July 27, 2016
The Montgomery Biscuits welcomed the Pensacola Blue Wahoos to Montgomery Riverwalk Stadium by jumping out to a 10-1 lead.
The Biscuits knocked out usually reliable starter Tyler Mahle by scoring eight runs against him in his 4.2 innings of work and went on to win, 10-5, Tuesday.
Montgomery benefited from two two-run home runs by right fielder Justin Williams in the third inning and shortstop Willy Adames in the fifth inning off of Mahle. Mahle fell to 5-2, allowing nine of Montgomery’s 11 hits, walking. two and striking out one.
Pensacola fell to 23-27 on the road. The first half Southern League champions are now 15-16 in the second half. Montgomery improved to 19-12 and leads the North Division.
Montgomery didn’t take long to start rolling. DH Cade Gotta led off the bottom of the first inning with a double and came around to score on shortstop Adames ground out to third base to put the Biscuits up, 1-0. Adames was 2-4, scored twice and knocked in three runs.
Biscuits left fielder Granden Goetzman doubled to start the second inning and reached third on a wild pitch. Montgomery Williams then smashed a homer to left center to bring in Goetzman for a 3-0 lead.
Montgomery center fielder Braxton Lee doubled and went to third on an errant throw by Mahle trying to pick him off. Second baseman Thomas Coyle then hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score Braxton and put Montgomery ahead, 4-0.
Pensacola finally got on the board in the third inning to pull within, 4-1, when catcher Chad Wallach singled to third base and then Alex Blandino singled to shortstop. Both first baseman Jake Bauer and Adames were charged with throwing errors on the play to make the run unearned.
It was the only run that Montgomery starter Taylor Guerrieri would give up to Pensacola in six innings to improve to 11-4 becoming the first pitcher in the Southern League to 11 wins. He gave up four hits, one walk and struck out five.
Montgomery tacked on another run in the fourth when Goetzman tripled and was driven in by Williams single to right field for a 5-1 lead.
The Biscuits extended its lead in the fifth inning to 7-1 on a two-run homer to left center by Adames that also scored third baseman Kean Wong. Williams then doubled on a pop up to left field that deflected off of Pensacola shortstop Zach Vincej’s glove and scored Goetzman to go ahead, 8-1.
Vincej went 2-2 with a walk, and is now batting .333 in July, his best monthly average this season.
Montgomery scored two more runs in the seventh inning to make the score, 10-1. Williams smacked a line drive to center filed that scored both Adames and Bauers.
Pensacola finally broke out with four runs in the eighth inning to pull within, 10-5. Blue Wahoos right fielder Sebastian Elizalde singled in Blandino. Pensacola third baseman Taylor Sparks, who was 2-5, Tuesday scored on a wild pitch after a single to center. Blue Wahoos left fielder Jeff Gelalich singled to center to score Elizalde. The fourth and final run crossed the plate when DH Brandon Dixon, who had walked, scored on a wild pitch.
In the ninth inning, Pensacola loaded the bases with one out, but Montgomery closer Jeff Ames came in and faced Brandon Dixon, who popped out to the catcher, and Jeff Gelalich, who struck out, to end the threat. Batters are now, 0-10, against Ames with the bases loaded.
July 26, 2016
Tate High School Aggie wide receiver Jake Henry has committed to play for Appalachian State of the Sunbelt Conference. Submitted photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.
July 25, 2016
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is offering a free hunter safety internet-completion course this month in Molino.
The course will be held July 27 from 6-10 p.m. and July 30 from 7-10 a.m. at the Molino Community Center at 6450 Highway 95A in Molino.
Students who have taken the online course and wish to complete the classroom portion must bring the online-completion report with them.
All firearms, ammunition and materials are provided free of charge. Students should bring a pen or pencil and paper. An adult must accompany children younger than 16 at all times.
Anyone born on or after June 1, 1975, must pass an approved hunter safety course and have a hunting license to hunt alone (unsupervised). The FWC course satisfies hunter-safety training requirements for all other states and Canadian provinces.
