Photos: Jay High Day At The Blue Wahoos

August 4, 2021

The Pensacola Blue Wahoos held Jay Day on Monday, featuring the Jay High School Royals and a local state championship softball team.

The Jay High band performed the National Anthem, and the Jay Royals varsity and junior varsity cheerleading squads also performed.

New principal Benjie West, a Jay graduate who took over June 4, threw out the first pitch.

And the The Tri-County 8-10 Softball All-Star Team was honored for winning the Florida Little League state championship.

For a photo gallery, click here.

Photos courtesy Blue Wahoos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Justus Shines In Wahoos 5-2 Win Against Shuckers

August 4, 2021

Connor Justus and Brian Navarreto each homered for the Wahoos as Pensacola took Tuesday’s series opener 5-2 at MGM Park.

After trailing 2-0, the Wahoos scored five unanswered, giving Kyle Nicolas (W, 1-0) his first career Double-A win.

Nicolas was excellent in his second start with the Wahoos. He allowed two runs in five innings while striking out six. Biloxi’s only offense came in the bottom of the third when Garrett Mitchell—the Brewers top prospect according to MLB Pipeline—launched a two-run homer to right to put the hosts ahead. Mitchell’s homer was one of only three hits Biloxi’s offense mustered against Nicolas.

Pensacola’s comeback effort began in the top of the fifth. After Demetrius Sims walked, Riley Mahan doubled to left center to put Pensacola on the board. The next batter, Justus, crushed a two-run homer to left field to put the Wahoos ahead 3-2. For Justus, it was his second home run of the season.

In the seventh, Justus walked to begin the inning. After a perfectly executed sac bunt from Galli Cribbs, the Wahoos picked up another run thanks to Peyton Burdick’s second double of the night. Leading 4-2, the Wahoos added one more when Brian Navarreto hit a solo homer of J.T. Hintzen to put Pensacola up 5-2.

The Wahoos bullpen, which had its struggles in the previous series against Mississippi, was magnificent against the Shuckers. Three different relievers pitched four scoreless innings while only allowing four total baserunners.

The series continues tomorrow night with RHP Max Meyer on the mound for Pensacola. He will be opposed by RHP Jesus Castillo.

Blue Wahoos Breakout With Big Win On Jay High Day At The Ballpark

August 2, 2021

The Blue Wahoos touted tandem, outfielders J.J. Bleday and Griffin Conine, made sure Sunday was a fun day — Jay High Day at the ballpark.

And maybe a well-needed one, too.

After what had been a rough homestand, both with weather and team results, Bleday and Conine put a charge into the mood by producing two big hits apiece and six runs batted in, as the Blue Wahoos busted out with an 11-3 victory against the Mississippi Braves in the final game of their series.

While the M-Braves took four of the six games, what occurred Sunday among an energized crowd at Blue Wahoos Stadium left a good mood to finish the weekend.

“We want to just keep building off (Sunday),” said Bleday, who went 2-for-5, scored three runs and scorched the ball in four plate appearances. “We have been struggling.. We have been letting some games affect us, but today we did a really good job.. We came out hot.”

That started with Bleday’s lead-off single in the first inning, followed an out later by Conine’s two-run blast off a 99-mph fastball. The moon shot exited his bat and carried 441 feet over right center wall, bounced on the concourse, then bounded out of the stadium.

It continued Conine’s lead as the top home run hitter (26) in Minor League Baseball.

“This series (M-Braves) did a really good job of fastballs up every at bat,” said Conine, who was elevated a week ago from the Beloit Snappers, the Miami Marlins’ High-A affiliate where he hit 23 homers.

“(M-Braves pitchers) all throw 96 to 98 (mph) and that is tough to get on top off. So (Sunday) I really put emphasis in pregame work with fastball machine.

“Getting one (homer) in the first (inning) was awesome. It was a lot of fun out there today.”

The enjoyment carried through the stadium. It was Jay Day at the ballpark, complete with Jay High School’s band, their cheerleaders and their principal all part of pregame activities.

They started the festivities, then the Blue Wahoos followed with their performance.

Riley Mahan followed Conine’s homer with a solo shot in the first. The Blue Wahoos then knocked out M-Braves starter Victor Vodnik with a four-run second inning, highlighted by Bleday’s 2-run triple.

Vodnik was strong in Mississippi’s win Tuesday in the first game of the series, but faced only 12 batters Sunday when pulled with one out in the second on Jay High Day at the ballpark.

Seven of the nine batters in the Blue Wahoos lineup factored into the scoring. The big boost came from the bottom of the order with J.D. Orr, Connor Justus and Galli Cribbs Jr. combining for five hits, six runs scored and they reached base a combined 10 times in the game.

