Pensacola Blue Wahoos Advance To Southern League Championship

September 22, 2023

The explosion of joy, from the Blue Wahoos dugout to the party on the mound, reflected pure exhilaration.

With their fans standing and celebrating, Pensacola did it again, reaching the Southern League Championship Series with a 5-1 victory Thursday night against the Montgomery Biscuits at Blue Wahoos Stadium, clinching the divisional series in a two-game sweep.

For a team that posted so many feats this season, including the best winning percentage in club history, a record 10-game win streak, plus six new batting records, this latest one was the biggest one.

They will now face the Tennessee Smokies for a second time in the Championship Series, beginning Sunday at Tennessee. Game Two and Game Three, if necessary, will be played in Pensacola on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Blue Wahoos won the league title a year ago on the road in Tennessee.

“We have something special in this clubhouse, this group of guys,” said lefthander Patrick Monteverde, who delivered a sensational starting performance, working into the seventh inning without allowing a run. “Everybody on the roster … we are one big family, one big brotherhood.”

The special element began with Monteverde.

In his five previous starts against the Biscuits, all were quality. He was 3-0 with only two earned runs allowed in 31.2 innings. On Thursday, considering the stakes and the pressure, Monteverde was at his best.

He allowed just one hit and two baserunners in the first three innings. In the fourth inning, he worked out of a two-on, two-out situation. He finished working 6.1 innings, allowing five hits, just one walk and striking out eight batters. He threw 103 pitches in a gritty, memorable effort.

“Last year when I got here (to Pensacola) those guys (Biscuits) got me pretty good in my first Double-A outing,” said Monteverde, a Pittsburgh, Pa. native who is rated the No. 16 prospect in the Miami Marlins organization. “I take it personal, and I just didn’t want to have that feeling again against these guys.

“They have a really good offense and I knew I had to be dialed in.”

He worked efficiently with his array of breaking pitches and his fastball. Only once did Montgomery have multiple baserunners against him.

“You could tell right from the start he was on his A-game and he had his stuff and I’m super happy for him,” said Blue Wahoos first baseman Bennett Hostetler.

The Blue Wahoos jumped to a 3-0 lead in the fourth inning. Will Banfield and Victor Mesa Jr. both walked to start the rally. With runners on first and third, Jake Thompson drove in the first run with a double. Hostetler, the star of the Game 1 win with two homers and three RBI, followed with a clutch two-run single.

The Blue Wahoos made it 4-0 in the fifth inning on Paul McIntosh’s single to score Nasim Nuñez. In the seventh, Cody Morissette blasted a home run into the right field berm for a 5-0 lead.

Every Blue Wahoos hitter reached base. Seven players in the lineup had a hit.

“This is a special group of players and special group of coaches,” Nuñez said. “I believe in every one of them. I wouldn’t want to be out there with anyone else.”

Zach McCambley relieved Monteverde and produced three strikeouts in 1.2 spotless innings. In the ninth, Jefry Yan retired the first two batters and gave up a run on a two-out double before striking out the final batter, Carson Wiliams. He leaped with excitement as the players rushed him on the mound.

The on-field celebration included ice baths and drink dousing in a scene full of happiness as fans stayed and cheered.

“It is a special feeling,” Hostetler said. “Working the whole season, the goal is to get to the playoffs and when you get to the playoffs, the goal is to win.

“We are super happy for each other and super happy for Pensacola to see another Championship Series.”

Before the game, the Blue Wahoos honored 10-year employees from the Studer Family of Companies, which encompasses the Blue Wahoos. Each received a commemorative gift, and had photos taken on the field with players.

In addition, there was a fourth-inning check presentation for $42,000 for the Pensacola chapter of Habitat for Humanity for its season of community partnership with the Blue Wahoos.

This is the Blue Wahoos’ seventh time making the playoffs in the past eight seasons. The Blue Wahoos were co-league champions in 2017 in a playoff round shortened by a hurricane threat. They won their first outright title last year.

Sunday’s game is at 4:30 p.m. at Tennessee. Game 2 on Tuesday is at 6:05 in Pensacola, followed by Game 3 if necessary at 6:05 p.m. on Wednesday in Pensacola.

by Bill Vilona, photo Nino Mendez / Pensacola Blue Wahoos

Hostetler’s Homers Lift Wahoos To 5-2 Championship Series Opening Win

September 20, 2023

Bennett Hostetler went 3-for-5 with a double and two home runs as the Pensacola Blue Wahoos opened up the Southern League Division Series with a 5-2 win over the Montgomery Biscuits on Tuesday night.