Those interested in attending a course can register online and obtain information about future hunter safety classes at MyFWC.com/HunterSafety or by calling the FWC’s regional office in Panama City at (850) 265-3676.
July 25, 2016
Despite managing only two hits Sunday, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos still had a chance to tie or win the game in the ninth inning, trailing the Biloxi Shuckers by one run.
However, after Pensacola catcher Chad Wallach hit a leadoff double to start the ninth, Biloxi closer Stephen Kohlscheen set the next three batters down in order for his 12th save to nail down the Shuckers, 1-0, victory.
It was the least Kohlscheen could do after Brandon Woodruff gave the sellout Blue Wahoos crowd of 5,038 a gutty performance. He missed his last start because his brother, Blake, died in an ATV accident Friday, July 15.
Woodruff improved to 5-6 with a 3.65 ERA by allowing one hit and striking out nine in six innings. He started the game by striking out the side and had a perfect game until Pensacola right fielder Sebastian Elizalde got a hit to lead off the fifth inning.
Pensacola starter Barrett Astin set down 15 of the 16 batters he faced in five innings of work. The only hit he gave up was a two-out solo shot belted by — who else? — Woodruff on a “cutter that didn’t cut.” It was Woodruff’s first professional home run.
“I’ve known Woody for six or seven years now,” said Astin, who has now gone14.2 innings without giving up a walk. “The Milwaukee Brewers couldn’t ask more out of him. He was probably high on adrenalin. That was good to see.”
In his sixth spot starts this season, Astin is 2-2 with a 3.96 ERA.
Pensacola manager Pat Kelly was well aware that Woodruff was pitching just after his brother died. His brother’s last tweet was about Brandon’s season-high 10 strikeout game July 13 that earned him the Southern League’s Pitcher of the Week honor.
“That’s an amazing thing for me that he was pitching with a heavy heart,” Kelly said. “It was a really incredible feat.”
Woodruff has now given up four hits in 13 innings to Pensacola and struck out 19. Biloxi manager Mike Guerrero said Woodruff was begging to pitch the seventh but was replaced with Shuckers reliever Steve Peterson.
During both of Pensacola’s losses in this five-game series to Biloxi, the Blue Wahoos earned only two hits each game and combined for 28 strikeouts.
“He has got great stuff — a 97-mile-per-hour fastball, a really good slider and a changeup,” Kelly said. “I want to know what he’s doing in this league.”
Pensacola, though, won its second straight series at home in the second half and have now won nine of 10 this season. It is 15-15 in the second half and 56-44 overall.
The Blue Wahoos ended up winning 11 of 15 home games against the Shuckers this season.
July 24, 2016
Blue Wahoos down Shuckers, 7-3, to clinch series.
Pensacola right fielder Sebastian Elizalde has struggled at the plate in the second half but Saturday he looked like his old self, smashing a two-run homer over the right field fence in the first inning.
Elizalde also finished the game with four RBIs, while starting pitcher Sal Romano limited Biloxi to three hits to lead Pensacola to a 7-3 victory Saturday in front of its 23rd sellout of 5,038 this at Blue Wahoos Stadium.
The former Mexican League player now has four homers and 30 RBIs and saw his batting average reverse its steady fall and go up four points to .270 in his first season in Double-A for Pensacola. He was 2-4 with two runs scored and it was his third game this season that he’s knocked in four runs.
“I always say baseball is the same everywhere,” Elizalde said. “A lot from Mexico come to states. We have a chance. We have to just try to enjoy it.”
The 24-year-old Elizalde signed with the Cincinnati Reds organization in 2013 and is playing in his third season in the minors. He started his baseball career with four seasons in the Mexican League for the Sultanes de Monterrey.
In bottom of first inning, Elizalde got all of a fastball rocketing it over the right field wall for a two-out, two-run homer. His fourth dinger of the season also scored Alex Blandino who singled on a ground ball to left field.
Blue Wahoos shortstop Zach Vincej then drove in the third run of the first inning on a line drive that bounced off the left field wall, allowing Pensacola third baseman Taylor Sparks to score from first and give the team a 3-0 lead.
