Blue Wahoos Fall 6-1 As Baseball Returns To Pensacola

May 12, 2021

Once all the afternoon rain stopped, the skies parted into a postcard sunset. And people filled the seats.

The only missing element was a Blue Wahoos win, after the Birmingham Barons jumped to a big lead in the first three innings en route to a 6-1 victory in the Wahoos long-awaited, home opener Tuesday night.

While the game didn’t evolve to the fans’ desire, the festive atmosphere became the overriding element.

After a 20-month, 600-plus days absence, Pensacola’s team ushered baseball entertainment and new affiliation with the Miami Marlins back into people’s hearts. The result was a good time among the crowd of 3,669 at Blue Wahoos Stadium

Wahoos Life was back. That mattered.

“The atmosphere was great from start to finish,” said Blue Wahoos manager Kevin Randel, who previously managed against Pensacola while with the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp

“(Fans) were out there, they didn’t miss a beat. I’m sure they were excited to get back out to the stadium and watch some baseball. It was a fun atmosphere. I just wish we could have played a little better for ‘em and had something for (fans) to cheer about, but it was one of those games.”

On the field, the second pro start for Blue Wahoos acclaimed pitcher Max Meyer did not go as well as the first.

After a clean first inning, it got difficult for Meyer, the No. 3 overall player chosen by the Marlins in the 2020 draft. Meyer worked only four innings, giving up eight hits, including a two-run homer by clean-up hitter by cleanup hitter Micker Aldofo in the Barons’ 4-run, third inning.

“He didn’t have great stuff out there (Tuesday), Randel said. “He battled out there, he competed well. His weapon, his slider, was unable to get going. (Barons) did a great job game-planning against him. I think their approach was to just let (slider) go and they were sitting on fastball.

“We are going to get back with him. He’s got some work to do in between starts. We’re going work on some fastball command get that slider in for strikes.”

It was one of five extra-base hits the Barons (6-1) produced against Meyer. The other four were doubles.

In all, he yielded five runs, all earned, two walks, two strikeouts on 71 pitches. It was a contrast to his dominating performance a week ago in the season-opener at Mississippi , where he tossed a 1-hitter against the M-Braves and didn’t yield a run in winning his debut.

But the night still began in a special way.

Without being unable to have traditional first-pitches, the Blue Wahoos (4-3) started a new one: “First Fishes.”

Led by popular WKRG-TV sports personality Robby Baker, who is moving to a new TV job in his home state of Arizona, actual fish were tossed into a waiting net held by Blue Wahoos mascot, Kazoo.

Then, after some microphone issues on the National Anthem, the crowd came to the rescue and sang the words in unison to rescue the moment. The singer and the players both reacted in a good way.

On the field, the second pro start for Blue Wahoos acclaimed pitcher Max Meyer did not go as well as the first.

After a clean first inning, it got difficult for Meyer, the No. 3 overall player chosen by the Marlins in the 2020 draft. Meyer worked only four innings, giving up eight hits, including a two-run homer by clean-up hitter by cleanup hitter Micker Aldofo in the Barons’ 4-run, third inning.

“He didn’t have great stuff out there (Tuesday), Randel said. “He battled out there, he competed well. His weapon, his slider, was unable to get going. (Barons) did a great job game-planning against him. I think their approach was to just let (slider) go and they were sitting on fastball.

“We are going to get back with him. He’s got some work to do in between starts. We’re going work on some fastball command get that slider in for strikes.”

It was one of five extra-base hits the Barons (6-1) produced against Meyer. The other four were doubles.

In all, he yielded five runs, all earned, two walks, two strikeouts on 71 pitches. It was a contrast to his dominating performance a week ago in the season-opener at Mississippi , where he tossed a 1-hitter against the M-Braves and didn’t yield a run in winning his debut.

The Blue Wahoos had their best chance for a big inning in the third inning. They loaded the bases with none out on a trio of singles by Lazaro Alonso, Riley Mahan and Connor Justus.

Birmingham starter Blake Battenfield then got Victor Victor Mesa to hit into double-play that scored the Blue Wahoos lone run of the game. Battenfield then retired JJ Bleday with a ground out to end the inning.

Birmingham racked up 11 hits in the game, but only three off a trio of Blue Wahoos relievers. Blue Wahoos shortstop Demetrius went 2-for-4, leading the way among the team’s five hits.

With so much uncertainty on how in-game activities would evolve, the Blue Wahoos were able to generate some of their most popular contests, including the beloved “Roach Run” after the fifth inning in the outfield. They ran the Military Mascot Races on the concourse after the sixth inning.

The Blue Wahoos also became a pregame site for coronavirus vaccines. Nurses from the Department of Health administered the Johnson & Johnson dose to a group of people in the Cox Clubhouse area on the concourse. Vaccinations will also be available on Saturday and Sunday before the final two games of this full-week series.

The homestand will continue Wednesday at 6:35 p.m. against the Barons.

The Blue Wahoos will play Thursday and Friday games at 6:35 p.m. as well, then have their first Fireworks Saturday game at 6:05 p.m. before closing the 6-game series on Sunday at 4:05 p.m.

By Bill Vilona, Blue Wahoos Senior Writer

Photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

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