Blue Wahoos extend win streak to three

By Brian Lester

brian@navarrepress.com

Wandy Peralta turned in one of his best pitching performances of the season and the Pensacola Blue Wahoos cashed in on it.

They used the momentum of Peralta’s effort and a solid offensive attack to earn a 5-1 Southern League win over the Tennessee Smokies in front of a sellout crowd Saturday night at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium.

Peralta pitched a season-high seven innings and allowed one run on four hits while striking out five en route to his second win. His effort also helped the Blue Wahoos (11-19) extend their win streak to three games.

“I’ve been working a lot in the bullpen with the pitching coach and I’m starting to aim better,” Peralta said through catcher Yovan Gonzalez, who translated for Peralta in a post-game interview. “I was feeling strong and was able to do a good job of putting the ball over the plate.”

One of the keys to Peralta’s success was the fact that he was able to work with an early lead, something that hasn’t happened often this season for the pitching staff.

“He could relax and not feel like the game was on the line right away,” Blue Wahoos manager Pat Kelly said. “Usually we are in situations where there is no margin for error. It enabled Peralta to relax and have a good game.”

Kyle Waldrop drilled a triple to right in the first inning, pushing two runs across, and the Blue Wahoos never looked back on a night when they cranked out nine hits to end the six-game series on a high note.

“He could relax and not feel like the game was on the line right away,” Blue Wahoos manager Pat Kelly said. “Usually we are in situations where there is no margin for error. It enabled Peralta to relax and have a good game.”

Beau Amaral extended the lead to 3-0 in the second when he drove in a run with a double. It was one of two hits on the night for the Blue Wahoo’s lead-off man.

Jesse Winker, Waldrop and Gonzalez all racked up two hits as well. Gonzalez, coming off the disabled list, had the biggest hit as he crushed a home run over the wall in left for a 4-1 advantage in the seventh.

Gonzalez was asked after the game if he felt any pain as he swung the bat hard on a hit that sent the energized crowd of 5,038 into a frenzy.

“Nope. But the ball probably did,” Gonzalez said. “He was throwing hard and I was sitting on (his fastball). I put a good swing on it and hit the ball well.”

The final run was tacked onto the scoreboard in the eighth when Ray Chang, batting with the bases loaded, hit a sacrifice fly to right for a 5-1 advantage.

“We’re starting to get the breaks,” Kelly said. “The balls that were getting caught are now finding holes. It’s nice to see the players playing with confidence. And defensively, we are really playing great.”

The Blue Wahoos won four of six against the Smokies, who entered the week leading the North Division. Tennessee is now in second. Pensacola remains in last in the South.

But that could change in the near future as momentum has been on the Blue Wahoos’ side so far in May.

“This is what our team is capable of doing,” Kelly said. “Every series, we have seen improvement. We’re on a good roll right now.”

For more on the Blue Wahoos, check out Thursday’s edition of The Navarre Press. You can read the paper online at navarrepress.com or subscribe here.

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