Elizalde hit a line drive to the wall in the left center gap for a stand up double in the third inning that drove in left fielder Jeff Gelalich to put Pensacola up, 4-0. Sparks then clobbered a grounder past the third baseman to score Elizalde to make the score, 5-0.
Elizalde came through one more time in the seventh inning when his ground out to second base scored Blandino to give Pensacola a 7-1 lead.
Pensacola manager Pat Kelly said Elizalde has always played well on offense and worked hard to improve his fielding. He said he could see Elizalde playing one of the corner outfield spots for the Reds one day.
“To me, he has always hit wherever he’s gone,” Kelly said.
Part of that, Elizalde said, is being able to clown around with his teammates to stay relaxed.
“We have to have fun and enjoy it, ‘cause baseball is a game,” he said. “There’s no pressure. It’s a game. Enjoy it.”
Elizalde also gave kudos to Pensacola starting pitcher Sal Romano.
In 11 starts, Romano, the Cincinnati Reds’ 23rd round draft pick in 2011, lost nine games before blanking Biloxi over seven innings for his second win of the season on July 12. He picked up his third win of the season (3-10, 4.25) by limiting Biloxi to one unearned run on three hits and two walks, while striking out three in 5.2 innings.
His three strikeouts gave him 100 for the season in 103.2 innings, making him the first Southern League pitcher to reach the mark.
Romano gave way to Pensacola relief pitcher Abel De Los Santos, who earned a save in his first Blue Wahoos appearance, with the bases loaded in the sixth. De Los Santos blew two fastballs in the low-90s past catcher Rene Garcia and then caught him looking on a 76 mph fastball.
“Those are two power arms right there,” Kelly said about Romano and De Los Santos. “When you have a breaking ball that good (like De Los Santos) and a 94 mph fastball you have a little bit of escapeability.”
Kelly said, too, that Romano has been a better pitcher than the one in the first half.
“He’s changed his pregame preparation and we’ve seen a big change in the second half,” Kelly said.
Pensacola improved to 15-14 in the second half and the first half South Division champions are 56-43 overall. Biloxi fell to 10-18 in the second half and 50-49 on the season.
July 23, 2016
The Biloxi Shuckers got the better of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos lineup Friday, allowing just two hits in a 3-2 victory over Pensacola in front of 4,612 fans at Blue Wahoos Stadium. The Shuckers snapped a five-game losing streak with the win.
The Blue Wahoos had the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth inning and were down by just one run with its leading home run hitter, Brandon Dixon, at the plate.
Pensacola manager Pat Kelly said he had confidence Dixon would get a hit.
“I’ll take my chances with Dixon and the bases loaded,” Kelly said. “The eighth inning was a huge chance to win the game.”
But the best chance in the game to score for the Blue Wahoos, who earned just two hits in the game, was a missed opportunity. Dixon is now 1-7 with three strikeouts this season with the bases loaded.
Pensacola dropped to 14-14 in the second half and the first half South Division champions are 55-43 overall.
Biloxi starting lefty Wei-Chung Wang started the game by striking out the first five Blue Wahoos hitters he faced. He ended up striking out a career-high nine in 6.1 innings. He gave up just two hits and one walk and allowed one run on a solo blast by Pensacola catcher Joe Hudson.
Wang has now won three of four games against Pensacola this season. The native of Taiwan improved to 5-5 in 17 starts for the Shuckers and lowered his ERA to 3.61.
“He’s very deceptive,” Kelly said. “He changes speeds. His fastball ranges from 87-to-94 (mph). I don’t think he gets the credit for being very good. He has better stuff than people think.”
Meanwhile, Jackson Stephens, who dropped to 6-9 this year, also threw a solid start. He gave up two solo homers among seven hits allowed, walked two and struck out four in six innings pitched.
“Two solo home runs usually don’t beat you,” Kelly said.
