Wahoos Earn 5-2 Win Over Jackson

May 17, 2017

The last time Kelly Mella earned a W came in a Triple-A game with the Louisville Bats on Sept. 5 when he pitched seven innings, gave up one run and struck out six batters.

Mella’s first win in Double-A for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos came Tuesday in his eighth start. The right-hander’s five scoreless innings and Aristides Aquino’s third homer in six games propelled Pensacola to a, 5-2, victory over the Jackson Generals at The Ballpark at Jackson.

The series is now tied at 2-2. Pensacola improved its record to 21-18 and remains tied for first with the Mississippi Braves in the Southern League South Division. Jackson dropped to 22-16 and fell into second place in the North Division.

The 23-year-old Mella, the Cincinnati Reds No. 19 ranked prospect, allowed just three hits, walked three and struck out four. He joins the rest of the rotation in the win column with a 1-3 record and 3.92 ERA.

Mella struck out the side in the third inning. He also benefited from a double play in the first inning, Pensacola left fielder Gabriel Guerrero throwing Jackson left fielder Rudy Flores out at second base trying to stretch a single in the fourth inning, and catcher Joe Hudson throwing out center fielder Reyes trying to steal second base to end the fourth inning.

Pensacola also got a big contribution from right fielder Aristides Aquino who went 2-5. His single to right field drove in third baseman Josh VanMeter and put the Blue Wahoos up, 2-0, in the first inning. VanMeter had doubled in second baseman Alex Blandino for the first run of the inning.

Aquino came through in the fifth inning when he smashed a two-run homer to left center field that also scored first baseman Angelo Gumbs, giving Pensacola a, 5-0, lead. Gumbs had doubled in VanMeter to make the score, 3-0.

Aquino, who won the Reds’ Minor League Player of the Year Award last season with the High-A Daytona Tortugas, now has three homers in his last six games and is tied with center fielder Brian O’Grady for the team lead with five homers. He also is showing flashes of coming out of his slump, going 8-25 in his last six games (.320).

Blandino finished the game 2-4 with two doubles and a run scored for Pensacola. VanMeter also had a notable game at the plate, going 1-2 with his ninth double of the season, three walks, a run scored and one RBI.

A trio of relievers finished up the game for Mella and preserved his victory. Ariel Hernandez pitched two innings and struck out four. Blue Wahoos closer Jimmy Herget earned his 10th save, which is tied for the Southern League lead, and struck out two hitters. The 23-year-old now has fanned 32 hitters in 18 innings in his first season in Double-A.

Jackson’s Flores Hits Walk-Off To Beat Wahoos 4-3

May 16, 2017

Jackson Generals left fielder Rudy Flores smacked a two-out, walk-off single to help his team rally from three runs down to beat the Pensacola Blue Wahoos 4-3 on Monday at The Ballpark at Jackson.

Jackson center fielder Evan Marzilli scored the winning run after leading off the ninth inning with a single to right field.

The Blue Wahoos fell to 6-8 on the season in games decided by one run. They are 20-18 on the year and a game behind the Mississippi Braves in the South Division.

Jackson, the defending Southern League champion, improved to 22-15 and leads the North Division by a half game over the Chattanooga Lookouts and Tennessee Smokies.

Blue Wahoos closer Brennan Bernardino came on in the ninth with the game tied, 3-3, but gave up two hits and struck out one to pick up the loss. He is 0-2 with a 3.38 ERA.

Pensacola right-hander Luis Castillo has failed to get a decision in his past two starts, even though he allowed one run in seven innings against the Birmingham Barons and on Monday gave up just two runs in five innings to Jackson. Considered the seventh best prospect in the Cincinnati Reds organization by MLB Pipeline.com, Castillo scattered six hits to the Generals, walked two and struck out one.

Castillo, who is 1-2 on the year with a 3.07 ERA, last earned a victory April 13 against the Biloxi Shuckers in his second start of the season.

