Blue Wahoos come up short in extra innings

By Brian Lester

Tim Adleman said he felt like he was throwing well Sunday against the Mississippi Braves.

His stat line supports the statement.

Adleman had a no-hitter going through three innings and gave up one run on four hits while striking out five in seven innings of work.

His performance was impressive.  It just wasn’t enough to translate into a victory on a day when the Pensacola Blue Wahoos forced extra innings before falling 3-2 to the Braves in a Southern League South Division battle at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium.

“I felt pretty good for the most part,” Adleman said. “In a couple of starts this season, I felt out of sync and was unable to get into a rhythm. Today, I felt the opposite. I got them swinging a lot and putting balls in play, which helped me get quick outs and settle in quicker than I had in past starts.”

The Blue Wahoos (15-22) trailed 1-0 when Adleman left the game. His only mistake was the run-scoring double he allowed to Rio Ruiz in the fifth inning that broke a scoreless tie.

Getting that run back proved to be a difficult. Pensacola managed only two hits through the first six innings and finished with five as it dropped its second consecutive game.

“Our guys have been swinging well recently, which is different than it was a month ago,” Adleman said. “On the mound, game to game, I still take the same approach. I want to limit the (opponent) as much as possible and give us a chance at the middle or end to be within a swing or two of getting the win.”

Coming off a 1-0 loss a night earlier, the Blue Wahoos were within a couple of swings of a victory again on Sunday.

Down 2-0 heading into the ninth, Kyle Skipworth ripped a double to center and Ray Chang drew a walk. Juan Silva then came through with a clutch hit as he smacked a hit down the first-base line, driving in Skipworth and bringing the crowd of 5,038 to life.

The fans roared again moments later when Marquez Smith belted the ball deep to left. The ball was caught but the sacrifice fly evened the score at 2-2.

Mallex Smith knocked in the game-winning run for the Braves (20-16) in the 10th with a big hit to right. All three Blue Wahoos batters struck out in their half of the 10th.

“We were able to tie it in the ninth, which was great,” Blue Wahoos manager Pat Kelly said. “We were down a run in the 10th and had a chance, but we just didn’t do anything with it.”

Andrew Robinson earned the win and Tyler Jones picked up the save with dominating performance in the 10th. Tyrell Jenkins started for the Braves but was nearly knocked out of the game in the third when Ryan Wright smashed a line drive directly at him.

Jenkins blocked the ball with his hand, preventing what could have been a more serious injury. He even stayed in the game and gave up three hits in seven innings. He struck out three.

“When you take the ball off the hand like that, you usually stiffen up,” Kelly said. “But he stayed in there and kept throwing quality pitches.”

Opportunities were few and far between for the Blue Wahoos but they nearly tied the game at 1-1 in the seventh. Cam Maron crushed a double to the wall and Chang started running for home. He was caught in a run down and tagged out as he didn’t see Kelly signaling for him to hold at third.

“I think I might have been a little late on the stop sign,” Kelly said. “He was chugging in there good. Unfortunately, he was a little too far down the line and got caught. It’s a tough play because you have to wait for the ball to come off the wall and it happened to come to the (outfielder) cleanly. And then you realize that he is only 220 feet from home plate. This is professional baseball. Guys can make that throw.”

Kyle Waldrop made a stellar throw from the outfield in the ninth to prevent the Braves from extending their lead, throwing out Loman at home plate to end the inning.

That play helped set the stage for the comeback.

While the day ended in defeat, Adleman took another step forward. He is 1-3 in seven starts and has allowed just one run in his last three outings. His ERA stands at 1.70.

“I think consistency with my off-speed pitches has made a big difference,” Adleman said. “That is what allows you to get through a lineup two or three times. You have to be able to show something different, especially with the talent you face at this level, and that is what has helped me keep guys at bay.”

Kelly said the fact that the offense has been more consistent lately has proven beneficial. The Blue Wahoos have scored three or more runs in eight of their last 10 games. They are 7-3 during the stretch.

“Our bats are a lot better now. Guys are more concerned with quality at-bats,” Kelly said. “We are also playing good defense. We are giving pitchers a chance to win. They don’t go out there feeling like they have to make perfect pitches every time.”

Read more about the Blue Wahoos in Thursday’s edition of the Navarre Press. Pick up your copy of the print edition or subscribe here.

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