One of those homers was by center fielder Brett Phillips, who snapped a 0-27 skid Friday, by going 3-5 with a run scored, stolen base and two RBIs. He also hit a two-out single in the seventh to drive in left fielder Johnny Davis for Biloxi’s third run of the game. The other homer was hit by second baseman Tom Belza.
“He’s a good hitter,” Kelly said about Phillips. “You’re not going to hold him down forever. He made some adjustments. He widened his stance with two strikes. Now, we have to make some adjustments to him.”
Pensacola took advantage of four walks in the eighth inning. Blue Wahoos center fielder Beau Amaral drove in the only other run on a sacrifice fly near the warning track in center field with the bases loaded that scored right fielder Jeff Gelalich and advanced the other two runners on base.
July 22, 2016
Pensacola Blue Wahoos starting pitcher Rookie Davis blanked the Biloxi Shuckers for the second time in his last three starts since lasting just two innings against the Mobile BayBears.
Davis pitched just one batter over the minimum in five scoreless innings helping Pensacola to a 3-0 victory Thursday over the Biloxi Shuckers in front of 4,448 fans at Blue Wahoos Stadium.
Two of his last three starts have come at home against Biloxi, who Davis has shutout over 12 innings. In his last three starts, Davis has pitched 18 innings, allowing two earned runs and one walk, and striking out 18.
Both Davis and Pensacola manager Pat Kelly said that he has finally 100 percent healthy. Davis improved to a team-leading 8-3 and lowered his ERA to 2.68.
“It’s been a long year of tedious injuries, nagging injuries,” said Davis, who’s been bothered by hip and groin injuries and missed three starts. “It’s been frustrating for me.”
Davis was taken out after five innings when he took a hard hit grounder by Biloxi right fielder Tyrone Taylor off his thumb on his glove hand in the fourth inning.
“I think he’s finally healthy,” Kelly said about Davis. “His velocity is up and we’re seeing him use his legs a lot more.”
Davis can thank first baseman Eric Jagielo for facing just 16 batters, despite giving up four hits. Jagielo caught two line drives and stepped on first for a double play twice. Biloxi’s Taylor singled in the first inning but then got caught stealing.
In his start Thursday, Davis threw five innings allowed four hits, no walks and struck out four.
Davis wasn’t the only one to turn in a good pitching performance. Making his Pensacola debut was reliever Abel De Los Santos, who the Cincinnati Reds claimed off of waivers from the Washington Nationals.
He entered the game in the eighth inning and ended up pitching two scoreless innings, gave up one walk and struck out one.
Biloxi, who is hitting a Southern League worst .233 on the season, is now 13 for 63 (.206) in the first two games against the Blue Wahoos. The Shuckers entered the series hitting .209 against Pensacola pitchers, who have a Southern League-leading 3.24 ERA. Tonight marked the eighth shutout for the season.
Pensacola jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Blue Wahoos center fielder Beau Amaral and Alex Blandino led off with walks to start the game. Amaral scored when right fielder Sebastian Elizalde hit a ground ball to left field and Blandino came in on second baseman Brandon Dixon’s sacrifice fly near the warning track in center to go ahead, 2-0. Blue Wahoos shortstop Zach Vincej then hit a slow dribbler to third base for a single that drove in Elizalde to go up, 3-0.
Biloxi starting pitcher Taylor Jungmann, who struck out 12 Pensacola hitters in 4.2 innings in his last start against them, combined with relievers Mitch Lambson and Tristan Archer to retire 13 Blue Wahoos in a row before Archer walked Pensacola catcher Chad Wallach in the seventh inning.
The Shuckers’ Jungman, who started the year with the Milwaukee Brewers, worked five innings, giving up three hits, three walks and three earned runs, while striking out three.
The Blue Wahoos improved to 14-13 in the second half and are one game back in third place in the Southern League South Division. The first half South Division champions are 55-42 overall.
Kelly said the team is starting to play well together again.
“We had such a tough grind over the last two weeks of the first half,” Kelly said. “Mentally it was a little tough. Plus, we played a couple of good clubs to start the second half.”
July 21, 2016
Northview High School head football and baseball coach Sid Wheatley has resigned to accept a coaching position in his native Mississippi.
