Burdick’s Slam Propels Wahoos To Thrilling 5-4 Win

May 29, 2021

Peyton Burdick blasted a go-ahead grand slam in the top of the ninth against Braden Webb (L, 1-1) to give the Blue Wahoos an improbable 5-4 win against the Shuckers on Friday night.

Pensacola entered the top of ninth trailing 3-1. Webb, who was one of six pitchers used by the Shuckers on Friday, was making his third in appearance in four nights. He opened the ninth by walking Lazaro Alonso before striking out Lorenzo Hampton.

After the strikeout, Bubba Hollins and Devin Hairston delivered back-to-back singles with two strikes to load the bases. That brought up Burdick, who fell behind 0-2, crushed a 2-2 changeup over the left-field netting to put the Wahoos up 5-3.

With the sudden lead, the Wahoos quickly got Colton Hock (S, 5) up and into the game in the bottom of the ninth. Chad Spanberger and Tyler Friis led off the inning with singles, setting the Shuckers up with the winning run at the plate and nobody out.

However, Hock escaped peril by striking out Ryan Aguilar before Tristen Lutz grounded into am RBI fielder’s choice. With the Shuckers down 5-4 and the tying run on, Brice Turang popped out to third to end the game.

Earlier in the night, there was serious doubt as to whether these two teams would even finish Friday’s contest.

In the bottom of the second with the game tied at 1-1, heavy rain made its way through the area and forced the game into 1 hour, 28-minute delay. After a lengthy discussion between the managers, the umpires, and member of the Shuckers’ Front Office, the decision was made to resume the game at 8:30.

Jeff Lindgren was Pensacola’s starter on Friday, and despite having to wait almost an hour and a half between innings, the right hander remained in the game after the delay. Lindgren pitched 3.2 innings for the Wahoos, but gave them much needed length, which helped saved the bullpen for later in the game.

Biloxi starter Noah Zavolas pitched two innings for Biloxi but made way for Peter Strzelecki after the rain delay.

With the Wahoos trailing 3-1, Zach Wolf, Sean Guenther and Zack Leban pitched a combined 4.1 innings of scoreless ball. Those relievers only allowed a total of one hit, one walk while striking out eight. That set the stage for Hock to collect his league-best fifth save of the season.

Burdick has now homered in five of his last 10 games for the Wahoos and has 10 RBI during that stretch, while JJ Bleday snapped an eight-game hitless streak by going 2-for-4 with a double and a triple.

The series continues Saturday evening where the Wahoos will look to close out their third series win of the year. LHP Will Stewart (0-1, 3.21) will make his fourth start of the year for the Wahoos. Biloxi has yet to announce their Saturday starter, after Zavolas (Biloxi’s original starter for Saturday) had to pitch tonight.

by Chris Garagiola, Pensacola Blue Wahoos

Wahoos Six-Game Win Streak Ends After Loss To Shuckers

May 28, 2021

It looked like it might be a long night for Pensacola starter Brandon Leibrandt (L, 0-2), who had given up two runs to the first three batters of the game. Jamie Westbrook hit a two-run double with nobody out to put Biloxi up 2-0, and it appeared it might be a huge inning against the Wahoos.

However, Leibrandt responded immediately by forcing a couple of groundouts, including an inning-ending double play to escape the first inning with no further damage done.

Pensacola had a response immediately for the Shuckers as they scored in the top of the second against Leo Crawford (W, 1-1). After a leadoff walk by Tristan Pompey, Riley Mahan doubled before Pompey scored on an RBI groundout from Bubba Hollins, which was his first RBI of the season.

Unfortunately for the Blue Wahoos, the offense would end there. Despite finishing the night with seven hits, Pensacola was 0-for-9 as a team with runners in scoring position. The win for Biloxi was their first since Sunday, when they took the series finale against the Smokies 7-3.

Pensacola will try to take control of the series tomorrow when the Wahoos send RHP Jeff Lindgren (2-1, 2.50) to the mound against RHP Luis Contreras (0-1, 5.19).

by Chris Garagiola, Pensacola Blue Wahoos

File photo.