The Blue Wahoos return to Pensacola needing just one more win to advance to the Southern League Championship Series in their pursuit of back-to-back league titles. The Blue Wahoos will host Game Two on Thursday, and if necessary will host Game Three on Friday.

Every Blue Wahoos run came on home runs in an offensive attack reminiscent of their regular season success. Jake Thompson opened up the scoring with a two-run blast off Montgomery starter Patrick Wicklander (L, 0-1) in the second inning, and Hostetler added a solo shot in the third for an early 3-0 lead.

Luis Palacios (W, 1-0) was his own worst enemy in the bottom of the third, committing a fielding error on the mound that opened the door for a Tanner Murray RBI double. The Pensacola starter then allowed a Kenny Piper solo homer in the fourth, trimming the lead to 3-2.

Hostetler delivered the final jolt of the night in the fifth, launching a two-run homer out to left field to put the momentum back in Pensacola’s favor. It marked the first multi-homer game in Blue Wahoos postseason history.

Palacios pitched into the sixth, handing the ball off to Zach Willeman to strand a runner at second base. Luarbert Arias dazzled with four strikeouts over 2.0 scoreless innings of relief, and Dylan Bice (S, 1) worked a 1-2-3 ninth for the save.

Needing just one more win to advance, the Blue Wahoos will have an off day on Wednesday before the best-of-three series turns back to Pensacola on Thursday.

by Bill Vilona, photo Nino Mendez / Pensacola Blue Wahoos

Northview Chiefs Beat The Escambia Gators In Three Sets (With Gallery)

September 19, 2023

The Northview Chiefs defeated the Escambia Gators 3-2 in high school volleyball action Tuesday evening.

Northview won the match in Bratt in five sets, 13-25, 25-17, 20-25, 25-12, 15-10.

With the win, Northview improves to 6-3.

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

Bonus Photos: Northview Band And Cheerleaders

September 18, 2023

The Northview Chiefs defeated the Lighthouse Private Christian Academy Stingrays 35-0 Friday night.

For a bonus photo gallery with the band and cheerleaders, click here.

For a game action story and photos, click here.

Northview is off next Friday night for a bye week. photos, click to enlarge.

Playoff-Bound Blue Wahoos Cap Regular Season With 6-3 Win

September 18, 2023

On a day complete with a military honor, the Blue Wahoos could not have choreographed a better way to end the final Sunday of their regular season.

The skies had cleared. The team had just produced a seventh-inning rally. The Blue Angels buzzed above the ballpark in an eighth-inning return home.

And the game closed out amid a cheering crowd.

With a focus moving to a bigger feat, the Blue Wahoos broke a tie game with a trio of runs, then had their bullpen finish the final two innings of a 6-3 victory against the Mississippi Braves at Blue Wahoos Stadium.

It ended the scheduled portion of the Blue Wahoos season with a 79-57 record, which equates into the best winning percentage (.581) in franchise history. The team won 81 games in 2016 with a longer season and lower win percentage.

The Blue Wahoos will now turn attention to Tuesday’s Game 1 of the Southern League South Division series at the Montgomery Biscuits that begins a chance to repeat as league champions. The second game and deciding game, if necessary, in the best-of-three series will be in Pensacola where this team has been so embraced.

“Our players respond to the fan base here,” said Blue Wahoos manager Kevin Randel, whose team unfurled a “Thank You Pensacola” banner in front of the pitcher’s mound before the game. “We have great fans. It’s just a good relationship between the players and fan base.

“It’s fun to play in front of during the game. (Fans) get loud, our guys like the moment and we appreciate playing here and we are very fortunate.”

Sunday’s win put a bow on an eventful finale that began with the Blue Wahoos honoring two Pensacola servicemen who survived the horrors of enemy capture during the Vietnam War on the 50-year commemoration of the return of U.S. prisoners of war from North Vietnam.

The POW-MIA day at the stadium honored 94-year-old U.S. Navy captain Allen Brady and 85-year-old U.S. Air Force colonel Ed Hubbard, both of whom had planes shot down in combat and spent years as a POW.

The two Pensacola residents threw out ceremonial first pitches, along with retired U.S. Navy Admiral Kyle Cozad, the President/CEO of the National Naval Aviation Museum Foundation located at Naval Air Station Pensacola. A decorated officer, Cozad has been confined to a wheelchair since a home accident in 2018 and received a loud ovation with his first pitch.

