Caught in the grip of a five-game losing streak and having lost nine of their last 10 overall, the Blue Wahoo came to life in a 6-2 victory over the Birmingham Barons in front of a crowd of 3,467 Monday night at Blue Wahoos Stadium.
Joe Hudson, mired in his own personal struggles – he entered the night 5-for-29 at the plate – was the hero, driving in three runs, including two off a double to center in the fifth inning that pushed Pensacola in front 3-1.
It was arguably the best night of the year for the 2012 sixth-round pick of the Cincinnati Reds. The starting catcher credits his success to a change to his walkup song. It’s now Believer by Imagine Dragons.
“I was listening to the song in the car today and feeling it and figured what do I have to lose? Baseball is a really odd game,” Hudson said. “Something as simple as changing a walk-up song gets you thinking in a different way.”
Hudson wasn’t the only who thrived for a Blue Wahoos team that managed only 10 runs in their last five games and allowed five or more three times.
Tyler Goeddel, who played in 92 games with the Philadelphia Phillies a year ago and was picked up off waivers by the Reds early last month, came through with three hits. His two-run hit in the fifth extended gave the Blue Wahoos a 6-1 lead. Moments earlier, Alex Blandino slid across home plate on a wild pitch.
Pensacola manager Pat Kelly said his team got back to playing the style of baseball that helped it win 12 of its first 15 games before losing 12 of 15.
“They were putting a lot of pressure on themselves,” Kelly said. “They were trying too hard.”
Despite the struggles, Pensacola is still in first place in the Southern League South Division with a 16-15 record.
“When you start off the way we did, you can absorb a streak like we went through. I’ve always said baseball is a .500 game. We proved it.”
Pensacola seemed to play with less pressure against the Barons, who came in as the last-place team in the South Division.
The Blue Wahoos cranked out 11 hits and Tyler Mahle was brilliant again as he improved to 5-0. The ace of the pitching staff gave up two runs on five hits and struck out seven in six innings.
“We needed this win and who better than Tyler to be on the mound. He’s been our guy all year,” Hudson said.
Read more about the Pensacola Blue Wahoos in the May 11 issue of the Navarre Press. Subscribe online at navarrepress.com for as little as $38 per year.