“It was the toughest decision of my coaching and teaching career,” he said, “but it came down to a chance to return home to be near my family. My parents are only getting older.”
Wheatley’s career at Northview spanned 11 years, with a 50-31 record as head football coach. But the numbers he will remember most are probably 42-21. After losing out a couple of years at the state semi-final level, Wheatley led his Chiefs to a 42-21 Class 1A state championship victory in 2012 in Orlando.
“I would not trade that win for anything,” he said.
“I know there are many of his former players who will want to wish him well as he turns another page in his latest chapter of his life. I know that I will miss him dearly,” Northview Principal Gayle Weaver said. “We thank Coach Wheatley for his years of service and we wish him well as he moves back home to be with family.”
Weaver said the school will advertise a single job opening that will include the head football and baseball positions. She expects the position will be filled in a matter of weeks, prior to the start of the football season.
“Northview has been a second home for me. I thank Mrs. Weaver, the teachers and staff, the community and the kids for the opportunity,” Wheatley said. “I will be Northview’s biggest fan in Mississippi.”
Pictured top: Northview Head Coach Sid Wheatley. Pictured inset: Wheatley receives of a copy of the Congressional Record where the Chiefs were honored on the floor of the U.S. House and a flag that flew over the White House in their honor after winning a Class 1A state championship in 2012. Pictured below: Wheatley leads his Chiefs to a 2016 Spring Game win over Jay. Pictured bottom: Wheatley’s 2012 state championship team. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.
July 21, 2016
The only thing that had cobwebs after Beau Amaral’s 71-day absence from the Pensacola Blue Wahoos starting lineup was his Jeep Wrangler that he left in the team’s parking lot.
In his first game back with Pensacola since going on the disabled list May 10, Amaral led off the first inning by lifting the first pitch he saw Wednesday over the right field fence into Hilly-Kelly Hill. It was his third homer starting a game this season.
Amaral had surgery to remove his top rib on his right side that was pressing on a vein and created a blood clot in his non-throwing right arm. He returned to the Double-A level after playing 10 games in two weeks for the Rookie League Billings Mustangs. He hit .382 there with one homer and five RBIs for Billings.
Thanks to home runs by Amaral and catcher Chad Wallach, Pensacola went on to beat the Biloxi Shuckers, 6-4, in front of 4,683 fans Wednesday at Blue Wahoos Stadium.
Amaral said he was happy to be back in the No. 4 Pensacola jersey, even though, it lacked his last name across the back.
“It was real scary,” Amaral said about the blood clot that could have ended his season, professional baseball career or worse. “I shouldn’t have looked it up online. It kind of freaked me out.”
Amaral, who worked all offseason with his dad, Rich, to improve his swing also hit a leadoff solo homer on the first pitch of the 2016 season against the Jacksonville Suns and against Biloxi earlier in the year. He was 3-5 with the homer, two singles a run scored and an RBI Wednesday night.
“I got back to the dugout and thought I would wake up and still be in my hospital bed back at home,” said Amaral, who planned to celebrate his performance with a bottle of water and a conversation with his dad. “I’m just so excited to be here. It was really tough being at home and not being able to play baseball.”
Before his injury, Amaral hit .280 in 28 games with Pensacola with two homers, 14 RBIs and an on-base percentage of .360. His three hits Wednesday raised his average to .295.
As excited as Amaral was to be back in Pensacola, Blue Wahoos manager Pat Kelly was even more excited to have him back in the lineup.
“What a terrific comeback,” Kelly said. “We thought he was lost for the season. He comes back this quick and plays tremendous tonight. Everybody is excited to see him. Now, we have four really good outfielders.”
Besides the hits, Amaral made a great catch running back on a deep fly ball by Brett Phillips, the Milwaukee Brewers No. 2 prospect. He caught the ball over his left shoulder on the edge of the warning track.
“He made the play on Phillips look easy and that ball was crushed,” Kelly said.
Pensacola jumped out to a 6-0 lead after the first three innings off of Biloxi starting pitcher Angel Ventura, who gave up four runs on seven hits and two walks to earn a loss.
