JACKSON, Tenn., - The last time Kelly Mella earned a W came in a Triple-A game with the Louisville Bats on Sept. 5 when he pitched seven innings, gave up one run and struck out six batters.
Mella's first win in Double-A for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos came Tuesday in his eighth start. The right-hander's five scoreless innings and Aristides Aquino's third homer in six games propelled Pensacola to a, 5-2, victory over the Jackson Generals at The Ballpark at Jackson.
The series is now tied at 2-2. Pensacola improved its record to 21-18 and remains tied for first with the Mississippi Braves in the Southern League South Division. Jackson dropped to 22-16 and fell into second place in the North Division.
The 23-year-old Mella, the Cincinnati Reds No. 19 ranked prospect, allowed just three hits, walked three and struck out four. He joins the rest of the rotation in the win column with a 1-3 record and 3.92 ERA.
Mella struck out the side in the third inning. He also benefited from a double play in the first inning, Pensacola left fielder Gabriel Guerrero throwing Jackson left fielder Rudy Flores out at second base trying to stretch a single in the fourth inning, and catcher Joe Hudson throwing out center fielder Reyes trying to steal second base to end the fourth inning.
Pensacola also got a big contribution from right fielder Aristides Aquino who went 2-5. His single to right field drove in third baseman Josh VanMeter and put the Blue Wahoos up, 2-0, in the first inning. VanMeter had doubled in second baseman Alex Blandino for the first run of the inning.
Aquino came through in the fifth inning when he smashed a two-run homer to left center field that also scored first baseman Angelo Gumbs, giving Pensacola a, 5-0, lead. Gumbs had doubled in VanMeter to make the score, 3-0.
Aquino, who won the Reds' Minor League Player of the Year Award last season with the High-A Daytona Tortugas, now has three homers in his last six games and is tied with center fielder Brian O'Grady for the team lead with five homers. He also is showing flashes of coming out of his slump, going 8-25 in his last six games (.320).
Blandino finished the game 2-4 with two doubles and a run scored for Pensacola. VanMeter also had a notable game at the plate, going 1-2 with his ninth double of the season, three walks, a run scored and one RBI.
A trio of relievers finished up the game for Mella and preserved his victory. Ariel Hernandez pitched two innings and struck out four. Blue Wahoos closer Jimmy Herget earned his 10th save, which is tied for the Southern League lead, and struck out two hitters. The 23-year-old now has fanned 32 hitters in 18 innings in his first season in Double-A.
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