Austin Ross made his performance against Biloxi look almost effortless Monday night, locking into a zone and never leaving it.
Locked into a zone, he struck out a career-high nine and helped the Pensacola Blue Wahoos snap a four-game losing streak with a 3-1 win in front of a crowd of 3,459 at Blue Wahoos Stadium.
The victory was the third of the year for Ross, who went seven innings and did not allow a run. He gave up three hits and walked two, stretching his record to 3-0 and slimming his ERA down to 0.79.
“He threw some extra pitches the first couple of innings that kept him from going his usual eight, but he gave us seven outstanding innings,” Pensacola manager Pat Kelly said.
Execution was his ticket to success on a night when Pensacola avoided being swept in a series for the first time in four years.
“Like I’ve said before, it’s all about executing and making good pitches, and I did that again tonight,” Ross said. “It comes down to making quality pitches. If you make a good number of those, it works out favorably for you.”
Ross is in his first year in the Cincinnati Reds organization after spending the last seven with the Milwaukee Brewers. He never made it past Triple-A, which is a little surprising considering the way he is pitching now. He’s off to his best start since 2014 when he started 5-0. That was also his last year as a starter.
“I’m excited about the opportunity,” Ross said. “I’ve always had a starter mentality, even as a reliever.”
Pensacola came into the night desperate for a win, having lost seven of its last eight, and Aristedes Aquino helped get the Blue Wahoos back on track with a second-inning home run to center that made the score 1-0. It was the second homer of the season for a player nicknamed The Punisher.
“Aquino has a good swing,” Kelly said. “That ball got out of here quickly.”
Gabriel Guerrero’s sacrifice fly pushed the lead to 2-0 in the sixth and Josh VanMeter’s sac fly in the eighth capped the scoring. Biloxi (11-14) scored its only run in the top of the eighth.
With the win, Pensacola improves to 15-10 and remains in first place in the South Division of the Southern League. It leads Biloxi by four games. The Blue Wahoos
“We had lost seven of eight, but there was a time when we’d be excited about a 14-10 month (in April). Now, we’re disappointed. But it’s a great sign. You hate to get swept in a series. It was a good win.”
Read more about the Pensacola Blue Wahoos in the May 4 edition of the Navarre Press. Subscribe online at navarrepress.com for as little as $38 per year.