After the Blue Wahoos game Friday night was rained out, the team ended a seven-game losing streak by winning Saturday’s first game of a doubleheader and followed Sunday with one of the top performances this season.

“I think (postponement) allowed guys to get some rest and hit the reset button,” Bleday said. “These last two games we won were a good area where we want to be at.”

Will Stewart, as he’s so often done this season, delivered a quality start on the mound. He worked five innings, allowed just hits, one walk and struck out six to earn his fourth win.

Four relievers followed. The Blue Wahoos turned three double-plays and new catcher Santiago Chavez threw out the M-Braves’ Justin Dean trying to steal third in the first inning.

In all, the Blue Wahoos got 11 runs on 11 hits. They will now head to Biloxi for a week-long series against the Shuckers at MGM Park in Biloxi, Miss.

His first week in Pensacola left Conine with a good impression of the crowd setting at Blue Wahoos Stadium.

“The ballpark is awesome,” said Conine, 24, the son of Jeff Conine, a 17-year Major League player, two-time All Star, who led the Marlins to both of their World Series titles.

“It is really fun,” he said. “The fans are really into it. I know Beloit is getting a new ballpark (opens Tuesday), but playing in the old one, I’m definitely not used to the fan electricity and the buzz at the ballpark like here.”

It was Jay Day in a big way at the ballpark. The Jay HS band entertained fans outside the stadium before the game with various songs. The band then performed the National Anthem.

The Jay High varsity and junior varsity cheerleading squads also performed before the game.

New principal Benjie West, a Jay graduate who took over June 4, threw out the first pitch. In addition, the Jay 10-under girls softball team was honored before the game for winning a state tournament championship.

by Bill Vilona, Senior Writer, Pensacola Blue Wahoos

Blue Wahoos Split Doubleheader, Snap Seven Game Losing Streak

August 1, 2021

The Blue Wahoos snapped their seven-game losing streak with a doubleheader split on Saturday night at Blue Wahoos Stadium. Pensacola took the first game with a 5-0 win, but lost game two by a final score of 8-1.

Elieser Hernandez took the mound in game one as part of a Major League Rehab assignment for Miami. The three-year major league veteran looked impressive in his 2.2 innings of shutout ball. Hernandez—who is recovering from a right quadriceps injury—allowed one hit and struck out three. He was removed after throwing 46 pitches.

Offensively, the Blue Wahoos relied on power in order to surge past Mississippi. Three of the top hitting prospects in the Marlins system, JJ Bleday, Griffin Conine, and Peyton Burdick all homered in the win. Conine belted a two-run shot in the bottom of the first to put the Wahoos quickly ahead. Bleday crushed a solo shot to center in the fifth before Burdick added his own solo homer in the sixth.

Andrew Nardi replaced Hernandez in the third inning and 2.1 innings of one-hit shutout ball. Pensacola brought in Zack Leban to clean up the game’s final two innings en route to the club’s first shutout win of 2021.

In the second game, Jeff Lindgren struggled on the mound as the M-Braves clubbed five home runs in the win. Mississippi has now hit 18 home runs through the first five games of the series, which is the most homers in a five-game stretch in the club’s history. With the defeat, Pensacola has now lost four consecutive series.

The series finale is Sunday afternoon

M-Braves Hand Wahoos Seventh Straight Defeat With 5-1 Loss

July 30, 2021

For the third night in a row, Pensacola saw an early lead evaporate at the Blue Wahoos fell 5-1 to the M-Braves on Thursday night.

Pensacola starter Zach McCambley (L, 0-3) allowed four runs—including a pair of homers—in 4.2 innings of work. The 22-year-old struck out five while only walking two in his second career start at Blue Wahoos Stadium.

Pensacola took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning when Lazaro Alonso led off the frame with a solo home run. For Alonso, it was his first home run since May 28th against the Biloxi Shuckers.

After that Mississippi scored five unanswered. Immediately after the Alonso homer, Greyson Jenista homered in the top of the third to tie the game. The M-Braves tooka 2-1 lead later in that inning after Braden Shewmake doubled home Jalen Miller with two outs in the frame. The visitors added three more runs, including a pair of homers late, bringing the total of home runs allowed this series up to 13 in three games.

Mississippi’s starter, Freddy Tarnok (W, 1-0), struck out 12 Wahoos across five innings of work. Outside of the home run, Tarnok only allowed two other hits while walking only two for his first career Double-A win. Pensacola batters struck out 20 times on Thursday, which is the highest strikeout total this season in a single game. The Wahoos are also mired in their worst losing streak of the season, having lost seven straight games dating back to July 22nd.

The series continues Friday when RHP Jeff Lindgren toes the rubber (3-6, 4.76). Opposing Lindgren will be RHP Spencer Strider (1-4, 6.65).

