By Brian Lester
Hits were tough to come by for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos Saturday night.
So tough in fact that it wasn’t until the seventh inning that Pensacola finally tallied one as Jesse Winker came through with a triple. He came home on a sacrifice fly by Kyle Waldrop.
The excitement ended there in a 5-1 Southern League loss to the Jacksonville Suns at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium.
A lot of the credit goes to Matt Tomshaw, who didn’t allow a hit in his six innings of work. His stellar effort, which included two strikeouts, left Pensacola helpless at the plate.
“Tomshaw pitched a heck of a game,” Winker said. “That’s the way it goes sometimes.”
The loss was the fifth of the month for Pensacola, which is now 1-5 in June and 22-32 overall.
“Tomshaw is a spot starter and threw really well,” Blue Wahoos manager Pat Kelly said. “He changed speeds and worked both sides of the plate. When we did hit the ball, we hit it right at somebody.”
Until the seventh, the Blue Wahoos managed to put only two runners on base against the Suns, who improved to 23-32. Cam Maron walked in the third and Ryan Wright beat out a throw to first thanks to an error.
Matt Juengel broke a scoreless tie in the fourth with a base hit. His solo home run over the light pole in left in the ninth extended the Suns’ lead to 4-1.
Winker provided a glimmer of hope for the Blue Wahoos in the seventh, bringing the sellout crowd of 5,038 to life when he ripped the ball into the corner of the wall in right. The No. 2 prospect of the Cincinnati Reds came into the night batting .400 in his last five games. His hit streak now stands at six games.
“I’ve worked hard all year,” Winker said. “It’s about pitch selection and sticking to my approach. The balls seem to be falling right now.”
Winker said he never hesitated when it came to going for three bases. It proved to be a great move as Waldrop brought him home moments later and sliced the Suns’ lead to 3-1.
“I saw the ball got stuck in the pad and saw him (the rightfielder) reach in. It’s not easy to pull it out, take a step and throw a guy out,” Winker said. “Waldrop had a great at-bat to drive me in. It gave us a shot to come back.”
But a rally wasn’t in the cards. The Blue Wahoos came up empty in the final two innings.
Wandy Peralta started for Pensacola and lasted six innings. He didn’t give up a hit in the first two innings and managed to allow only run in the fourth despite getting into a bases-loaded jam.
Despite that, Kelly was happy with Peralta’s effort.
“I liked what I saw. He handled his emotions really well,” Kelly said. “I was pleased with him giving us six innings on three days rest. His stuff was very good.”
Although the month hasn’t gone well so far, Winker is confident the Blue Wahoos will get back on track.
“We’ve had a rough stretch with just luck,” Winker said. “We’ve played good ball as a team and things will fall our way again. It’s a long year. We’re a good team. We’ll figure it out.”