Blue Wahoos rough up Shuckers

Chad Wallach been struggling offensively. In last week’s series against Birmingham, he managed only hits and entered Wednesday’s game against Biloxi with six hits in all.

It’s safe to say he is no longer in a slump. Wallach belted a two-run home run in the second inning and added two more hits to his stat line by the time night was done in Pensacola’s 8-3 Southern League win over the Shuckers at Blue Wahoos Stadium.

“It felt good because I’ve been struggling a bit,” Wallach said. “It was nice to get that home run.”

Wallach’s two-run blast over the wall in left field cut Biloxi’s advantage to 3-2 and gave starting pitcher Sal Romano confidence after he struggled through a rough first inning where he gave up three runs.

Romano dominated the final five innings of his start, not allowing a run during that stretch while recording six of his eight strikeouts in that time. The win was his first at the Double-A level after going 0-4 in seven starts last year.

“I thought a big key was Wallach’s home run,” manager Pat Kelly said. “He made it a one-run game and Sal did a nice job of settling down and throwing strikes.”

Pensacola (14-11), which has scored three or more runs 18 times, did most of its damage in the fifth.

Trailing 3-2, the Blue Wahoos finally cracked Shuckers starterAdrian Houser, who had struck out nine in the first four innings.

Beau Amaral’s base hit with the bases loaded tied the game and Tony Renda’s run-scoring hit gave Pensacola the lead for good.

The biggest hit of the inning came off the bat of Phillip Ervin, the talented Cincinnati Reds prospect who showed once again why he seems destined to play Major League Baseball. Ervin smashed the ball past a diving outfielder in right and nearly turned the triple into an inside the park grand slam.

The crowd of 3,611 roared as three runs came home and Ervin, who has tremendous speed, stopped safely at third. Ervin scored moments later when the catcher dropped the ball while attempting to make the tag at the plate.

Biloxi (17-8) is 2.5 games ahead of Pensacola in the standings and has won four of the six meetings. But at least for one night, the Blue Wahoos turned the tables on their South division rival.

“They have a tendency to have big innings against us,” Kelly said. “It was nice to turn it on them a little bit. We are swinging the bats well.”

Read more about the Blue Wahoos in the May 12 edition of Navarre Press or subscribe online here.

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