Shuckers Shutout Blue Wahoos

April 22, 2016

After winning its first two series against the Mississippi Braves and Jacksonville Suns, 4-1, and getting off to its hottest start in its five-year history, the Biloxi Shuckers turned the tables on the Pensacola Blue Wahoos.

The Shuckers Tyrone Taylor hit a two-out home run to left center field in the third inning and its pitchers blanked the Blue Wahoos, 1-0, on five hits Thursday to win the series, 4-1, at MGM Park.

Pensacola lost its fourth game in a row despite pitcher Rookie Davis, who dropped to 2-1, throwing a seven-inning gem. Davis allowed just four hits, gave up no walks and struck out five. His ERA remains at one run per game.

Besides giving up the homer to Taylor, Biloxi threatened to score one other time. In the bottom of the fourth inning, Biloxi got its first two batters to second and third with one out when Brett Phillips was hit by a pitch and Jacob Nottingham singled to center. But Davis worked out of the jam by striking out the next two batters and getting a pop out to exit the inning unscathed.

Pensacola had runners on first and second with no outs in the fifth inning but Blue Wahoos third baseman Eric Jagielo grounded out into a double play to end Pensacola’s only viable threat to score in the game.

Wei-Chung Wang improved to 2-0 on the year by allowing just two hits, two walks and striking out five. Biloxi then used three relievers who spread out the Blue Wahoos other three hits over the last four innings.

Pensacola scored seven runs in its last four losses to Biloxi, which improved to 11-3 and is in first place in the Southern League South Division. Meanwhile, Pensacola dropped to 9-6 in second place 2.5 games back.

One offensive bright spot in the series was center fielder Beau Amaral, who went 1-4, and now has a six-game hitting streak. Batting .288, he was the Blue Wahoos best hitter against Biloxi, going 6-18 in the series (.333) with one home run, four RBIs, a triple and one run scored.

Starting pitchers Jackson Stephens and Davis have gone 6.2 and 7.0 innings, respectively, without giving up a walk.

Milton Shocks Tate 11-0 In Region Quarterfinal

April 21, 2016

The Milton Panthers handed the defending 7A station champion Tate Aggies an unexpected 11-0 loss Wednesday night in the Region 1-7A quarterfinals.

Savannah Rowell pitched three innings for Tate, allowing six runs, six hits and striking out five. Rowell was 1-3 at the plate for Tate, while Savannah Ulrich was 1-3 and Maddie Nelson was 1-2.

Milton advances to the Region 1-7A semifinals Tuesday at Niceville.

Tate’s Sandy Bonucchi Signs Tennis Scholarship With Faulkner State

April 20, 2016

Tate High School senior Sandy Bonucchi signed with Faulker State College Tuesday. She received a full athletic scholarship for tennis. She is pictured above with her parents (seated) David Bonucchi, who is Tate’s head tennis coach, and Hope David Bonucchi, other family members and Tate Principal Rick Shackle. Pictured below: Sandy Bonucchi with her parents and other members of the Tate tennis team.  Photo s by Dakotah Hull for, click to enlarge.

Tate Grad Rachel Wright Named Gulf South Player Of The Week

April 20, 2016

Rachel Wright was named the Gulf South Conference Softball Player of the Week and Freshman of the Week on Tuesday, making her the second UWF player to win both awards in the same week. The freshman from Tate High School in Pensacola joins Delta State’s Morgan Kazerooni as the only player in the conference with multiple Freshman of the Week honors.

Wright went 5-for-9 (.556) at the plate against No. 21 Delta State over the weekend, leading the team in hits, runs scored, home runs, RBIs, total bases, slugging percentage and on-base percentage along the way. Her weekend was highlighted by a remarkable Game 1 of the series on Saturday, in which she went 2-for-2 with two home runs, a walk, three runs scored and five RBIs. Wright is the third UWF player this year  to hit two home runs and drive in five or more runs in a single game.

The freshman was just as good on Sunday, as she went 3-for-4 at the dish and scored twice in UWF’s 6-1 win over DSU to complete the series sweep. Wright ranks second on the team this season with 12 doubles, 19 walks and 72 total bases, while her 38 runs and .497 slugging percentage rank third.

Blue Wahoos Lose To Shuckers

April 20, 2016

For the first time this season, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos find themselves trailing in a five-game Southern League series.