Mahan’s Ninth-Inning Homer Powers Wahoos to Sixth Straight Win

May 27, 2021

Riley Mahan couldn’t have picked a better time to deliver his first home run of the season. In a 2-2 game in the top of the ninth, Mahan drilled a three-run homer off Jake Cousins (L, 0-1) and the Wahoos held on for a dramatic 5-4 win against Biloxi on Wednesday night for the sixth consecutive victory.

Cousins, who was the fifth pitcher used by Biloxi on Wednesday, entered the game in the ninth with the game tied at 2-2. Nick Fortes led off the inning with a single before Cousins struck out Tristan Pompey. After he walked Lazaro Alonso to put runners on first and second, Mahan crushed a no-doubter to deep left center to put Pensacola up 5-2.

Biloxi put up a fight in the bottom of the ninth against Brian McKenna (W, 3-0), who was in his second inning of relief.

David Fry homered on the first pitch he saw in the ninth to bring the Shuckers to within two. After back-to-back strikeouts, Tyler Fries singled to center before Ryan Aguilar drew a two-out walk.

The next batter was Tristen Lutz, who dropped a run-scoring single into shallow center to make it a 5-4 game. That brought up Brice Turang, who enters this season as the Brewers #1 prospect according to Baseball America. With the tying run at third, Turang flew out to left field to end the game.

The late-game drama in Wednesday’s game distracts slightly from the start of the contest, which featured two of best young pitching prospects.

Jake Eder made his fourth start of the year for the Blue Wahoos and allowed one hit in five innings. He allowed one run that was unearned in the third, after the Wahoos made two separate errors that allowed Friis to both reach base and score.

Outside of that, Eder was virtually untouchable, with Biloxi’s only hit a bunt single that was momentarily misplayed by Alonso in the bottom of the fifth. Eder struck out eight, bringing his season total to 34, which after tonight is the most in the Double-A South.

Biloxi had their #2 pitching prospect (_Baseball America_), Ethan Small on the mound who also struck out eight in five innings of work. He allowed two runs in his start, the first of which came after a first-inning walk to JJ Bleday and then an RBI double to Fortes. In the third inning, Peyton Burdick doubled and eventually scored after a couple of wild pitches.

The road trip continues tomorrow night when both teams will once again send out a couple of lefties on the bump. Brandon Leibrandt gets the nod for Pensacola (0-1, 9.00) while Biloxi will go with Leo Crawford (0-1, 9.26).

by Chris Garagiola, Pensacola Blue Wahoos

File photo.

UWF Campus To Host First Argos Football Game In September

May 26, 2021

The University of West Florida Argonauts will play their first-ever regular season football game on the UWF Pensacola Campus, hosting Southwest Baptist at Pen Air Field on Sept. 11, 2021.

The Argos will host the Bearcats for a special, one-time only, on-campus game. The UWF campus will be buzzing with activity leading up to the 6 p.m. kickoff.

“I’m looking forward to hosting Argo fans on our beautiful campus,” said UWF President Martha D. Saunders. “It will be a grand event and, as always, the best party in town.”

The Argos play their home games at Blue Wahoos Stadium. But this first home game for 2021 will be moved to the UWF Pensacola Campus due a conflict with the Blue Wahoos’ schedule.

“This is a great opportunity to create a college game day atmosphere on our beautiful campus,” explained UWF Athletic Director Dave Scott. “We have accomplished several firsts with football, but this will be the first-ever Argonaut Football Game on campus, at Pen Air Field, and the ticket will be something Argo fans will want to hang on to.”

The game will be a campus-wide event with involvement from a variety of organizations.

The first-ever, on-campus game will be another opportunity to celebrate the Argos’ 2019 NCAA Division II National Championship with the greater Pensacola community. The event will also showcase the UWF Football facilities in the Darrell Gooden Center and on Pen Air Field.

