Looking for a season-high fourth consecutive victory, the Huntsville Stars fell on the short side of a back-and-forth affair with the Pensacola BlueWahoos by a score of 7-5 on Sunday at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium.
Unlike the first three games of the season, it was the Stars that faced an early deficit. Against starting pitcher Ariel Pena in the first inning, the BlueWahoos used a one-out walk and single by third basemen Mike Costanzo and outfielder Yorman Rodriguez respectively to their advantage. On batter after a RBI single by outfielder Donald Lutz, a RBI groundout from catcher Tucker Barnhart put Pensacola up by two.
After the Stars cut their deficit in half in the top of the fifth inning on a sacrifice fly by second basemen Nick Shaw, Pensacola duplicated that output in the bottom of the frame on another run-scoring groundout by Barnhart to make the score 3-1.
One inning later, the Stars put together an offensive surge much like they did the entire previous night. To leadoff the frame, first basemen Jason Rogers lofted a solo homer off of BlueWahoos starter Josh Smith well over the left-field wall to cut the Pensacola lead to 3-2. For Rogers, the homer was his fourth in his last two games and now gives him 14 on the season, tying him for the team-high with outfielder Brock Kjeldgaard.
Fortunately for Huntsville, they were not nearly done offensively in the sixth inning. After a double from third basemen Mike Walker and walk by Kjeldgaard, BlueWahoos reliever Drew Hayes (W, 3-2) served up a three-run homer to shortstop Hector Gomez that put the Stars on top 5-3. The homer for Gomez was his first in 247 at-bats this season.
However, that Stars lead would not last for long. With reliever Arcenio Leon (L, 1-6) in the seventh inning, a leadoff walk by outfielder Corey Wimberly and a two-run homer from Costanzo tied up the ballgame before Leon could record the out. Following another walk from Leon and a pitching change by the Stars, a RBI triple from Lutz off of righty Greg Holle put Pensacola up for good. The BlueWahoos tacked on an insurance run one batter later on a sacrifice fly by Barnhart.
To nail down the victory for Pensacola, righty Trevor Bell sent down the Stars scoreless in the ninth for his sixth save of the season.
On offense, the Stars spread out seven hits between six players, as Walker was the only player with a multi-hit game.
The loss for the Stars snaps their winning-streak at three games, as they have been unable to reach four consecutive wins on five separate occasions this season.
On Monday, the Stars will wrap up a five-game series at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium against the Pensacola BlueWahoos. Huntsville will send RHP Andy Moye (4-10, 4.37 ERA) to the bump while Pensacola will counter with RHP Shaun Ellis (3-1, 3.55 ERA). First pitch is at 7:00 PM.
For more information on the Huntsville Stars, visit huntsvillestars.com or call (256) 882-2562.