Biloxi Shuckers first baseman Nick Ramirez hit a two-out single in the bottom of the seventh inning — one of 10 Biloxi hits in the game — that scored center fielder Brett Phillips for a 4-3 victory over Pensacola at MGM Park.

The Shuckers came back from a, 3-2, deficit to win the game. Biloxi shortstop Javier Betancourt hit a sacrifice fly to center in the bottom of the sixth inning to score Ramirez and knot up the game, 3-3. Ramirez, who hit his first home run the game before, was 2-4 with a run scored and RBI in Tuesday’s game.

With the bases loaded in the top of the fifth inning, Blue Wahoos center fielder Beau Amaral bunted and second baseman Tony Renda scored on the suicide squeeze to tie the score at 2-2. It was Amaral’s team leading ninth RBI of the season. Then right fielder Sebastian Elizalde scored to put Pensacola on top, 3-2, when shortstop Alex Blandino ground out to shortstop.

Pensacola starter Sal Romano allowed three earned runs, giving up nine hits to Biloxi and two walks in 5.2 innings. He struck out five. However, the loss went to reliever Wandy Peralta, who gave up the game-winning run on Ramirez’s single in the seventh.

The Shuckers scored first in the third inning to go ahead, 1-0, when Phillips hit a two-out line drive single that scored second baseman Christopher McFarland, who had hit an infield single to second base.

Pensacola tied it up, 1-1, in the fourth when Blandino doubled to center and scored on a throwing error by Biloxi’s Betancourt trying to complete a double play on Blue Wahoos left fielder Phillip Ervin.

Biloxi retook the lead, 2-1, in the bottom of the fourth when McFarland singled to right field to drive in left fielder Victor Roache, who had singled to center.

Biloxi moved into first place with the victory, improving to 9-3. Pensacola fell back by a half game to 9-4. Both teams met in last year’s Southern League South Division playoffs that Biloxi won.

Jay Royals Get District Playoff Win Over Northview

April 19, 2016

The Jay Royals defeated the Northview Chiefs 6-5 in the first round of the District 3-1A playoffs Monday in Jay.

Jay took a 2-0 lead after the end of the first and scored again in the top of the second. In bottom of the second, a two run double by Jared Alif narrowed the Royals lead. The Chiefs scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth to cut Jay’s lead to one. An RBI single by Thomas Moore and a two run single by Zach Payne powered the Northview Chiefs comeback.

Josh Neese pitched a full seven for the Chiefs, allowing eight hits, six runs and striking out four.

Roman Manning was 1-4 with a run; Thomas Moore was 2-4; Luke Ward had one run; Zach Payne was 2-4 with a run;  Jared Alif was 2-3 for Northview.

Jay advances to play Chipley at 7 p.m. Tuesday with the district championship game set for 7 p.m. Thursday. photos by Ramona Preston, click to enlarge.

Biloxi Ties Series With 5-2 Win Over Pensacola

April 19, 2016

Pensacola center fielder Beau Amaral tripled in two runs in the top of the seventh inning to pull the Blue Wahoos within one run, 3-2, but it was not enough as the Biloxi Shuckers held on to win Monday in MGM Park.

Biloxi first baseman Nick Ramirez hit his first home run of the year in the bottom of the seventh inning to help the Shuckers defeat Pensacola, 5-2. The victory pulled the defending Southern League South Division champions within a half game of Pensacola, improving its record to 8-3. Pensacola remains in first place at 9-3.

It was the Shuckers who showed the dominant pitching Monday. The Blue Wahoos left fielder Tony Renda, hitting .306 for Pensacola, led off the seventh inning with the team’s first hit off reliever Tristan Archer.

Milwaukee Brewers No. 14 prospect 22-year-old, lefty Josh Hader pitched a scoreless and hitless four innings with three walks and seven strikeouts in his third start of the season. Hader was the only southpaw starter in the Brewers camp this year.

Renda, who went 1-3, got Pensacola going. Pinch-hitter Sebastian Elizalde followed him with a two-out single to center off of Archer, who was then replaced by Stephen Peterson.

Peterson promptly served up a two-out triple to Pensacola’s Amaral that drove in two runs to pull the Blue Wahoos within, 3-2. Amaral upped his team-leading RBI total to eight this season, going 1-4.