Blue Wahoos shortstop Zach Vincej scored from first base in the second inning on first baseman Eric Jagielo’s double in the right center gap that rolled to the wall putting Pensacola up, 2-0. Wallach then jumped on a pitch sending it over the left field wall for a 4-0 Blue Wahoos lead.
Two more runs scored in the third inning for a 6-0 Pensacola lead when right fielder Sebastian Elizalde scored on a Jagielo ground out and second baseman Brandon Dixon crossed the plate on a Ventura wild pitch.
Biloxi, who entered the game hitting .209 against Pensacola pitching, scored its three runs in the fourth inning. Phillips, Biloxi’s center fielder, scored the first run for the Shuckers on an error by Dixon. Biloxi third baseman Gabriel Noriega then smacked a two-out single to left field that scored first baseman Nick Ramirez for the Shuckers second run of the game, 6-2.
Noriega scored the final run of the inning when Biloxi shortstop Angel Ortega hit a blooper just over Pensacola’s Dixon’s outstretched arm into right field pulling Biloxi within, 6-3.
In the ninth inning, Biloxi loaded the bases on two bunt singles and a flair to right field off of Pensacola closer Alejandro Chacin. Chacin then walked third baseman Tom Belza to score Johnny Davis.
However, Chacin then got Biloxi’s top of the order out on two foul pop ups to Wallach and struck out Phillips to get out of the bases loaded jam. He now has a Southern League-leading 18 saves on the year.
“It wasn’t like he was getting crushed,” Kelly said of Chacin. “He made great pitches when he has to.”
Pensacola starting pitcher Tyler Mahle also pitched well. He worked six innings giving up five hits, two walks and three unearned runs, while striking out five. He’s now 5-1 in six starts for Pensacola with a .2.41 ERA, winning 10 of his last 11 starts between the High-A Daytona Tortugas and Blue Wahoos.
Pensacola relievers have now allowed four runs total, two of them earned in 24.1 innings this season.
The Blue Wahoos improved to .500 in the second half at 13-13 and the first half South Division champions are 54-42 overall.
July 19, 2016
The Pensacola Blue Wahoos pulled within one run, 3-2, in the sixth inning but that was as close as they could come to the Jacksonville Suns on Monday at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.
Jacksonville starting pitcher Jake Esch and relievers Tyler Bremer and Sean Donatello combined to shutout Pensacola over the last three innings, allowing one hit and retiring the last seven Blue Wahoos hitters in row.
Esch improved to 10-6 with a 3.72 ERA, becoming the first pitcher to reach 10 wins in the Southern League. In 6.2 innings of work he allowed seven hits, one walk and two earned runs, while striking out seven.
Despite Monday’s loss, Pensacola won the series, 3-2, but are still below .500 on the road at 23-26. They are 12-13 in the second half, one game back of Jacksonville, which improved to 13-12 to take first place in the Southern League South Division.
Jacksonville scored first when first baseman Chris Curley hit a two-run homer off of Pensacola starter Nick Travieso in the bottom of the second inning to give the Suns a 2-0 lead.
Travieso took the loss and is 4-6 with a 4.16 ERA this season.
In the top of the third inning, Pensacola right fielder Sebastian Elizalde singled to the opposite field on a ground ball to left field drive in shortstop Alex Blandino, who doubled, pulling the Blue Wahoos within, 2-1.
Suns left fielder Austin Dean put Jacksonville up by two runs again, 3-1, on a single on a fly ball to left field that scored pitcher Jake Esch, who led off the fifth inning with a single back up the middle.
Pensacola’s Elizalde doubled to start the sixth inning and crossed home plate on a ground out by third baseman Taylor Sparks to third base to bring the Blue Wahoos, within, 3-2. But that is as close as they would get.
Pensacola was 1-6 with runners in scoring position and left six runners on base.
Leading the Blue Wahoos at the plate were Elizalde, who was 3-4 with a double, run scored and RBI, and Blandino, who was 2-4 with a double and a run scored.