He was relieved by Domingo Tapia, who blew his second save opportunity of the season when he gave up the tying run in the sixth to Jackson. Generals first baseman Kevin Cron led off the sixth inning by crushing a fly ball over the center field wall 390-feet away to tie the game, 3-3. It was his Southern League-leading ninth homer of the season.

All three of Pensacola’s runs happened in the third inning. Blue Wahoos center fielder Brian O’Grady hit his second homer in two games and now has five on the season to lead the ball club.

With two outs, Pensacola second baseman Alex Blandino singled to left field and shortstop Blake Trahan singled to right field and then stole second base. That’s when Mr. Clutch Josh VanMeter stepped to the plate and delivered a single to left that drove in both Blandino and Trahan to put the Blue Wahoos ahead, 3-0.

VanMeter, Pensacola’s third baseman, is 9-19 (.474) with 12 of his team-leading 17 RBIs coming with runners in scoring position and two outs this year.

Castillo gave up his two runs to Jackson in the fourth inning when second baseman Kevin Medrano doubled in Cron and then starting pitcher Taylor Clark hit a sacrifice fly to score catcher Oscar Hernandez to cut Pensacola’s lead to, 3-2.

Northview Girls Weightlifting Team Presents Season Awards

May 15, 2017

The Northview High School girls weightlifting team celebrated their season and presented the following honors:

MVL- Most valuable lifter – Audriene Odom
Coach’s Awards
Dedication to the Team with Spirit- Daysha Kite
Dedication to Lifting All Year- Audriene Odom
Dedication to Overcoming Any Obstacles -Lexxi Bagget
Leadership – Mallory Gibson
Photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Wahoos Top Jackson

May 15, 2017

Pensacola Blue Wahoos manager Pat Kelly told his hitters that they needed to take advantage of opportunities when they had them.

That’s exactly what they did with two big, two-out clutch hits by left fielder Gabriel Guerrero in the fifth inning with runners on first and second and by right fielder Aristides Aquino in the seventh inning with the bases loaded to overcome the Jackson Generals, 5-2, Sunday at The Ballpark at Jackson.

Meanwhile, Austin Ross gave up just two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to Jackson. The 28-year-old starter worked 6.2 innings, scattered six hits and a walk and struck out five. He earned the win to improve to 4-0 and owns the best ERA in the Southern League at 1.13.

Pensacola scored first in the fifth inning when center fielder Brian O’Grady reached home on a sacrifice fly by third baseman Josh VanMeter his 15th RBI of the season. With runners on first and second with two outs, Guerrero then slapped a single to center field to score second baseman Alex Blandino. Guerrero was 2-5 Sunday and now has 16 multi-hit games in the 35 games he has played and is hitting .295 to lead the team.

In the seventh inning, Aquino stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. Aquino smacked a double to center field that scored both Blandino and VanMeter, which gave the Blue Wahoos a 4-0 lead. Aquino went 2-4 with a walk and two RBIs and leads Pensacola with 16 RBIs.

Pensacola tacked on an insurance run in the eighth inning when O’Grady pulled his fourth homer of the season with a solo shot to right field for put the Blue Wahoos ahead, 5-2.

Jackson did score two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to pull within, 4-2. Pinch-hitter Rudy Flores hit his 11th double of the season that drove in third baseman Dawel Lugo but center field Evan Marzilli was thrown out at home when Pensacola’s Guerrero threw to shortstop Black Trahan, who threw a strike to catcher Adrian Nieto. Generals catcher Michael Perez then singled to right field to drive in Flores.

Pensacola reliever Jimmy Herget nailed down his ninth save, which is second in the Southern League, with one walk and two strikeouts in the ninth inning. He now has 30 strike outs in 17 innings.

Pensacola improved to 20-17 and are in a first-place tie with the Mississippi Braves in the South Division. Jackson fell to 21-15 and lead the North Division and Southern League with the best record.

Jackson Blanks Wahoos 3-0

May 14, 2017

The Jackson Generals hit three home runs to defeat the Pensacola Blue s in the first game of the five-game series Saturday at The Ballpark at Jackson.