For Brady, at age 94, it was his first pitch since 1959.

“That was also my last pitch,” he said, smiling. “That was the last time I played baseball. This was the first time in my life ever doing something like this. My wife said, “Now, don’t try to throw a strike.’ I said, I’ll be lucky if I can just get it there.”

Blue Wahoos pitcher Luis Palacios, the team’s likely Game 1 playoff starter Tuesday, caught the ceremonial pitches. The team also wore special commemorative patches for the 50-year commemoration of “Operation Homecoming” that happened on March 28, 1973.

While pitching has been the Blue Wahoos’ strength in the final stretch of the regular season, this team ended its regular season by setting team records in batting average, runs scored, hits, home runs, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and on-base plus slugging (OPS).

“This is the best hitting team I’ve been a part of,” Randel said. “Obviously, we have a little different look now in the lineup. But for that second and third month of the season we were really, really good. We did kind of everything.

‘“We’re a little bit different now. We are grinding our way on the mound. We are grinding our way in the (batter’s) box, but we are still finding ways to win.”

Sunday was prime example of that.

The Blue Wahoos made the most of six hits to get their six runs. After the M-Braves got two runs off Blue Wahoos starter M.D. Johnson in the first inning, Nasim Nuñez led off the Blue Wahoos in the bottom of the inning with a walk and two stolen bases before scoring when Paul McIntosh was caught in a rundown on a designed steal attempt of second.

They took a 3-2 lead when Nuñez, a switch-hitter, connected on his first homer batting righthanded with a wind-aided shot that carried over a leaping attempt by M-Braves right fielder Jacob Pearson.

With game tied in the seventh, Bennett Hostetler led off by reaching on an error. Jake Thompson singled. Cobie Fletcher-Vance had an RBI single. A second run scored on a double play, then Fletcher-Vance scored on a passed ball.

Blue Wahoos closer Dylan Bice struck out the side in the ninth to seal the win and earn his third save.

Here is how the schedule shapes up for the Southern League playoffs in both divisions. Each series is a best-of-three. The Blue Wahoos have home field advantage in the first round and championship series, if they advance.

Blue Wahoos Southern League Playoff Schedule

MONDAY – Off Day

TUESDAY – Game 1 at Montgomery Biscuits, 6:35 p.m., Riverwalk Stadium, Montgomery. Ala.


THURSDAY – Game 2 vs. Montgomery, 6:05 p.m. at Blue Wahoos Stadium

FRIDAY – Game 3 (if necessary) vs. Montgomery, 6:05 p.m. at Blue Wahoos Stadium

SL Championship Series (If Advancing)

SEPT. 23 – Off Day

SEPT. 24 – at Tennessee Smokies-Chattanooga Lookouts North Division Winner

SEPT. 25 – Off Day

SEPT. 26 — Game 2 vs. TNS/CHA, 6:05 p.m. at Blue Wahoos Stadium

SEPT. 27 – Game 3 (if necessary vs. TNS/CHA, 6:05 p.m. at Blue Wahoos Stadium

by Bill Vilona, photo Nino Mendez / Pensacola Blue Wahoos

Bermúdez Brilliant In 3-0 Shutout Win

September 17, 2023

His well-traveled professional career has taken Blue Wahoos pitcher Jonathan Bermúdez across the country with three different organizations, pitching in more than 100 games.

He provided great reason to always remember the one Saturday night.

The 27-year-old lefthander from Puerto Rico worked a career-long seven complete innings, allowing just three hits with nine strikeouts, helping lead Pensacola to a 3-0 win against the Mississippi Braves.

A sellout crowd on the final Saturday home game of the season watched Bermúdez out-dazzle M-Braves starter Hurston Waldrep, the former Florida Gators star, who was the first-round pick in July by the Atlanta Braves in the 2023 Draft.

Waldrep pitched four innings, the longest of his brief pro career, giving up four hits, a run and striking out five.

The crisply-played pitching showcase was completed in just 2 hours, 15 minutes.

In making his 18th start, Bermúdez faced just two batters above the minimum in seven innings. He did not allow a walk. Bermúdez was signed by the Miami Marlins on April 26 as a free agent, after being with the San Francisco Giants and Houston Astros organizations – reaching the Triple-A level in each one.

Of the three singles he allowed, one was erased when the M-Braves’ Cody Milligan was thrown out on a perfect throw by Jake Thompson trying to stretch the hit into a double.

