Kyle Skipworth found himself in the situation every player dreams about Monday night.
A runner on, one out, and a one-run deficit in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos catcher was in position to hit a walk-off home run against the Montgomery Biscuits.
“As a kid, it’s usually you are down three and the bases are loaded, but anytime you are in a game like that, you want to do something,” Skipworth said. “As ironic as it is, that was the last thought going through my head.”
Well, at least after the first pitch it was his last thought.
“On the 1-0 swing where I nearly fell over, I was trying to make something like that happen,” Skipworth said. “But once he had two strikes against me, it was a battle. He had good zip on his fastball and elevated it enough to where I got just enough of it.”
Skipworth got more than enough of the baseball, tagging it over the wall in center field to lift Pensacola to a 4-3 win in front of a crowd of 3,932 at Blue Wahoos Stadium. His teammates mobbed him as he crossed home plate.
It’s the fourth time in the last five games the Blue Wahoos (37-26), a game up on Biloxi in the South Division, have won in the last at-bat.
“I don’t think there is any better feeling,” Skipworth said.
Pensacola manager Pat Kelly wasn’t sure the low-hit ball was going to leave the park, expecting it to hit the wall. He also didn’t expect Skipworth to deliver the game-winner.
“I really thought (Alex) Blandino was going to win it. Obviously, Skipworth didn’t let him,” Kelly said.
Blandino had tied the game in the seventh with a two-run shot to left before the Biscuits took the lead back in the eighth.
Down 3-2, the Blue Wahoos never flinched, showing the same determination that has put them in a position to win the first-half division crown and clinch a Southern League playoff berth.
Kelly was impressed with the effort Skipworth put forth in the heroic at-bat.
“He chased pitches early but didn’t let it affect him,” Kelly said. “Then he took it to two strikes and was able to get a ball and drive it. He is so strong when he hits those balls.”
Rookie Davis battled through back pain to give the Blue Wahoos five good innings. He gave up two hits, struck out three and retired the final seven batters he faced. The only run allowed came off a throwing error by Skipworth. Carlos Gonzalez (4-1) earned the win in 1 1/3 innings.
Pensacola managed only three hits in the first six innings, including two by Tony Renda, before tallying four hits in the final three frames.
“They don’t ever feel like they are out of a ball game,” Kelly said. “We’re down 2-0 on a flat night and the next thing you know, boom, it’s a 2-2 game and we’re back in it.”
Read more about the Blue Wahoos in the June 16 edition of Navarre Press or subscribe online here.