Jeffers Comes up Big in the 10th
Nothing had gone right at the plate all night for the Blue Wahoos' Ryan Jeffers.
One big swing, however, changed everything.
After striking out in three prior at-bats Tuesday night, including an eighth inning opportunity to break a scoreless game, Jeffers blasted a two-strike pitch over the left field wall for a 2-run homer in the 10th inning, lifting the Blue Wahoos to a comeback 4-2 victory against the Mississippi Braves at Trustmark Park in Pearl, Miss.
The Blue Wahoos were headed toward a deflating loss in the ninth inning when suddenly creating a defining win.
Coupled with the Biloxi Shuckers' fourth consecutive loss Tuesday, an 8-1 defeat at Montgomery, the Blue Wahoos are now just three games behind the Shuckers in the second-half division race. The Wahoos are even more solid in a wild-card playoff spot if Biloxi holds on to first place.
So much changed quickly.
The M-Braves had scored two runs with two outs in the bottom of the eighth against Alex Phillips to take a 2-0 lead. After being shut out for eight innings by M-Braves starter Phil Pfeifer, who struck out nine, the Blue Wahoos broke through against reliever Thomas Burrows.
Caleb Hamilton walked to lead off the ninth. Mark Contreras followed with a triple into the right field corner to score Hamilton. Jimmy Kerrigan launched the first pitch he saw into deep center field to easily score Contreras on the sacrifice fly.
Burrows retired the next two batters to keep the game tied. Phillips was much sharper in the ninth, retiring the M-Braves in order to force extra innings.
In the 10th, the Blue Wahoos' Royce Lewis was placed on second in the extra-inning format. Alex Kirilloff hit a fielder's choice groundout that took out Lewis as lead runner at third.
On a 2-2 pitch, Jeffers delivered his fourth homer since joining the Blue Wahoos on July 25 from the Fort Myers Miracle.
In the bottom of the 10th, the Blue Wahoos' Andrew Vasquez, the fifth pitcher they used, recorded his second save after allowing only a two-out walk. It was a far different outcome than his past outing when he struggled in relief (3 walks, hit batter) of a then-combined perfect game in progress against Chattanooga.
The win became the Blue Wahoos 70th of the season, which is only the third time in franchise history they won this many games in a regular season. The Blue Wahoos (70-57 overall, 32-25 2nd half) set a franchise record with an 81-59 overall record in 2016 and were 74-66 in 2017 when they won the Southern League co-championship.
With 12 regular-season games remaining, this team is on track to be the second-winningest in club history. The team is 13 games above .500 for the first time all season.
Tuesday night, both teams' pitchers put up zeroes for seven consecutive innings. Blue Wahoos used an "opener," reliever Marcos Diplan, who worked the first two innings, allowing one hit, striking out four and walking one. He was followed the next three innings by Edwar Colina, who pitched three innings, allowed one hit, one walk and struck out three.
Jonathan Cheshire, a closer in some games, pitched the sixth and seventh innings and did not allow a hit or walk. He struck out two. Phillips pitched two innings, allowing three hits, two runs, no walks.
The Blue Wahoos finished with nine hits. Jeffers went 2-for-5 and Kerrigan went 2-for-3.
The teams will play a matinee, 1 p.m. game Wednesday before finishing out the series with a 6:35 p.m. game Thursday.
Images from this story
Pensacola Blue Wahoos catcher Ryan Jeffers
Pensacola Blue Wahoos catcher Ryan Jeffers rounds the bases after his 10th-inning homer
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Southern League Stories from August 21, 2019
- Hot Start Helps BayBears Win Third Straight Game - Mobile BayBears
- Early Lead Slips as Shuckers Fall Again in Montgomery - Biloxi Shuckers
- Smokies Swept in Wednesday's Double-Header - Tennessee Smokies
- Lookouts Lose Game Four Early - Chattanooga Lookouts
- Biscuits Slip Past Shuckers, 6-5 - Montgomery Biscuits
- Big Bats, Ober Lead Blue Wahoos to 8-2 Victory - Pensacola Blue Wahoos
- Generals Gameday: August 21 vs. Tennessee (DH) - Jackson Generals
- Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp: Game Notes, August 21 at Birmingham - Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp
- Jeffers Comes up Big in the 10th - Pensacola Blue Wahoos
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