Relievers Chandler Jozwiak and Luarbert Arias followed behind Bermúdez to complete the shutout. The M-Braves had a single in the eighth off Jozwiak before Arias retired them in order in the ninth.

The Blue Wahoos chose to wear the Pensacola Pok-Ta-Pok uniforms, which became instantly popular with the players when introduced before the season as part of the team’s participation the Minor League Baseball’s Copa de la Diversión program to honor the game’s Latin American history.

Pensacola got its first run in the third inning when Cobie Fletcher-Vance led off with a double, then scored on Victor Mesa Jr.’s single.

The score remained that way until the seventh inning, when Josh Zamora doubled, advanced to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a sacrifice fly from Norel González. Pensacola added its third run in the eighth inning when Paul McIntosh led off with a walk, then later scored on Bennett Hostetler’s RBI single.

The Blue Wahoos (78-57), extending their mark with the second-most wins in franchise history, will now end their regular-season schedule on Sunday, trying to even the series against the M-Braves. The Blue Wahoos’ team record for season wins was 81, set in 2016 as a Cincinnati Reds affiliate in a 140-game season.

Sunday’s finale will also be a special POW-MIA commemoration game to honor the 50-year anniversary of the return of U.S. POW service members and the end of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.

Attending Sunday’s game will be two area men who were former POWs at that time. They will be honored with ceremonial first pitches, then more recognition between innings of the game.

Sunday’s afternoon game will feature the second rehab start this week by the Miami Marlins’ Sixto Sánchez, who was once the No. 1 prospect in the organization before a series of injuries the last three years stalled his career. Sánchez will be on a limited pitch count and is expected to be followed by M.D. Johnson.

Pregame activities will begin at 3:45 p.m., including ceremonial first pitches and special guest introductions. The official first pitch of the game will be at 4:05 p.m.

The Blue Wahoos will have Monday off before traveling on Tuesday to face the Montgomery Biscuits for Game 1 of the Southern League Division Series. Game 2 of the best-of-three series will be in Pensacola on Thursday, September 21 at 6:05 p.m. at Blue Wahoos Stadium.

A deciding Game 3, if necessary, will be at Blue Wahoos Stadium on Friday, September 22.

by Bill Vilona, photo Nino Mendez / Pensacola Blue Wahoos

No Place Like Home: Northview Gets 35-0 Senior Night Shutout Over Lighthouse (With Gallery)

September 16, 2023

There’s no place like home for a big win.

After dropping the first three games of the season on the road, the Northview Chiefs got a big 35-0 senior night win at home over Lighthouse Private Christian Academy Friday night. Northview is now 5-0 against Lighthouse across all meetings.

For a photo gallery click here. Look for a gallery with cheerleaders, the band and more in the next few days.

“It was just a great senior night at Northview,” head coach Wes Summerford said. “We’ve played three great teams, then Lighthouse came up here, and it’s just great to get a win. That’s important for our guys right now, and we get to work off that. That’s going to be our message. Our kids…we’ve got to rebound off this, and we’ve got to work on this win and be positive…feed off it and keep going.”

The penalty flags were flying all night against the Chiefs with five — that’s five — touchdowns called back on penalties.

But it was the five that hit the scoreboard that counted.

Senior Devin Kelly had two senior night touchdowns in the first half from seven yards and one yard out. Senior Joe Wright had a one-yard rushing TD with 2:12 to go in the half and added another in the third quarter.

Northview (1-3) will sit out next Friday night with a bye before they gas up the bus and hit the road again for their next two games against Elberta on September 29 and Baker on October 6. Homecoming will be October 13 as the Jay Royals head to Bratt.

“We have a bye week to get healthy. We were short a few guys tonight,” Summerford said. “Get those guys healthy, and work on not having those penalties.”

For a photo gallery click here. Look for a gallery with cheerleaders, the band and more in the next few days. photos, click to enlarge.

Navarre Tops Tate 45-42 In Late Night District Battle

September 16, 2023

The Tate Aggies fell to the Navarre Raiders 45-42 in a late night battle in Navarre.

The game kicked off about 8:30, an hour late, due to a lightning delay. Then the real fireworks began in the District 1-4S matchup.

The Raiders were first on the board early in the game. Tate’s Laquarius Bradford returned the ensuing kickoff down to the 14-yard line, leading to the first touchdown for the Aggies from Andre Colston. Colston added another short TD run to put the Aggies on top 14-7 in the first.