“We are looking forward to sharing this historic day on Pen Air Field with our great fans,” said UWF Head Coach Pete Shinnick.

The Argos are 35-17 in four seasons under Coach Shinnick. UWF is 13-7 at home during those first four seasons.

Season tickets for the UWF Football 2021 schedule are on sale now. Season ticket holders who renew their tickets by July 16, 2021 will have this game included in their season ticket price.

Those with UWF Football parking passes will be able to use their pass for this on-campus game as well.

Single game tickets will go on sale August 1.

Three Blue Wahoos Homer In 4-1 Series Opening Win Over Shuckers

May 26, 2021

Max Meyer (W, 2-1) twirled five shutout innings against the Shuckers and three different Wahoos homered en route to a 4-1 series opening win at MGM Park on Tuesday.

Meyer, who dazzled in his previous outing against Rocket City, continued his dominant pitching against a veteran Biloxi team. Meyer scattered two hits across his five scoreless innings, and walked only one while striking out three. Over Meyer’s last two outings, the Marlins #3 prospect has not given up a run over 10.2 innings of work.

Offensively, the team with the fewest home runs in the Double-A South slugged their way to win.

Lazaro Alonso doubled his home run tally in the second when he led off the inning with an opposite-field homer off Bowden Francis (L, 3-1) to put the Wahoos up 1-0. After Bleday doubled the Wahoos lead in the third with an RBI groundout, Nick Fortes launched his first home run of the season to make it 3-0.

The reigning Double-A South hitter of the week, Peyton Burdick, continued his hot streak when he belted his fifth home run of the season in the fifth inning to make it 4-0.

It was a true boom-or-bust night for the Wahoos, who set a new season high for home runs in a game, but also struck out 16 times.

The bullpen was excellent again for the Blue Wahoos. Despite the fact that Zack Leban was touched up for one run in two innings of work, Sean Guenther delivered a scoreless eighth inning and Colton Hock worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the ninth to capture his fourth save of the season. Over the bullpen’s last 31.1 innings of work, the pitchers have only allowed seven earned runs (2.01 ERA) and have issued four walks compared to 44 strikeouts.

The series continues tomorrow evening at 6:35 PM CT in Biloxi. LHP Jake Eder (1-1, 0.60) will face LHP Ethan Small (1-1, 5.25).

File photo.

Burdick Stays Hot In Wahoos Series Finale Win Over The Trash Pandas

May 24, 2021

This season had gotten off to rough start at the plate for Peyton Burdick, so the Blue Wahoos outfielder returned to a past approach.

“Just getting back to doing what I normally do as a hitter and staying the other way with it,” he said. “Seeing the ball and reacting to it.

“And there is no better feeling than putting the ball on the barrel. I think once you start feeling that more often, then your body naturally syncs up with your swing.”

Burdick was back in harmony Sunday, capping a big week and helping the Blue Wahoos to a 7-4 victory against the Rocket City Trash Pandas in a series finale that put the exclamation on Pensacola’s six-game performance at Blue Wahoos Stadium.

A capacity crowd (5,038) was entertained with another fast start, then stellar relief pitching in the final innings.

“Our bullpen, are starters have been absolutely shoving,” said Burdick, the Miami Marlins’ No. 12-rated prospect by MLB Pipeline.com, who went 2-for-5 with a triple, double and RBI. “They always give us a good start and give us a good chance to win. It was nice to see the bats come through.

“We have been sort of spotty in the lineup, and today we started syncing up one hit at a time and taking what the game was giving up.”

The Blue Wahoos (11-7) took five of the six games against Rocket City (8-10) putting a gap in a first-place, divisional lead among a twin set of four teams in the Double-A South.

Burdick was one of three players with multiple hits. Right fielder Lorenzo Hampton, the son of the former Florida Gators and Miami Dolphins running back, went 2-for-4 with two RBI. Devin Hairston went 2-for-4.

Connor Justus drove in three runs with a home run and a sacrifice.