Jackson went ahead, 1-0, in the second inning when left fielder Rudy Flores led off with a homer to center field. In the eighth inning, both Dawel Lugo and Kevin Cron hit home runs in the eighth inning and the Generals went on to win, 3-0, Saturday over Pensacola.

Pensacola dropped to 19-17 on the season but remain tied with the Biloxi Shuckers atop the Southern League South Division. Jackson improved to 21-14 to remain in first in the North Division with the best record in the Southern League.

It was the third time this season that the Blue Wahoos have been shut out in a game. Pensacola was blanked despite having eight hits to Jackson’s seven. The Blue Wahoos left 14 runners on base and hit 0-9 with runners in scoring position.

Pensacola ace Tyler Mahle lost his first game of the season to drop to 5-1, despite allowing only one run in seven innings and giving up five hits and two walks and striking out six.

Reliever Geoff Broussard (2-0, 2.08 ERA) gave up the other two solo home runs in relief in the eighth inning.

Meanwhile, Jackson starter Brad Keller improved to 3-1 with a 2.76 ERA. Keller worked six scoreless innings, scattering five hits and five walks, and striking out three.

Daniel Gibson, Joey Krehbiel and Gabriel Moya, who earned his sixth save, combined for three innings of scoreless relief and struck out three.

Leading Pensacola at the plate were third baseman Josh VanMeter who was 2-4 with a walk and catcher Joe Hudson who got on base all four at bats going 2-2 and walking twice.

Wahoos Top Birmingham, 6-0 To Close Series

May 13, 2017

Pensacola Blue Wahoos right fielder Aristides Aquino smacked only three hits against the Birmingham Barons. Two left the ballpark and the other bounced into the right field corner for a triple.

The 22-year-old playing in his first year in Double-A crushed a three-run homer to left field in the fourth inning Friday to lead Pensacola to a, 6-0, victory over the Birmingham Barons in front of 4,567 at Blue Wahoos Stadium. Pensacola snapped a three-series losing streak, defeating Birmingham, 4-1.

Despite struggling in the Southern League at the plate, hitting just .164, the No. 6 prospect in the Cincinnati Reds farm system leads the Blue Wahoos with four home runs and is tied for first in RBIs with 14. Aquino hit a two-run blast on Thursday for homers in back-to-back games.

He also tripled into the right field corner in the eighth inning to drive in first baseman Eric Jagielo that put Pensacola ahead, 5-0.

“I’ve been working hard,” Aquino said. “I didn’t lose my confidence.”

The stats don’t matter to Aquino, he said.

“I don’t think about it,” the Dominican Republic prospect said. “I do what I can to help the team win.”

Pensacola manager Pat Kelly said new hitters often struggle when facing Southern League pitching, which he considers among the best in the minors. He enjoyed seeing the right-handed hitting Aquino triple to the opposite field in right field.

“Hitting the other way is a great sign,” Kelly said.

Aquino’s homer capped a four-run inning. The other run in the fourth scored when Jagielo ripped a line drive to right field that drove in third baseman Josh VanMeter with the first run of the game.

Jagielo, who went 1-3 with a walk, scored twice and drove in one run Friday, was 6-15 (.400) in the series against Birmingham and raised his average 38 points from .186 to .224.

The other hot bat against the Barons’ was left fielder Tyler Goeddel, who was 9-21 (.429) with a homer and three RBIs.

Meanwhile, Deck McGuire, the No. 11 pick in the first round by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2010, threw six scoreless innings. The 6-foot-6 righty allowed three hits, walked three and struck out seven to pick up his first win since April 20 against the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp.

McGuire, who has bounced around between five teams in six minor league seasons, improved to 2-2 with a 3.40 ERA.

Kelly pointed out that all three of McGuire’s walks in the game came with two outs.

“He pitched well but he was a little tentative with two outs,” Kelly said. “He had a tough game in Chattanooga. It’s nice to get a win in the next start.”

The Pensacola bullpen also blanked Birmingham. Reliever Ariel Hernandez threw two scoreless innings, giving up three hits, and Brennan Bernardino finished off the ninth inning, allowing just one hit, one walk and striking out two.