But Biloxi came right back on the homer by Ramirez.

Pensacola catcher Joe Hudson caught outfielder Garrett Cooper trying to steal to end the eighth inning and gave the Blue Wahoos one last chance to tie or win it in the ninth inning. However, Biloxi’s leading closer Jay Chapman came in and set Pensacola down in order to earn his fourth save in five games. He has yet to give up a hit or run in five innings of work and has struck out seven.

Biloxi added two runs in the fourth, when it loaded the bases on singles by third baseman Nate Orf, catcher Jacob Nottingham and Cooper. With one out, shortstop Javier Betancourt singled to center in the bottom of the fourth inning to drive in Orf and Nottingham for a 3-0 Biloxi lead.

Biloxi scored, 1-0, when Cooper singled in the bottom of the first inning to score right fielder Brett Phillips.

Amir Garrett, the Cincinnati Reds No. 3 prospect according to Baseball America, threw six innings and allowed three runs, two earned on six hits and one walk, while striking out five.

But it was Hader, the only southpaw starter in the Brewers camp this year, who starred Monday. Received in a trade with the Houston Astros, some say the young lefty may make the Brewers team as soon as this year.

Wahoos Top Biloxi

April 18, 2016

For the second time in six days, Pensacola Blue Wahoos Beau Amaral started the game with a lead-off home run. It’s also the only two times the speedy center fielder has done that in his professional career.

Between Amaral’s first inning home run and starter Daniel Wright and relievers Nick Routt, El’Hajj Muhammad, Alejandro Chacin combining on a two-hit shutout, Pensacola defeated the Biloxi Shuckers, 5-0, Sunday at MGM Stadium. It was Pensacola’s pitching staff’s second shutout in a row, after beating the Jacksonville Suns, 3-0, at home Saturday.

The win improves the Blue Wahoos record to 9-2 – it’s best start in team history – and puts them in first place in the Southern League South Division. Biloxi falls to 7-3 on the season.

On a 1-1 count against Biloxi starter Jorge Ortega, Amaral jacked the next pitch over the right center field wall to put Pensacola ahead, 1-0. That would be all the runs Pensacola needed Sunday.

Amaral worked in the offseason on his hitting with his dad, Rich, who played 10 years in the big leagues. He was 2-5 in the Biloxi game and now leads the Blue Wahoos with two home runs and six RBIs and is batting .282.

However, after Amaral’s solo blast a pitching duel ensued. Wright, who was starting in place of Nick Travieso who went on the disabled list with a pulled groin, threw five scoreless innings of one-hit ball, walked one and struck out six batters.

Biloxi’s Ortega allowed six hits in 5.2 innings of work, struck out three and gave up Amaral’s blast.

Pensacola’s bullpen then continued to shut down the Biloxi lineup, giving up one hit and striking out three. The Blue Wahoos’ pitchers have also thrown four one-run games this year.

The Blue Wahoos added four runs in the top of the ninth for some wiggle room, lighting up Biloxi’s fourth pitcher of the game Hobbs Johnson.

Third baseman Eric Jagielo started the inning with a walk, left fielder Phillip Ervin singled, Tony Renda grounded out to Biloxi third baseman Nate Orf to force out Jagielo at third. Right fielder Pin-Chieh Chen then hit an infield single to Orf who threw the ball away trying to get Chen out at first, allowing Ervin, who was 4-4 on the day, to score from second for a 2-0 Blue Wahoos lead.

Hobbs walked Pensacola catcher Joe Hudson to load the bases and then threw a wild pitch that allowed the speedy Renda to score from third putting Pensacola ahead, 3-0. Orf then committed his second error of the game on a ground ball by first baseman Ray Chang that let Chen score, 4-0.

The scoring ended when shortstop Zach Vincej singled to left field to score Hudson for a commanding, 5-0, lead for the Blue Wahoos.

Chacin capped the shutout and win by setting Biloxi down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth with two strike outs.

Blue Wahoos Get First Shutout Of The Season

April 17, 2016

The Pensacola Blue Wahoos lowered its team earned run average even more with Rookie Davis, Wandy Peralta and Kyle McMyne combining for the team’s first shutout this season.