The Blue Wahoos followed Saturday’s early-inning production with an even better offense Sunday.

They loaded the bases in the first inning on a leadoff triple by Burdick, followed by a walk to JJ Bleday and Nick Fortes reaching when hit by a pitch.

With one out, Tristan Pompey coaxed a bases-loaded walk for the first run.

Hampton followed by lacing a two-run single to right. Justus’ sacrifice fly scored Pompey and gave the Blue Wahoos a 4-0 lead.

In the second inning, after Hairston led off with a single, he scored on a Burdick’s double into the left field corner. In the series, Burdick also hit three home runs.

“I think what started clicking for me was our last game of our series at home,” he said. “I think I had a couple lineouts the other way and that’s when I felt my body and my swing started to sync up a little bit and just being able to drive the ball the other way. It just opens everything.”

The bats were matched by a solid start from Jose Mesa Jr., who worked the first three innings, struck out three, walked none and the only run was a home run.

Brian McKenna earned his second win by pitching scoreless innings in the sixth and seventh. Colton Hock earned his third save in the ninth.

The game ended a two-week, 12-game homestand for the Blue Wahoos. They went 2-4 against the Birmingham Barons a week ago.

The Blue Wahoos have Monday off, then will travel to Biloxi, Miss. for a six-game series starting Tuesday against the Biloxi Shuckers, the Milwaukee Brewers Double-A affiliate.

Just like Friday and Saturday, the Sunday crowd created a special atmosphere. And the fifth-inning “Roach Run” that Burdick gets to witness as a left fielder was filled with hundreds of kids.

“It just reminded me of when I was a little kid,” Burdick said. “You just want to get out there and see what the other guys see. All those little kids, you see their smiles when they are running. It’s just great seeing the energy from the fans. They create a lot of energy in the game. It’s a great environment to play in.”

by Bill Vilona, Blue Wahoos senior writer

Blue Wahoos Strike Out 19 In Win Over Rocket City

May 23, 2021

On this Saturday, the Blue Wahoos started the show well before the fireworks.

Playing before an overflow, energized sellout crowd of 5,038, the Blue Wahoos lit up the scoreboard with runs in each of the first four innings, then had a trio of pitchers pop a combined 19 strikeouts in a 6-2 victory against the Rocket City Trash Pandas to clinch their weekend series.

It provided plenty of entertainment in a setting featuring the concourses crowded with fans and the outfield berm filled with families on every square foot of grass.

“I think anyone would tell you, when you are playing on that field, you feed off the crowd,” said Blue Wahoos hitting coach Scott Seabol. “The crowd was awesome.”

Eight of the nine hitters in the Blue Wahoos lineup factoring into the scoring.

One of those was cleanup batter Lazaro Alonso, who blasted an opposite field homer over the left field wall in the fourth for the Blue Wahoos final run and his first homer in this ballpark.

Like so often this season, there was scoring efficiency. The Blue Wahoos had six runs on six hits, including RBI from the bottom third of the lineup. Five of the runs were produced on two-out hits.

“I feel like to this point in the season, we have been taking great at-bats and hitting the ball hard, but we were just missing that big two out, two-run single.”

That changed in the first inning when Tristan Pompey smashed a two-out, two-run single.

After Rocket City scored a pair of runs in the third, the Blue Wahoos answered in the bottom of that inning with RBI hits from Connor Justus and Devin Hairston.

Those clutch hits neutralized the 15 strikeouts recorded by Trash Pandas’ pitchers. The teams totaled a combined 34 strikeouts, but Pensacola held a 6-2 lead through the final five innings.

“I felt like our pitching staff has been doing a great job keeping us in games and then allowing to come back late,” Seabol said. “So it was nice to help them out early and take the pressure off a little bit.”

The Blue Wahoos end a two-week, 12-game homestand with Sunday’s series finale against the Trash Pandas. They have taken four of the first five games in a first-ever series between the teams and return of Pensacola’s Jay Bell as Rocket City manager.

