PENSACOLA, Fla., - The Pensacola Blue Wahoos' much maligned offense achieved a rare feat Saturday -- it crushed three home runs for four runs in the sixth inning to tie the Mobile BayBears, 7-7.
It is particularly unusual since even with the Blue Wahoos four home run outburst Saturday, they rank ninth out of 10 teams in the Southern League with 69 total this season.
But for the second straight game, Mobile rallied in the ninth when leadoff batter Brennon Lund drilled a solo shot to right field that bounced off the column below the scoreboard for an 8-7 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 5,038 at Blue Wahoos Stadium.
Pensacola has slipped into a tailspin, losing four straight games and eight of its last nine. Mobile clinched the five-game series, 3-0, and lead their rival Blue Wahoos 10-8 in games this season.
Trailing Mobile, 7-3, Blue Wahoos left fielder Josh VanMeter sparked the sixth inning home run trots. The 22-year-old smacked a line drive two-run home run into the Hill-Kelly Hill in right field with third baseman Nick Senzel on base and no outs pulling Pensacola within, 7-5.
Pensacola right fielder Aristides Aquino launched the second bomb of the inning to left center field with one out for his team-leading 13th homer to make it a one-run game, 7-6.
Finally, first baseman Brian O'Grady yanked a deep fly ball to right field off the bottom right-hand corner of the scoreboard to make it a tie game, 7-7.
"All of a sudden Pensacola has become Coors Field," said Pensacola manager Pat Kelly, referring to the home-run prone Colorado Rockies stadium. "Balls were jumping out of here."
Kelly's favorite long ball was smacked by O'Grady, who hit his seventh homer this season but is batting .167.
"None of those were cheapies," Kelly said. "They were all good but O'Grady's was the game's biggest one. He's been struggling a little bit. It was nice to see him break out."
Pensacola also got a dinger out of center fielder Gabriel Guerrero. The Southern League All-Star clobbered a three-run homer to left field in the third inning with second baseman Alberti Chavez and shortstop Blake Trahan on base, which put the Blue Wahoos on top, 3-1. It was his fifth homer of the season.
Mobile seemed to blow the game wide open with its four-run sixth inning to take a 7-3 lead. BayBears shortstop Zach Houchins leadoff with his fourth triple this year into the right field corner. Mobile right fielder Zach Gibbons hit a chopper that Pensacola first baseman Brian O'Grady muffed to allow Houchins to score for a 4-3 Mobile lead. BayBears catcher Jose Briceno then tripled off the top of the wall in left field to drive in Gibbons making it, 5-3. It was his third RBI of the game and he now has 40 this season. Bo Way smacked a sharp line drive to centerfield that drove in Briceno for a 6-3 BayBears lead. The final run scored when Brennon Lund hit a sacrifice fly to left field to score Way for a 7-3 Mobile lead.
All four runs, two of which were earned, came off Pensacola reliever Robert Stock.
"(Mobile) can hit the fastball," Kelly said. "It took Stock six hitters to figure out they were swinging at the first pitch."
"We showed a lot of character coming back to put a four-spot against them," Kelly said. "I liked our approach tonight. We're getting ready to turn the corner."
Besides left fielder Lund's game-winning homer, Mobile catcher Jose Briceno tagged a bullet to left field for a two-out, two-run home run with Houchins on base to knot the game, 3-3 in the fourth inning. It was Briceno's second homer in three games against the Blue Wahoos giving him eight on the season.
Nothing prepared onlookers for the home run parade. The game was tied, 3-3, after five innings.
Pensacola starter Jesus Reyes pitched five innings gave up three runs on six hits and two walks and struck out three.
"I thought he battled," Kelly said.
Mobile leads the Southern Division with a 26-22 record in the second half, while Pensacola, which won the first half, dropped to 21-27.
GAME NOTES The Pensacola Blue Wahoos play the fourth game of a five-game series with the Los Angeles Angels Double-A affiliate Mobile BayBears at 4:05 p.m. Sunday. The BayBears are starting RHP Jaime Barria (1-4, 3.25) against the Blue Wahoos RHP Austin Ross (7-0, 1.50).
The games are broadcast live on the Blue Wahoos flagship station 97.1 The Ticket. Listen for free at bluewahoos.com and by using the TuneIn Radio app on your mobile, desktop or home devices.
You can watch the home games live or tape delayed on Cox Sports Television Monday through Thursday on Channel 319. Friday, Saturday and Sunday games are broadcast live on BLAB-TV.
BIG FISH Center fielder Gabriel Guerrero was 1-4 with a three-run homer...Right fielder Aristides Aquino went 1-4 and crushed his team-leading 13th home run...Left fielder Josh VanMeter hit 1-4 with a two-run home run...First baseman Brian O'Grady was 1-4 and smashed a homer off the bottom right corner of the scoreboard...Third baseman Nick Senzel was 2-4 and improved his batting average to .345 with Pensacola.
Tickets to the 2017 playoffs are now on sale! Purchase tickets online at bluewahoos.com, visiting the Box Office or calling 850-934-8444. The Pensacola Blue Wahoos are the Double-A Affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds and a member of the Southern League. Follow the Pensacola Blue Wahoos at BlueWahoos.com, facebook.com/PensacolaBlueWahoos and twitter.com/BlueWahoosBBall.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.