It was the Pensacola pitching staff’s fifth shutout of the season and dropped its Southern League-leading ERA to 2.62.

Pensacola improved to 19-16 and remain tied with the Biloxi Shuckers for first place in the South Division.

Wahoos Beat The Barons

May 12, 2017

Pensacola Blue Wahoos catcher Adrian Nieto continued to come through on offense for his team.

With two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, he smacked a hard liner to left field to score second baseman Alex Blandino, who had doubled with two outs, to give the Blue Wahoos a, 5-4, victory over the Birmingham Barons Thursday in front of 4,016 at Blue Wahoos Stadium. Pensacola leads the five-game series, 3-1, and clinched its first series after losing two in a row.

Nieto now has four RBIs in six at bats with two outs and runners in scoring position. Plus, the 27-year-old is batting .353 in his last six games with one home run, that he hit Tuesday, and two RBIs.

Nieto agreed with Pensacola manager Pat Kelly that his offense is improving with more regular at bats. Both he and Pensacola catcher Joe Hudson were limited in playing time as Cincinnati Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco did his rehabilitation with the Blue Wahoos for the first 20 games before returning to the big leagues.

Nieto, who played 48 games with the Chicago White Sox in 2014, also has been watching video from his 2013 season when he had his best year at the plate, hitting .285 for the High-A Potomac Nationals.

“It helps to get your at-bats and get into a rhythm,” Nieto said. “I’ve made a few adjustments here and there watching old film from 2013. The Reds told me, ‘Get back to where you were.’ To have that freedom feels great.”

Plus, he smiled and admitted he has some extra incentive at the plate, having played for Birmingham in 2015 and being selected for the All-Star game.

“That was a win that I really wanted,” Nieto said. “Hopefully, we’ll get our fourth one (Friday).”

Blue Wahoos right fielder Aristides Aquino earned his fourth hit in 38 at-bats by sending a high, deep fly ball over the left field wall that also brought in first baseman Eric Jagielo to put Pensacola on top, 4-1. Two of those four hits are homers.

It was Aquino’s first homer in 21 at bats after knocking one out May 1 against Biloxi. His two-run blast came after having struck out five times in a row against Barons pitchers.

The lead held up until the seventh inning when Pensacola reliever Ismael Guillon gave up two runs on three hits to the Barons. DH Nick Basto, who hit a solo shot in the first inning, knocked in second baseman Eddy Alvarez with a single, pulling Birmingham within, 4-3. Barons third baseman Jake Peters scored the tying run, 4-4, when right fielder Mason Robbins lined a single to center.

The two runs scored on Guillon denied starter Keury Mella his first Double-A victory. He remains the only Pensacola starter without a win this season.

“It’s a shame but the win will come (for Mella),” said Kelly.

Mella threw 5.2 innings, allowed two runs on six hits, walked two and struck out four. He is 0-3 with a 4.50 ERA.

Jimmy Herget relieved Guillon in the eighth with the game tied, 4-4, and got the last five outs, including striking out the side in the top of the ninth to pick up the win and even his record at 1-1. Herget has a 2.25 ERA.

Pensacola took the lead, 2-1, in the third inning when third baseman Josh VanMeter hit a two-out single to score DH Leon Landry from second base with the go-ahead run. VanMeter is hitting 8-18 with 10 RBIs in that situation. The first run scored in the inning when catcher Adrian Nieto crossed the plate from third on a sharp ground out to third by left fielder Tyler Goeddel.

Peter smashed a double into the left field corner that scored Alvarez from first to cut the Blue Wahoos lead in the fifth inning to, 4-2.

Pensacola upped its record to 18-16 and are in a tie with the Biloxi Shuckers for first place in the South Division.

West Florida’s Zabelle Signs With Coastal Alabama

May 11, 2017

West Florida High School senior Nicholas Zabelle signed a baseball scholarship Wednesday with Coastal Alabama Community College, Brewton Campus.  Zabelle started out playing t-ball and little league baseball at both the  Molino and Cantonment ballparks.  He has lived in Molino with his parents since he was 5-years old.