Northview Chiefs Take On Flomaton In Spring Game (With Photo Gallery)

May 22, 2021

The Northview Chiefs and Flomaton Hurricanes met in a spring game Friday night in Bratt.

In the first half varsity scrimmage, Flomaton defeated Northview 28-6. In the second half scrimmage, Northview beat Flomaton 7-0.

For a NorthEscambia.com photo gallery, click or tap here.

NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.

Tate Aggies, Escambia Gators Meet In Spring Game (With Gallery)

May 22, 2021

The Tate Aggie and Escambia Gators  met in a spring game Friday night at Escambia.

In the first half scrimmage, Escambia defeated Tate 7-3. In the second half varsity scrimmage, Escambia topped Tate 27-7.

For more photos, click here.

NorthEscambia.com photos by Jennifer Repine, click to enlarge.

Pitching, Defense Lead Blue Wahoos To 2-1 Win Over The Trash Pandas

May 22, 2021

The Blue Wahoos already won a couple games this week on walk-off hits.

Friday night, they got an edge-of-seat win with their pitchers thriving on a tight rope of pressure.

Despite yielding 11 hits, including a home run, the Blue Wahoos beat the Rocket City Trash Pandas 2-1, amid an energized, sellout crowd at Blue Wahoos Stadium.

They did it with continued clutch pitches at critical times. And fittingly, closer Colton Hock’s glove made a big save on a bullet up the middle that Hock snared and threw for the final out, generating a loud roar of happiness.

“Usually (game like Friday), there are some double plays involved, some big plays, scattering hits, and that’s what we did,” said Blue Wahoos pitching coach Tim Norton.

They did all of that, plus more, in a win unlike any other, so far this first season as a Miami Marlins affiliate. The series continues Saturday and Sunday before a 12-game homestand ends.

The Blue Wahoos (9-7) turned four double-plays – three of those to end innings with multiple baserunners. A trio of pitchers combined to strand seven Rocket City (8-8) runners in scoring position. They also got some terrific defense, led by left fielder Tristan Pompey’s running, sliding backhand catch in foul territory to end the third inning.

Meanwhile, the Blue Wahoos got just enough offense on five hits. One of those was a no-doubt, blast over left field by Peyton Burdick to lead off the eighth-inning. It was third home run this week.

And it became the decisive run. The Wahoos go their other run in the fifth when Chris Chinea was hit by a pitch, moved into scoring position on Pompey’s single and scored on Lorenzo Hampton’s single.

Less than three weeks into the season, the Blue Wahoos pitching staff has collectively been a clear strength, save for a couple rough nights against Birmingham last week.

“We have some elite stuff on this staff in our rotation and in the bullpen,” Norton said. “We have some pretty good octane out there in the bullpen, so it’s a combination of good stuff, throwing strikes, catchers understanding what (pitchers) are trying to do.

“A lot goes into each day preparing for nine innings.”

It showed again with starter Jeff Lindgren battling his way into another quality start.

He went six innings without a walk, striking out three and overcoming eight hits by continuing to get game-changing outs to end threats.

“He’s got a good 2-seamer (fastball),” Norton said. “He is willing and able to pitch in. Obviously, his pitch is his slider. Guys can’t seem to pick it up real good.

“He sprinkles enough change-ups to keep guys honest, but it’s his slider that has taken him over. No panic, he is really composed. He understands he’s one pitch away.

“He feels like he can punch anyone out with that slider, so there’s no panic. He’s been doing a great job. He has probably been in four tough innings in the last 13 innings and he has escaped all of them.”

All of his attributes occurred Friday, followed by stellar relief.

After Zach Leban got his second hold with 1.2 scoreless innings, Hock followed in the eighth inning with two out, two on, and delivered a strikeout pitch.

In the ninth, he gave up a one-out home run to Torii Hunter Jr., son of the former Minnesota Twins star, struck out the next batter and ended the game with his fielding play on the mound.

by Bill Vilona, Blue Wahoos senior writer

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