Blue Wahoos Down Barons In Series Opener

May 26, 2016

Jackson Stephens’ family rarely miss his starts, making the five-hour drive from their home in Oxford, Ala., near the Georgia border to Pensacola.

They left the game in good spirits on Wednesday. Their son didn’t walk anybody, plus he improved his record to 4-3 and his ERA dropped to 3.22.

“My dad hates walks,” Stephens said. “I didn’t have any so he was pumped. My mom, she just wants to see her baby do good and she’s happy.”

Stephens, coming off of a combined no-hitter against the Jacksonville Suns on May 20, threw another gem. He threw seven scoreless innings allowing five hits and striking out a season-high nine batters for the second time this season. He has now thrown 12 scoreless innings.

Pensacola earned the victory, 5-1, over the Birmingham Barons in the opening game of the five-game series in front of 3,993 fans Wednesday at Blue Wahoos Stadium.

Stephens pumped his fist after getting first baseman Nick Basto to fly out to Donald Lutz in left field to end the seventh inning.

All four of his pitches – a two- and four-seam fastball, curveball and slider – were working for him Wednesday. He said his seven scoreless innings Thursday were similar to his last outing when he pitched five innings without allowing a hit but giving up two walks.

“I’d say they were similar,” said the 21-year-old Stephens. “You’re not going to go out there and throw no hitters all the time. My stuff was there. I was able to get ahead in the pitch count with a lot of early strikes.”

Stephens, who entered the game with opponents hitting .221 off him, limited Birmingham to .192 (5-26) Thursday.

Pensacola manager Pat Kelly also liked what he saw from Stephens, who got ahead of hitters Thursday. Kelly pointed out Stephens threw about 85 pitches in both his five inning outing and Thursday’s seven inning game.

“He’s been throwing bullets but wasting them early in the ball game,” Kelly said. “That’s what he’s got to do.”

Pensacola retook sole possession of first place from the Biloxi Shuckers, who vaulted into the Southern Division lead when they beat the Blue Wahoos April 19. Pensacola is 27-19, while Biloxi is 26-19, after losing to Mobile BayBears, 9-1, Wednesday.

Pensacola’s third baseman Tony Renda doubled to lead off the first inning, went to third on a groundout by center fielder Phillip Ervin and scored on a wild pitch to give the Blue Wahoos a 1-0 lead.

Renda was also involved in the second run scored by the Blue Wahoos, too, in the third inning when he singled to drive in Pensacola catcher Chad Wallach. Renda tried to stretch his single into a double but was thrown out at second base by left fielder Courtney Hawkins.

Kelly was happy with Renda’s aggressiveness against Birmingham starter Tyler Danish, the White Sox No. 11 prospect, who threw a complete game shutout the last time he faced the Blue Wahoos on April 29.

“To scratch out a few runs early was nice,” Kelly admitted. “(Renda) had that big RBI for the second run.”

DH Eric Jagielo hit a two-out blooper to left field in the sixth inning that drove in Kyle Parker, who had singled, to put Pensacola ahead, 3-0.

Dixon got the third straight hit to start the eighth inning to drive in two runs and put Pensacola up, 5-0.

New York Yankee transplants who came over in the Cincinnati Reds trade for closer Ardolis Chapman, Renda and Eric Jagielo led the team at the plate Thursday. Renda hit in his fifth straight game, going 2-4 with a double and one run scored. Meanwhile, Jagielo went 2-4 and drove in the third run off of Birmingham’s Danish.

Jagielo, an All-Star in his previous minor league seasons, is hitting .180 but Kelly expressed confidence in him.

“To me it’s just a relaxation thing,” Kelly said. “When you’re coming to a new organization you want to show everybody what you can do. He looked good tonight.”

Spring Football: Northview Downs Jay (With Gallery)

May 25, 2016

The Northview Chiefs defeated the Jay Royals Tuesday night in spring football action.

In a junior varsity quarter, Northview topped Jay 7-0. In a full varsity scrimmage, Northview defeated Jay 34-0.

For a photo gallery, click here. photos, click to enlarge.

Wahoos Top Suns

May 24, 2016

The Pensacola Blue Wahoos won the final game of its five-game series against the Jacksonville Suns by scoring the winning run in the 10th inning when center fielder Phillip Ervin scored on a fielder’s choice by shortstop Calten Daal.

Pensacola clung to the, 5-4, victory over the Suns Monday at The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville on a game-ending double play with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th inning.

Jacksonville third baseman James Roberts flew out to Blue Wahoos right fielder Brandon Dixon. Dixon then gunned the ball to Pensacola first baseman Kyle Parker, who fired it to Daal covering second base to double up Jacksonville’s Moises Sierra and end the game.

Although Jacksonville won the series, 3-2, the Blue Wahoos kept pace with the Biloxi Shuckers in the Southern League South Division. Despite going, 6-6, in its last 12 games, Pensacola is now 26-19 this season and remains in second place, just a half game behind the Shuckers.

