The offense came to life, the pitching was nearly perfect and the scoreboard brought a smile to the crowd of 3,323 Tuesday night at Blue Wahoos Stadium as Pensacola blanked Biloxi 9-0.
With Sal Romano delivering the best performance of his Double-A career, throwing seven shutout innings and striking out nine, and the Pensacola lineup putting five runs on the board in the first inning alone, the Blue Wahoos shut out an opponent for the sixth time this season.
The Southern League victory, fueled by a 13-hit effort, comes on the heels of a 3-1 loss to the Shuckers Monday.
“We had really good at-bats,” said Pensacola manager Pat Kelly. “Their guy (Jorge Ortega) was throwing a lot of off-speed stuff but we did a good job of fighting it off.”
On the flip side, Romano (2-10) gave the Shuckers little to take advantage off.
Entering the night in search of his first win since May 4, the hard-throwing and highly rated Cincinnati Reds prospect struck out the side in the opening inning and rolled from there, allowing three hits and walking one en route to his second win.
“I’ve been battling since my last win and wanted to come out strong in the second half of the season,” Romano said. “I credit the offense for getting out to an early lead. It’s always nice to pitch with a cushion. I was able to attack hitters and get them out.”
Romano credits his approach to the game for his success, arriving at the stadium relaxed and ready. He even changed his walk-up music changed to Lights Come On by country music star Jason Aldean.
Something clicked without a doubt and it might be lights out going forward for batters facing Romano.
“Jeff Gelalich told me about the song and I listened to it a couple of times and said I can ‘dig that,’” Romano said. I love country music. A lot of people don’t think I do. It worked for me.”
Sebastian Elizalde gave the Blue Wahoos (9-10) a 2-0 lead when he drove a triple to left-center field and a base hit by Taylor Sparks extended the lead to 3-0.
Joe Hudson smashed the ball to center to stretch the advantage to five runs. Phillip Ervin provided a shot of excitement in the seventh when he belted a double to left to knock in three more runs and deflate any hopes the Shuckers (6-13) had of a rally.
“In the second through the sixth (innings) I was wondering if we were going to score again. You hate getting that five spot and not adding to it,” Kelly said. “The seventh was really big. It was nice to have the added cushion.”