Navarre answered to tie it up 14-14. The Aggies rolled ahead 21-14 with a touchdown run from Nathan Case before Navarre tied it up 21-21.

Tate scored again on a Carson Secchiari run that made it 35-28, Navarre still on top. Colton added another short touchdown run with 5:33 to go in the third, and it was all tied up 35-35. Navarre took the lead 38-35 with a field goal before the Aggies took the lead 42-38 with a touchdown from Demoarion Clay.

Navarre scored again with about nine and half minutes in the game, 45-42.

With just seconds to go in the game and facing fourth down, the Aggies decided to try a 50-yard field goal. The ball had barely left the foot of Tate’s Jackson Clarke when it was blocked by a Navarre player from around the outside.

The Navarre raiders took a knee to end the game about 11:30 p.m.

At 2-2, the Aggies are still having their best season in five years — it’s the first season with two wins since 2018.  The Aggies will have next Friday night off before looking for win number three as they host the Milton Panthers on September 29.

Pictured: Northview’s Taite Davis hands off to Andre Colston Friday night in Navarre. Image courtesy WEAR 3 for, click to enlarge.

High School Football Scoreboard

September 16, 2023

Here are high school football scores from around the North Escambia area:


  • Navarre 45, Tate 42 [Story...]
  • Northview 35, Lighthouse Private Christian Academy 0 [Story, photos...]
  • Jay 14, Baker 3
  • Choctaw 35, Pine Forest 14
  • Escambia 37, Fort Walton Beach 0
  • Bay 35, Pensacola High 0
  • Pace 28, Crestview 0
  • Gulf Breeze 73, Milton 42
  • BYES: Washington, West Florida


  • Flomaton 34, Cottage Hill 14
  • Jackson Academy 46,  Escambia Academy 18
  • St. Michael 41, Escambia County (Atmore) 26
  • Jackson 38, T.R. Miller 7
  • W.S. Neal 48, Monroe County 12

Pictured: The Northview Chiefs defeated Lighthouse Christian 35-0 Friday night in Bratt. photo, click to enlarge.

Late Rally Not Enough As Wahoos Fall 5-4

September 16, 2023

Pregame rain returned Friday, continuing a week-long trend, thinning the crowd and delaying the Blue Wahoos game by nearly two hours on consecutive days.

The glum scenario has carried into a post-game feeling as well.

After trimming a 5-1 deficit with an eighth-inning rally, the Blue Wahoos fell short of ninth-inning heroics in a 5-4 loss against the Mississippi Braves at Blue Wahoos Stadium.

Once again, M-Braves closer Brooks Wilson locked the door with his second dominant performance in four nights. This time, his array of splitters led to a pair of ninth-inning strikeouts to seal the Blue Wahoos’ fate.

It was M-Braves’ third win in four games of this series.

What had been a sunny afternoon turned into a thunderstorm at 6:25 p.m. – 10 minutes before the scheduled start of Friday’s game. A one-hour, 50-minute delay. It was a similar scenario to Thursday’s game, which started well past the scheduled time.

The M-Braves produced three runs off Blue Wahoos starter Evan Fitterer in the fifth inning. The big hit was a two-run double by Bryson Horne.

The Blue Wahoos got a run back in the sixth on a two-out single from Norel González to score Nasim Nuñez, who had walked and stolen second base. At that point, it was Pensacola’s first hit since Paul McIntosh’s first inning single.

The M-Braves added a run in the seventh and another in the eighth against relievers Josan Méndez and Zach Willeman to open a 5-1 lead.

But in the bottom of the inning, the Blue Wahoos offense came to life. Nuñez reached on an error and scored on Will Banfield’s triple. Bennett Hostetler’s double scored a third run and Cody Morissette reached on a throwing error that scored Hostetler.

But Wilson retired the Blue Wahoos in order in the ninth for his second save in two days.

The Blue Wahoos will try to get back in the series on Saturday.

The M-Braves will be throwing former Florida Gators star Hurston Waldrep (0-0, 3.00 ERA) on Saturday. He was the Atlanta Braves’ No. 1 draft pick in July following a 2023 season with the Gators in which he helped Florida reach the College World Series.

The Blue Wahoos will have lefthander Jonathan Bermúdez on the mound (4-5, 4.94 ERA) for the fifth game of the homestand.

Pregame activities will begin at 5:45 p.m., including ceremonial first pitches and special guest introductions. The official first pitch of the game will be at 6:05 p.m.

by Bill Vilona, photo Nino Mendez / Pensacola Blue Wahoos

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