If there is one thing that continues to be evident during this 2016 season for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos it’s that they are never out of a game.
Even on a muggy Tuesday night when rain delayed the start for a little over 90 minutes and the offense struggled to get going early, the Blue Wahoos prevailed with a 3-2 win over rival Mobile.
Phillip Ervin provided the biggest jolt, his 400-foot solo home run over the wall in centerfield in the eighth inning snapping a 2-2 tie. It was his third hit of the night and his second RBI. He also scored twice.
“He has a great combination of power and speed,” Pensacola manager Pat Kelly said. “He has great tools. That’s why he was a first-round draft choice.”
Ervin has a total of 12 homers and has knocked in 39 runs. He’s hitting .241 and has also stolen 33 bases. One of his biggest improvements during this second half of the Southern League season is patience.
“He’s seeing the ball well and is a lot more patient,” Kelly said. “He has a tendency to get himself out, but when he’s patient, he gets a good pitch to hit and drives it.”
Ervin certainly drove the last pitch he faced Tuesday, marking the first time in 10 days the Blue Wahoos have hit a home run. His base hit into the outfield in the sixth cut Mobile’s lead to 2-1.
Moments later, Jeff Gelalich smacked a double down the third-base line to drive in Sebastian Elizalde, who reached on a base hit, extending his hitting streak to nine games. The RBI tied the score at 2-2.
“It seemed like we were not really in it, but it’s only 1-0 and then 2-0, and all of a sudden we put a couple of hits together,” Kelly said. “When you put the ball in play, you have a chance.”
A lot of credit goes to Jackson Stephens as well. He worked five innings and allowed only one run while striking out four. He escaped a bases-loaded jam twice, part of a four-inning stretch where Mobile had runners in scoring position.
“It was a weird game. We couldn’t get that third out, whether it was a walk or a defensive mistake behind him,” Kelly said. “But he battled and kept us in the game. It could have gotten ugly. He gave us a chance to win.”
And with the win, Pensacola remains in contention for the second-half South Division title. Already assured of a playoff spot because they won the first half crown, the Blue Wahoos are 3.5 games behind Mississippi with a 30-27 second-half record. The M-Braves are 33-23.
“We’re playing really well and we want to peak at the right time for the playoffs,” Kelly said. “We’re starting to swing the bats and we’ve always played good defense and pitched well. We’re hitting on all cylinders now.”
Read more in the Aug. 25 edition of Navarre Press or subscribe online here.