Pensacola’s ERA dropped to an absurd Southern League-leading 1.80 in its, 3-0, victory Saturday over the Jacksonville Suns in front of a packed sellout crowd of 5,038 at Blue Wahoos Stadium.

Strong pitching has been the theme for the 2016 version of the Cincinnati Reds Double-A affiliate in its first two series against Jacksonville and the Mississippi Braves. It has thrown four one-run games.

Despite feeling under the weather when he arrived at the park, Rookie Davis picked up his second victory, leading the way with six scoreless innings. He allowed five hits, walked one and struck out four.

Davis said he didn’t tell anyone how sick he felt.

“I didn’t want it to be an excuse,” Davis said. “I wanted to put it all on the line. The other team doesn’t feel sorry for me.”

Pensacola manager Pat Kelly said he was impressed that Davis “battled through” his sickness and a hip flexor injury suffered in spring training.

The Blue Wahoos tough-to-hit pitching staff is getting a lot of credit, but Pensacola has relied on strong defense, as well.

In the fourth inning, J.T. Riddle smacked a single to right field sending Austin Dean, who drew a lead-off walk, to third. But Riddle rounded the bases too far and got caught in a run down. However, Dean decided to bolt for home and Pensacola first baseman Brandon Dixon gunned him out at the plate on a nice tag by catcher Chad Wallach.

“Our ERA under two shows how good our defense is,” said Davis, who has allowed one run in 11 innings for a 0.82 ERA. “It’s not just the pitching staff. We’re not averaging 27 strikeouts per game. We have a great defense behind us.”

Kelly said it was a good thing the rundown of Riddle took so long.

“Dean got a little anxious and Wallach made a good play on a tough throw,” Kelly said.

Pensacola scored first in the fourth inning when Davis hit a slow and high chopper to second base that scored third baseman Tony Renda from third. Blue Wahoos center fielder Beau Amaral then doubled down the right field line to drive in both Dixon and Wallach and just like that Pensacola led, 3-0.

It was the 22-year-old Davis’ first RBI since he was an 18-year-old playing in high school. He said he wasn’t trying to hit the ball to the opposite field, his swing was just behind.

“I was a little bit late,” Davis said. “I always pictured my first RBI coming on a hit.”

Pensacola has now won its first two series and is 8-2 and in first place in the Southern League South Division. It’s the team’s best start in its five-year history.

The Wahoos travel to Biloxi to play the Milwaukee Brewers Double-A affiliate the Shuckers Sunday afternoon. The Shuckers are in second place this season. The game will be a rematch of last year’s South Division playoffs that pitted the two teams against each other and was Pensacola’s first playoff appearance since it was established in 2012. Biloxi won the playoff series.

Also Saturday, Pensacola second baseman Alex Blandino, the Reds sixth best prospect, was activated Friday after an injury in spring training while playing in the World Baseball Classic qualifier for Nicaragua. He got his first hit Saturday in his seventh plate appearance on a blistering line drive to left field. He’s now 1-7 in two games.

Tate Wins District Title; Jay Falls To South Walton

April 16, 2016

Tate 7, Pace 2

For the third year in a row, the Tate Lady Aggies won the District 1-7A title Friday night 7-2 over Pace at Escambia High School.

Savannah Rowell recorded 10 strike outs in seven innings and allowed just two runs and seven hits. Rowell was also 2-4 with two RBIs and run. Savannah Ullrich and Hannah Brown bother homered for the Lady Aggies.

Other Tate hitters — Hannah Brown 3-3 HR, 2 RBIs, 2 R; Savannah Rowell 2-4 2 RBIs, R; Savannah Ullrich 1-2 HR, 2 RBIs, R.

Tate will host Milton on Wednesday in regional action, while Pace will hit the road to Niceville.

South Walton 3, Jay 1

The Jay Lady Royals lost Friday night 3-1 to South Walton at Northview in the Lady Royal’s sixth consecutive appearance inthe District 3-1A title game.

Destiny Herring pitched seven innings for Jay, allowing three runs, eight hits and striking out three. Micheala Stewart was 1-3 with a run for Jay.

Jay will travel Thursday night to Franklin County for the regional semi-finals.

Pictured top: The Tate Lady Aggies celebrate their district championship win Friday night. Courtesy photo for, click to enlarge.

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