JACKSONVILLE, Fla., - Pensacola starting pitcher Keury Mella turned in his fourth strong start in a row for the Blue Wahoos.
This time, the 24-year-old Dominican allowed one run in seven innings, while Pensacola third baseman Josh VanMeter singled in the winning run to help the Blue Wahoos overcome the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, 2-1, Sunday at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. The win tied the series, 2-2.
Mella gave up just four hits, no walks and struck out six. In the past four games, the right-hander has given up six runs, five earned in 25 innings for a 1.80 ERA, while striking out 23. He has turned his year around since the Mobile BayBears chased him from the game by scoring seven runs in 2.2 innings on Aug. 10
The victory improved his regular season record to 4-10 with a 4.30 ERA.
Blue Wahoos closer Tanner Rainey picked up his fourth save in his last four appearances since Aug. 28. Rainey, whose fastball touches 100 mph, has not allowed a run or hit in his last six games, recording 13 strikeouts in 6.2 innings.
Sunday, the big right-hander made it interesting, though. Rainey walked the first two batters he faced in the ninth inning. However, he got a strikeout and then Jacksonville right fielder John Norwood hit a line drive to second baseman Shed Long, who quickly threw to first to get Austin Dean out for a double play to end the game.
Pensacola rallied to beat Jacksonville with two out in the sixth inning by getting three singles in a row by right fielder Gabriel Guerrero, Long and third baseman Josh VanMeter. Guerrero's single scored Mella, who had singled, to tie the Jumbo Shrimp, 1-1. Then VanMeter singled up the middle to drive in Long and put Pensacola up, 2-1.
Jacksonville's only run of the game came on a solo home run by first baseman Justin Bour, who is on a rehab assignment from the Miami Marlins where he hit 21 homers this year.
Because Pensacola won the Southern Division in the first half, it will play Jacksonville, the second half champion, in the best of five game playoffs scheduled to start Sept. 6 at Blue Wahoos Stadium.
The Blue Wahoos won a Southern League record four halves in a row to tie the Tennessee Smokies, which also won four straight halves between 2009 and 2011.
Pensacola improved to 33-36 in the second half and 73-66 overall, while Jacksonville fell to 39-30 and 69-70.
GAME NOTES The Pensacola Blue Wahoos play the final game of the five-game series against the Miami Marlins Double-A affiliate the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp at 1:05 p.m. Monday. The Jumbo Shrimp are starting RHP Needy (0-0, 0.00) against the Blue Wahoos Jesus Reyes (1-4, 3.47 ERA).
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.
BIG FISH Second baseman Shed Long 1-for-3, a walk and a run scored...Right fielder Gabriel Guerrero 1-fpr-4 with one RBI...Third baseman Josh VanMeter 2-for-4 with one RBI for 54 this season to tie him for the team lead...Pitcher Keury Mella 1-for-2 with a run scored. He is 5-for-28 this season with two runs scored and five RBIs.
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.