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Familiarity Breeds Loss for Blue Wahoos

July 12, 2019 - Southern League (SL) - Pensacola Blue Wahoos News Release

Their parent teams have spring training homes less than 45 minutes apart, so the Blue Wahoos knew the Montgomery Biscuits style of play well before Thursday's first meeting this season.

That didn't make it any less challenging, however, to contain.

The Biscuits, the Tampa Bay Rays affiliate, manufactured early-game runs with aggressive baserunning and moving runners on sacrifice situations, then produced big hits later for a 9-2 win against the Blue Wahoos to start their six-game series at Blue Wahoos Stadium.

"We played these guys all the time in spring training, so we knew they were an aggressive team on the basepaths," said Blue Wahoos second baseman Travis Blankenhorn, who went 2-for-4 Thursday as the team's lone player with multiple hits.

The Blue Wahoos, part of the Minnesota Twins, have spring training in Fort Myers. The Tampa Bay Rays train in Port Charlotte, located about 30 miles north on I-75.

"They just seemed to have more guys that can run well," Blankenhorn said. "They want to make things happen. That's their game."

The Biscuits (13-8 second half) made it happen Thursday with six of nine successful stolen base attempts, along with a pair of sacrifice bunts and were six-for-17 among their 10 hits with runners in scoring position.

It led into the Blue Wahoos' six loss in the past seven games. But the good news for the Blue Wahoos is that the other four teams in their Southern League South Division are going through equal struggles.

The Blue Wahoos (10-11 in second half) remain only a game behind in the division where only first-half winner Biloxi has a winning record.

"I think we are playing good baseball overall," Blankenhorn said. "It's just a couple tough losses, but what are you going to do, it's baseball. We know we're a good team. I don't think anyone is in a panic mode yet."

After several rain bands from Tropical Storm Barry passed through the ballpark Thursday morning, the afternoon broke into sunshine and it became a comfortable evening, aside from the wind.

The steady gusts blowing from the Gulf created some challenging fly ball situations, carrying some into foul territory and into the seats.

The wind robbed Blankenhorn of what likely would have been a pair of home runs. His first blasted turned into a long single, his second one became a double off the wall.

"I'm still going up with the same approach, crushed when it gets caught up in the air," he said. "But it is what it is. For the most part, I am still trying to hit line drives."

Montgomery took advantage of eight walks and twice reaching on hit batters to help manufacture runs.

After a quick first inning for both teams, the Biscuits got a run in the second inning when Kevin Padlo led off getting hit by Blue Wahoos starter Bryan Sammons, who had his shortest start in a month.

Padlo was moved over on a sacrifice bunt, took third on a fly out, then scored on Miles Mastrobuoni's two-out, bloop single.

In the third inning, Thomas Milone led off with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice, then to third on a groundout and scored on a double steal.

In the fourth inning, Lucious Fox was hit by a Sammons pitch, then scored when Mastrobuoni tripled. Rene Pinto followed with a double to make it a 4-1 game. It was 5-2 afer five innings and remained that way until the Biscuits scored four runs in the ninth off relievers Alex Phillips and Hector Lujan.

The Blue Wahoos got their runs when Gore led off the third inning with a single, moved over on Blankenhorn's long single to right field and scored on Alex Kirilloff's ground out.

In the fifth, Arron Whitefield reached on an two-base throwing error, moved to third on a flyout and scored on Blankenhorn's RBI ground out.

But that became the only offense. The Blue Wahoos managed seven hits in the game, but only four off starter Josh Fleming, who pitched seven complete innings to get the win.

The two teams will play again Friday night on a Giveaway Friday where the first 2,000 fans, ages 21-up will receive a poker chip valued at $10 to use at Wind Creek Casino in Atmore, Ala., the game's sponsor.

BALLPARK MEMORIES

Terry Williams, the Blue Wahoos' 67-year-old batboy, believed to be the oldest in professional baseball, was honored Thursday by tossing out the first pitch. He threw a great pitch and received loud applause.

He was the Southern League's 2018 Batboy of the Year. He has been with the Blue Wahoos since the team's inception, beginning with the inaugural 2012 season working as an usher. He's been a batboy since the 2014 season.

The game Thursday was designated as WWE Night. One of the pro wrestling organization's stars, Roman Reigns, a Pensacola native and former Escambia High and Georgia Tech football player as Joe Anoa'I, gave a video message prior to the game.

The WWE is coming to Pensacola on July 21 for its Summerslam Heatwave Tour at the Pensacola Bay Center.

Also honored was Minnesota native Charles Marohn, founder and president of Strong Towns, which named Pensacola as its 2019 winner for America's Strongest Town. Marohn was guest of team owner Quint Studer and threw out a first pitch.

The National Anthem was performed by Alexa Yanez, who was discovered during the Pensacola's Got Talent competition in March.





Images from this story

Pensacola Blue Wahoos second baseman Travis Blankenhorn
Pensacola Blue Wahoos second baseman Travis Blankenhorn

Pensacola Blue Wahoos pitcher Bryan Sammons
Pensacola Blue Wahoos pitcher Bryan Sammons

 

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The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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