Lightning Forces Shortened Game; Wahoos Lose 5-2 To M-Braves

July 29, 2021

Pensacola’s bullpen woes continued as the M-Braves scored three runs late to win Wednesday’s rain-shortened affair 5-2 at Blue Wahoos Stadium.

Tied at 2-2, Josh Roberson (L, 1-1) surrendered a pair of home runs in the top of the seventh to Drew Lugbauer and Jalen Miller that ultimately sealed Pensacola’s fate. In the top of the eighth, Braden Shewmake also hit a solo home run to give Mississippi the winning 5-2 score.

Offensively, it was a déjà vu performance where Pensacola took the lead early and couldn’t score fir the rest of the night. After a double by Griffin Conine, Chris Chinea launched a two-run homer off Bryce Elder (4-1) to put Pensacola up 2-0. After that, Elder did not allow another run and finished his outing with nine strikeouts and three walks across seven innings.

In the top of the second, Pensacola starter Max Meyer had a momentary lapse in his command that led to a pair of runs. After a pair of singles, Meyer threw three wild pitches that allowed Shea Langeliers and Wendell Rijo both to score, which tied the game at 2-2. After that, Meyer was terrific and finished the night with five innings pitched, five hits allowed, one walk surrendered while striking out seven.

In the last two games, Pensacola’s relievers have yielded 10 home runs in seven innings. Over the past four games, Pensacola’s bullpen has allowed 26 runs (22 ER) over 15 innings, which is an ERA of 13.20 during that stretch. The Wahoos have now lost six consecutive games and 11 of their past 13.

With Seven Homers, M-Braves Beat The Wahoos 9-3

July 28, 2021

After being no-hit for five innings, the M-Braves clubbed seven homers en route to a convincing 9-3 win on Tuesday night at Blue Wahoos Stadium.

The end of the game distracts from its start, which featured a brilliant pitching performance from Kyle Nicolas in his Double-A debut.

The right-hander consistently flashed a fastball in the upper 90s while striking out a bevy of M-Brave batters. He struck out one in the first, then another two in the second, before striking out the side in the third. Despite four walks on the night, Nicolas finished his outing with no hits allowed and eight strikeouts across five shutout innings.

There was a brief injury scare when Nicolas was struck by a line drive from the last batter he faced in his outing (Trey Harris). Fortunately, the ball hit off his back and popped up to the second baseman Demetrius Sims, who made the catch to end the inning.

The game also started positively for the Wahoos in the first inning when they took a 1-0 lead. After JJ Bleday doubled, he scored on a two-out RBI base hit from Lazaro Alonso in his first game back in over a month with the Wahoos.

Once Nicolas left the game, things turned south for the Wahoos very quickly. The bullpen surrendered seven homers in the final four innings, including four solo homers in the top of the seventh. Six different M-Braves hit home runs, and top Atlanta’s top catching prospect, Shea Langeliers turned in a multi-homer performance.

The Wahoos scored two runs late, but never seriously mounted a comeback challenge as Pensacola dropped its fifth game in a row, and its ninth in 10 tries.

The series continues tomorrow evening as the Wahoos try to tie up the series on Wednesday night. RHP Max Meyer (4-1, 1.80) takes the hill for Pensacola against RHP Bryce Elder (3-1, 3.60

Homers From Bleday, Conine Not Enough As Wahoos Lose 6-5 To Biscuits

July 25, 2021

Down by two in the bottom of the ninth, Chris Betts smacked a three-run, walk-off home run against Andrew McInvale (L, 1-2) to give the Biscuits an unexpected 6-5 win Saturday night at Montgomery Riverwalk Stadium.

Leading 5-3, McInvale was brought into the ninth to try and secure his first save of the year. Instead, it was evident the right-hander was struggling to find command of his fastball. After back-to-back walks, he fell behind Betts 3-0 before eventually surrendering an opposite field homer, giving the Biscuits their ninth win in 10 games.

For Pensacola, it was arguably their best performance of the series. Jeff Lindgren was excellent in his five innings of work. He allowed just one run on three hits while walking only two. He also snapped a streak of eight consecutive starts in which he allowed at least one home run.

Offensively, after a dormant showing in the series, the Wahoos managed to attack Biscuit starter Peyton Battenfield and take the lead early. After Nick Fortes laced a two-out double in the bottom of the fourth, Griffin Conine belted an opposite field homer—his 24th on the season—for his first career Double-A home run.

After Montgomery scored in the bottom of the fourth to cut the lead down to 2-1, Pensacola tacked on two more runs in the sixth. With the bases loaded and newly acquired reliever Calvin Faucher on the mound for Montgomery, J.D. Osborne blooped a two-run single to left to score Peyton Burdick and JJ Bleday. Faucher was part of the Nelson Cruz trade earlier in the week.