Pictured: (L-R, front) Dawn Zabelle, Nicholas Zabelle, John Zabelle (back) WFHS Head Coach and Athletic Director Marc Conti, Principal Shenna Payne and Coastal Alabama Head Baseball coah Darrell Blevins. Photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

NWE Spring Clinic Saturday For Football, Cheerleading

May 11, 2017

The 2017 Northwest Escambia Spring Clinic Kick Off will be this Saturday from 9 a.m. until noon at the First Baptist Church of Bratt.

NWE is kicking off 2017 registration with a cheer clinic and a punt, pass and kick competition.

The punt, pass and kick competition will be for boys and girls, $5 to participate. The greatest total yards from each age group will win a trophy. In Cheerleading ($15), cheerleaders will learn a new cheer, jumps and different stunts.

Registration will be held for both football players and cheerleaders for the upcoming 2017 season.

The First Baptist Church of Bratt is located at 4570 Highway 4, just west of Northview High School. For more information, call Greg Gibson at (251) 234-4716 or Tonya Lloyd at (251) 363-1885.

Blandino Walk-Off Homer Win In Wahoos Win

May 11, 2017

Pensacola Blue Wahoos starting pitcher Luis Castillo earned a career-high 10 strikeouts and Alex Blandino hit a walk-off home run to lead their team to a, 2-1, victory over the Birmingham Barons.

For both Blandino and Castillo, their performances Wednesday were sweet redemption. Castillo was chased after 1.2 innings in his last start and Blandino has been mired in a season-long slump, hitting .195.

But Castillo gave the Blue Wahoos seven strong innings, allowing one run on five hits and walking none. Blandino blasted a solo homer, his first of the season, over the fence in left center.

Pensacola manager Pat Kelly said it was the type of game both players needed.

“(Castillo) had a super slider,” Kelly said. “The best I’ve seen all year.”

He said he thought that Blandino was due for a breakout game. Although, the Pensacola second baseman is now hitting .200 on the season he does have 18 walks this season for an on-base percentage of .419.

“He started slow,” Kelly said. “But last four or five days he has been swinging much better and getting his walks. He just hasn’t gotten his base hits.”

For the Blue Wahoos it was their second walk-off this season, after setting a record 12 last season. Blandino said he is staying positive at the plate with just 81 at bats so far in 26 games.

“The Wahoo Way lives on,” said an excited Blandino after the game. “I’m being aggressive early in the counts and staying with my approach. That’s the key to success over the long haul.”

Pensacola left fielder Tyler Goeddel crushed a lead-off home run to left field to put the Blue Wahoos ahead, 1-0, in the first inning.

In the second inning, Goeddel showed off his arm as well fielding a hit by Birmingham left fielder Courtney Hawkins and gunning down right fielder Mason Robbins at home plate.

But the Blue Wahoos would be shutout by Birmingham starter Jordan Guerrero over the next four innings and by relievers Robinson Leyer and Aaron Bummer over the next three innings. Guerrero was trying to earn his first victory of the season but left with a 1-1 tie after working five innings, allowing five hits, walking three and striking out seven.

“Guerrero has a really good change up and mixes up his delivery,” Kelly said. “He had us off balance.”

Meanwhile, Castillo overcame his last start against the Chattanooga Lookouts when he gave up five runs and lasted 1.2 innings. He threw 38 pitches in the second inning in the cold, dreary weather.

But in Pensacola, the 24-year-old Dominican pitched like the 17th best prospect in the Cincinnati Reds’ organization. Although he has not won a game since April 13, he is 1-2 with a 3.00 ERA.

Pensacola now leads the five-game series against the Barons, 2-1, and improved to 17-16 to tie Mississippi Braves for first place in the South Division.

“It was good to pull out a close game, we ‘ve had a lot of close losses,” Blandino said. “Hopefully, we’ll win the series and keep moving forward.”

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