Kirilloff homers again, keeps Wahoos alive

Twins No. 2 prospect goes deep in third straight playoff game

Alex Kirilloff has three dingers in the playoffs after hitting nine during the regular season. (Pensacola Blue Wahoos)

By Joe Bloss / | September 6, 2019 11:52 PM

Alex Kirilloff is doing everything he can to keep Double-A Pensacola alive.

As he had in each of the first two games of the best-of-5 Southern League semifinals, the second-ranked Twins prospect homered Friday night at Blue Wahoos Stadium. This time, though, it helped earn a 3-2 win over Biloxi at Blue Wahoos Stadium.

Video: Blue Wahoos' Kirilloff homers again

The Blue Wahoos trail, 2-1, in the best-of-5 series.

"We all know our backs are against the wall and we don't really have much to lose, so we're just taking it one game at a time right now," Kirilloff said. "That's all we can do."

After singling in the first inning, the 21-year-old opened the scoring with a towering solo shot to right field off right-hander Bowden Francis in the third. He finished 2-for-4 and has three playoff homers in 13 at-bats after totaling nine roundtrippers in 375 at-bats during the regular season.

"I'm just trying to do the best I can just to hit balls hard," said Kirilloff,'s No. 15 overall prospect. "I'm not thinking a whole lot. I think that's what's helping."

Gameday box score

He belted a game-tying grand slam in the ninth inning of Game 1, but Pensacola ended up dropping an 11-10 decision in the 10th. The 2016 first-round pick went deep again in the final frame of Game 2, but that accounted for the Blue Wahoos' only run in a 4-1 defeat.

Friday was different. Ryan Costello launched a solo shot in the fourth and, after the Shuckers scored twice in the fifth to tie the game, Twins No. 24 prospect Travis Blankenhorn put Pensacola back in front by plating top-ranked Royce Lewis with a single in the bottom half of the inning.

Complete playoff coverage

That was enough support on a dominant night for the Blue Wahoos pitching staff. Fourth-ranked Twins prospect Jordan Balazovic cruised through four hitless innings before the Shuckers strung together three singles to start the fifth. Joantgel Segovia skied a sacrifice fly to center field and Costello mishandled a bunt to first base by Alexander Alvarez to allow the tying run to score.

2019 MiLB include

But Dakota Chalmers came on and ended the threat, then didn't allow a hit over the next three innings. Both he and Balazovic were making their Double-A debut.

"Both of them kept their composure really well and were able to stay within the zone and not be all over the place," said Kirilloff, who played left field. "I think that was big and they both have great stuff. Those guys are going to be good for a long time."

Anthony Vizcaya earned the save with three strikeouts in the ninth. The 25-year-old right-hander pitched to a 0.78 ERA in 46 innings with the Blue Wahoos during the regular season.

The series returns to Biloxi's MGM Park for Game 4 on Saturday night.

In other Southern League playoff action:

Generals 4, Biscuits 0

Jackson used the long ball to claim a 2-1 lead in the other best-of-5 series. Drew Ellis clubbed a two-run shot off Rays No. 16 prospect Joe Ryan in the third and fourth-ranked D-backs prospect Seth Beer made it back-to-back homers. Ellis went yard again in eighth and Bo Takahashi tossed six scoreless innings to claim the win, allowing four hits and four walks while striking out two. Miguel Aguilar, Junior Garcia and West Tunnell each threw a perfect inning to seal the victory. Game 4 is Saturday in Montgomery. Gameday box score

Joe Bloss is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @jtbloss. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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