With the win the Barons now own a 9-6 mark in the second half, while the Fish also sport a 9-6 record since the All-Star Break after the loss but remain in a tie for first in the Southern League's South Division with Montgomery. It was the 28th capacity crowd in Pensacola's inaugural season, while the club also welcomed before the game the 200,000th fan to enter the ballpark. In 41 home openings, the Fish have hosted a total of 200,270 fans in 2012.
Both teams got on the board with a single tally in the first, with Martinez exiting the yard with a homer to left for the Barons, his fourth of the year. Pensacola answered with a score of their own in the bottom half of the inning when CF Ryan LaMarre drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a single, before taking advantage of a Birmingham error to even the contest at 1-1.
The Barons however, would go ahead in the third thanks to Saladino's shot to left for his fourth of the season and move ahead 3-1 three innings later when Wilkins blasted his team-leading 12th longball to left. Blue Wahoos OF Yordanys Perez then narrowed the margin to one in the bottom of the frame with a solo big fly to deep center field just to the right of the batter's eye, but Birmingham pulled away with a three-run ninth.
3B Erik Morrison was hit by a pitch to start the rally and subsequently scored on C Luis Sierra's RBI triple, before 2B Dan Wagner drove Sierra home with a run-scoring single to left. CF Jared Mitchell brought home the final tally of the evening with an RBI double to left to bring home Wagner and end the scoring.
Blue Wahoos starter J.C. Sulbaran (6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 SO) suffered the loss to fall to 6-6 after allowing three earned runs on six hits in six innings, while Birmingham RHP Matt Heidenreich (8.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO) earned the victory in his Double-A debut and yielded two runs, one of which was earned, on six hits in eight frames. Reliever Ryan Kussmaul (1.0 IP, 1 SO) fired a scoreless ninth frame in a non-save situation.
Saladino (2-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI) and Morrison (2-3, 1 R) each collected a pair of base knocks for the Barons in the winning effort, while Perez (2-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI) was the lone Pensacola hitter to record a multi-hit effort. Perez has gotten off to a nice start in the second half, batting .343 (11-32) in his eight games since the Southern League All-Star Break.
With the series even at one, the two teams will face off in a rubber match Friday night to decide the series, with the Fish scheduled to give the nod to RHP Tim Crabbe, while Birmingham is expected to counter with RHP Cameron Bayne. First pitch is set for 7:00pm at the bayfront stadium.
Fans will want to arrive early to the ballpark, with the first 2,000 fans to enter the gates receiving a Blue Wahoos umbrella courtesy of Fisher Brown Bottrell, as part of Fan Appreciation Friday. Gates open at 5:30 pm. On Saturday night, former Alabama running back and third overall draft pick Trent Richardson will be on hand to throw out a first pitch.
Those not able to attend can catch the rubber match online on MiLB.TV, or on 1450 AM ESPN Pensacola, the flagship station for Blue Wahoos baseball. The pre-game show begins approximately 15 minutes before first pitch.