Biloxi lost, 3-2, to the Tennessee Smokies in 12 innings Monday night to fall to 26-18 on the year.

Pensacola’s Daal, who was 2-5 with three RBIs on two doubles, doubled to center field in the eighth inning to drive in first baseman Kyle Parker. Parker scored from second, after stealing his first base of the season, to put the Blue Wahoos up, 4-3.

Daal now has four RBIs on the season and is batting .356 in 20 games with Pensacola.

However, Jacksonville came back to tie the score, 4-4, in the bottom of the eighth to send the game to extra innings. Jacksonville first baseman Chris Curley singled to center field to score Suns left fielder Austin Dean.

Blue Wahoos southpaw Amir Garrett, the Cincinnati Reds No. 3 prospect, did not get the decision but pitched another fabulous game. Garrett is 3-3 with a 1.49 earned-run average this season. He worked a season high 6.2 innings and gave up three runs, one earned on four hits, and two walks.

Garrett struck out seven Jacksonville batters and now has 54 on the season, which ties him for third in the Southern League.

The Blue Wahoos tied the game, 3-3, in the top of the fifth when Ervin hit a two-out single to left field to drive in Tony Renda, who had hit his 13th double of the season to left. Renda, who was playing third base Monday, got one hit in each of the last four games against Jacksonville. He was 4-18 with three runs scored and three RBIs in the series and is batting .281 this season.

Ervin who is hitting .121 this year with runners in scoring position now is tied with Brandon Dixon with 17 RBIs this season for Pensacola.

In the second inning, Pensacola jumped to a 2-0 lead. Pensacola’s Daal doubled to left field to score Parker, who led off the inning with a walk. Blue Wahoos catcher Chad Wallach then smacked a sacrifice fly that drove in Dixon for the second run of the inning.

But Jacksonville came back in the bottom of the inning to score three runs and take the lead. The Suns loaded the bases with two outs when pitcher Patrick Johnson singled on a ground ball to Daal, who threw the ball away. That allowed both first baseman Chris Curley and third baseman James Roberts to score tying the game, 2-2. Wallach then allowed a pass ball on strike out by Suns second baseman Yefri Perez, and center field Jeremias Pineda crossed the plate to put Jacksonville up, 3-2.

Blue Wahoos Drop Series To Jacksonville

May 23, 2016

The Jacksonville Suns won, 6-5, over the Pensacola Blue Wahoos by scoring two runs in the sixth inning thanks to a sacrifice fly and a Blue Wahoos error Sunday at The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.

Jacksonville tied the game, 5-5, when third baseman Avery Romero hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth inning to score right fielder Moises Sierra. Suns catcher Francisco Arcia then put Jacksonville ahead, 6-5, when he scored on a throwing error by Pensacola third baseman Eric Jagielo.

The Blue Wahoos are 25-19 on the season in the Southern League South Division, while Jacksonville improved to 20-23 and jumped to third place behind Pensacola.

Pensacola overcame a four run deficit to take the lead, 5-4, in the top of the fifth inning when first baseman Kyle Parker hit a two-run home run to center field. Parker’s blast also scored center fielder Phillip Ervin.

The Blue Wahoos got three runs back in the top of the fourth inning to pull within one against Jacksonville when right fielder Brandon Dixon scored on a grounder by shortstop Calten Daal. Pensacola left fielder Tony Renda then singled to left field that scored both Daal and catcher Joe Hudson, pulling Pensacola within, 4-3.

Jacksonville’s Sierra smashed a two-out, three-run homer in bottom of first inning. His homer to left center brought home second baseman J.T. Riddle, who tripled and first baseman Brady Shoemaker, who walked.

Suns Pitcher Jarlin Garcia singled on a ground ball to Blue Wahoos starter Nick Travieso that scored Jermias Pineda, putting Jacksonville up, 4-0, after two innings.

Travieso gave up all four runs to the Suns in the five innings he pitched. He allowed four hits and walked three, while striking out seven. He got a no-decision, however, and remains 3-2 with 41 strikeouts in 37.2 innings pitched.

Jacksonville used five pitchers, giving up five runs, two earned and striking out seven.

Leading Pensacola at the plate was second baseman Alex Blandino, who went 2-5 with a double. He’s batting .286 with one homer and four RBIs in his last eight games. Pensacola left fielder Tony Renda got a hit in his fourth straight game against Jacksonville and is now 4-17 in the series and batting .282 on the season.

Blue Wahoos Lose To Jacksonville; Still In First

May 22, 2016

The Pensacola Blue Wahoos were 0-9 with runners in scoring position and fell, 4-0, Saturday to the Jacksonville Suns at The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.