The Biscuits rallied in the bottom of the seventh for a pair of runs against Dylan Bice. With runners on first and second and two outs, Ford Proctor singled sharply to right. Niko Hulsizer blew past the stop sign from his manager, but still scored because Conine’s throw from right sailed over Fortes and Bice backing up the play. Cal Stevenson also tried to score on the play and was initially ruled out; however, but later called safe due to interference from third baseman Connor Justus. Once the dust settled, Montgomery trailed 4-3.

The Wahoos got one run back thanks to Bleday’s solo blast off Ivan Pelaez (W, 6-5) in the top of the eighth. For Bleday it was his eighth homer of the season and his second in four days. Unfortunately for the Wahoos, the two-run lead was not enough as the Biscuits collected their sixth walk-off win of the season.

The series concludes afternoon.

Pensacola’s Late Push Not Enough, Biscuits Down Wahoos 4-3

July 24, 2021

The Blue Wahoos fell behind 4-0 early and watched their comeback bid come up short against the Biscuits, losing 4-3 on Friday night at Montgomery Riverwalk Stadium.

Zach McCambley’s (L, 0-2) start tonight was more similar to his Double-A debut, and not his most recent start. Pensacola’s starter gave up runs in each of the first four innings and was pulled after 3.1 innings for the second time this season.

Trailing 1-0 in the second, Chriss Betts homered of the right-field foul pole to put the Biscuits up 2-0. In the third inning with the bases loaded and nobody out, Jonathan Aranda grounded a single to left field that scored two, doubling Montgomery’s lead.

The Wahoos had an immediate response in the fourth inning when the scored twice against Adrian De Horta. After a leadoff single, Demetrius Sims advanced from first-to-third on a soft grounder to third due to some savvy baserunning. He scored one batter later on a fielder’s choice, in which the third basebase tried to nab Sims at the plate. With everybody safe on the play, Griffin Conine tallied his first Double-A hit with an RBI double to the left-center gap.

Pensacola missed a golden opportunity to score in the top of the fifth with the bases loaded and only one out. However, Nick Fortes struck out and Conine flew out to end the threat.

Fortes redeemed himself in the eighth when he smashed a no-doubt homer to left to make it a 4-3 game. However, the Biscuits retired the next six batters in order, with Montgomery closer Chris Muller (S, 7) striking out the side in the ninth to close out the game.

Pensacola’s bullpen was the bright spot in the game, as three different relievers combined to throw 4.2 innings of one-hit, shutout baseball. Pensacola’s offense stalled once again, as they were held to just three hits while striking out 15 times. The Wahoos have recorded 14 hits through the first four games of this series while striking out 56 times.

The penultimate game of the series is tomorrow at 6:05 PM CT in Montgomery. RHP Jeff Lindgren (3-6, 4.98) gets the green light for the Wahoos while he will be opposed by RHP Peyton Battenfield (3-0, 2.33).

Biscuits Power Past Blue Wahoos 5-3 Thursday

July 23, 2021

Despite a late push from the Wahoos, Pensacola couldn’t surmount a four-run deficit and lost to the Biscuits 5-3 on Wednesday night at Montgomery Riverwalk Stadium.

Jake Eder (L, 3-4) tied his career high with four runs allowed in 4.1 innings of work. The left hander breezed through the first couple of innings but ran into trouble in the third.

After a pair of walks in the third, Xavier Edwards grounded a double inside the third-base line for a two-run double to put Montgomery ahead 2-0. After the Biscuits tacked on another run in the fourth, Eder gave up a double to Edwards prior to being lifted from the game in favor of Andrew McInvale. Unfortunately for the Wahoos, McInvale surrended a two-run homer on an 0-2 pitch to Jonathan Aranda, which gave the Biscuits a 5-0 lead.

Pensacola chipped away against the Biscuits in the second half of the contest. Nick Fortes lined an RBI double to left to put Pensacola on the board in the sixth.

In the seventh, after a J.D. Osborne single, Riley Mahan hit his second of two doubles to put runners at second and third with nobody out. Pensacola used a couple of productive RBI outs to bring home both runners and cut the deficit to 5-3.

In the eighth, JJ Bleday led off the inning with a double to deep right; however, the offense came to a stop shortly after as the Wahoos could not bring him home in the frame. Joel Peguero (S, 1) then retired the Wahoos in order in the ninth to close out the game.

The fourth game of the series begins on Friday at 6:35 PM CT. RHP Zach McCambley (0-1, 5.79) will make his third career Double-A start for the Wahoos. He will be opposed by the combination of LHP Kenny Rosenberg and RHP Adrian De Horta.

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