly. But with a pair of insurance runs against El’Hajj Muhammad, Mississippi seemed to have enough insurance to stifle a Wahoos’ rally.
The Pensacola lineup wore down the closer Cabrera and spoiled a strong start from Thurman, who struck out a career-high nine batters. Wallach’s pinch-hit double was the team’s first hit in three innings, and Blandino’s single, just the fifth of the night for Pensacola, was the last one the Wahoos would need.
The Wahoos improved to 22-14 and picked up a half-game on first place in the Southern League South Division with Biloxi’s loss.
May 14, 2016
The Pensacola Blue Wahoos (21-14) dropped the final game of the series against Chattanooga (15-20), 2-1, Friday night at AT&T Field despite Calten Daal extending his hit-streak to 12 games.
Chattanooga scored first in the bottom of the first after a double by Daniel Palka to score Shannon Wilkerson.
Pensacola evened the game in the third when Tony Renda hit a sacrifice fly to bring home Eric Jagielo.
The Lookouts secured the win in the bottom of the sixth after D.J. Hicks scored on a force out by T.J. White.
LHP Amir Garrett, the Reds No. 4 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, went six innings giving up nine hits, two runs, both earned, while walking one and striking out three. After Friday, Garrett is now 3-3 with a 1.51 ERA.
The Pensacola bullpen shutdown the Lookouts the final two innings of the game. Nick Rout allowed one hit and posted two strikeouts in the seventh. Jimmy Moran, who made his first appearance of the season, struck out this side in the eighth.