Although Pensacola lost Saturday and is 5-5 in its last 10 games, they remain tied for first with Biloxi. The Shuckers took over first after beating the Blue Wahoos April 19. The Blue Wahoos are 25-18 on the season in the Southern League South Division, while the Shuckers are 24-17. Biloxi lost to the Tennessee Smokies, 10-9, Saturday when the Smokies scored nine runs in the seventh and eighth to come from behind to win.

Jacksonville got on the scoreboard first. Suns catcher Francisco Arcia singled to right field to drive in first baseman Brady Shoemaker with one out to go up, 1-0.

Suns third baseman James Roberts drew a bases loaded walk with two out in the sixth inning that scored left fielder Austin Dean, giving Jacksonville a 2-0 lead.

The Suns then put the game away in the eighth inning. Cam Maron pinch hit for Jacksonville and singled in Arcia, 3-0, with one out in eighth inning. Jacksonville center fielder Yefri Perez then hit a deep sacrifice fly to center to score James Roberts from third to give Jacksonville, 4-0, lead in eighth.

Jacksonville pitcher Austin Brice 5.2 scoreless innings, allowing five hits and one walk and struck out six. He improved his record to 3-2 and lowered his ERA to 1.99.

Pensacola pitcher Barrett Astin got the spot start and ended up getting his first loss of the season, falling to 3-1. He pitched three innings gave up one hit, one run, walked four and struck out four.

Blue Wahoos third baseman Eric Jagielo led Pensacola at the plate going 2-4. Pensacola left fielder Tony Renda got a hit in his third straight game against Jacksonville and is now 3-12 in the series.

Wahoos And Suns Split Doubleheader

May 21, 2016

Pensacola Blue Wahoos pitchers Jackson Stephens, Matt Magill and Carlos Gonzalez combined on a seven-inning no-hitter Friday against the Jacksonville Suns at The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.

Pensacola won, 6-0, in the second game of a doubleheader as Blue Wahoos starting pitcher Stephens pitched five scoreless innings, allowing no hits, two walks and striking out two. He improved to 3-3 with a 3.74 ERA.

Reliever Matt Magill then threw one inning and struck out the side. Carlos Gonzalez pitched the seven and set the Suns down in order. This was the second no-hitter in team history with the first one in 2012.

Meanwhile, Jacksonville won the first game of Friday’s doubleheader, 4-0, on a three-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning by first baseman Brady Shoemaker followed by a solo shot by right fielder Moises Sierra to left center.

Pensacola is 25-17 and now tied with the Biloxi Shuckers for first place in the Southern League South Division. Pensacola has been chasing Biloxi since it lost to them, 4-3, April 19. Meanwhile, Jacksonville fell to fourth place and is 18-23.

In the second game, Stephens, who’s pitching at the Double-A level for the first time, mowed down the Suns. The 22-year-old has had four two-hitters and one one-hitter in his five years in Minor League Baseball.

Pensacola center fielder Bryson Smith tripled two runs in the top of the third inning to put the Blue Wahoos on top, 2-0. Smith then scored on a sacrifice fly by Tony Renda to right field for a 3-0 lead.

Pensacola added another run in the fourth when first baseman Kyle Parker singled to left field, Brandon Dixon doubled to left field and right fielder Jeff Galalich singled to right field to score Parker and increase the Blue Wahoos’ lead to 4-0.

Pensacola shortstop Alex Blandino added two more runs in the seventh when he singled to right field, scoring both Smith and Renda to score make the final score, 6-0.

In the first game, Jacksonville scored four runs with two outs in the sixth inning. Shoemaker hit a three-run homer that brought in center fielder Yefri Perez and left fielder Austin Dean. Sierra then followed with his blast to left center.

Both home runs came off of Pensacola starter Sal Romano, who gave up seven hits and one walk and struck out five in 5.2 innings. Romano is 1-3 with a 4.74 ERA.

Meanwhile, Suns starter Jake Esch pitched six scoreless innings, giving up four hits and six strikeouts. He improved to 5-4 with a 4.63 ERA.

Leading Pensacola at the plate was Calten Daal, who accounted for three of the Blue Wahoos’ five hits on his 3-3 day at the plate. Second baseman Zach Vincej and center fielder Phillip Ervin each got a hit as both went 1-3. Pensacola was 0-10 with runners in scoring position.

In the second game of the doubleheader, Smith went 1-4 with two runs and two RBIs and Blandino was 2-3 with two RBIs. After hitting .167 in April, Blandino has increased his average to .281 in May.

Wahoos Win With Three-Run Rally In Eighth

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.”

Tate Seniors Hoffman, Sprague Sign With Marion Military Institute

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. photos by Kristi Barbour, click to enlarge.

Flomaton High’s Wesley Inks Basketball Scholarship With Kansas School

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, click to enlarge.

Blue Wahoos Even Series With Victory Over Mississippi Braves

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.”

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