Gabby Guerrero made his 2-for-5 night at the plate seem forgettable by throwing out two would-be Mobile runs at the plate in the ninth inning to save the series finale for the fish.
Wyatt Strahan in his first career Double-A start turned in five strong innings and the offense jumped on the BayBears early making the win seem all but inevitable. However, Strahan's win was in serious jeopardy up until the final out was recorded.
With the Wahoos leading 5-1 in the eighth inning, Brennan Bernardino came into the game trying to build upon his strong start to the season. After retiring the first two batters, Brennon Lund walked and Taylor Ward singled. That set the stage for Hutton Moyer to smack his third homer of the series, making it a 5-4 game.
Jody Davis then opted to bring in his closer in the eighth, and Ariel Hernandez (S, 1) fought his way towards his first save of the season. He retired Michael Bearish to close out the eighth before running into danger in the ninth.
Connor Justus led off the ninth inning with a double to right. Wade Wass immediately followed by rifling a single into center and the only thing that prevented the BayBears from tying the game was Guerrero's perfect throw to the plate to hose Justus.
Guerrero wasn't finished there.
Wass took second base on the throw to plate, and the next batter, Zach Gibbons, singled right back up the middle and in déjà vu fashion, Guerrero came up firing and again threw out Wass at the plate for his second outfield assist in as many plays. Hernandez then induced Brandon Sanger into a more conventional groundout to seal a hard-fought victory for the Wahoos.
Offensively Nick Longhi set the pace for the Wahoos once again with his second three-hit game of the series, extending his hitting streak to 10 games dating back to last season.
Pensacola dealt most of their damage in the third inning with a three-run rally off righty Dylan Unsworth (L, 0-1). Alfredo Rodriguez led off the inning with a single, and after a Shed Long groundout, Longhi singled to center to tie the game at 1-1. Gabby Guerrero followed with his first of two hits before Josh VanMeter scored both he and Longhi with his second double of the season to make it 3-1.
Pensacola tacked on valuable insurance runs in the seventh and the eights to make it 5-1.
At first glance, it looked like it could be a long night for Strahan and the Wahoos. In the bottom of the first inning, Mobile had runners on the corners after just three batters. Moyer lifted a sac fly to left-field to make it 1-0, and Strahan rebounded nicely by retiring Bearish to limit the damage.
Strahan enters this season fully healthy for the first time since the 2015 season while pitching with Dayton. The former USC standout injured his right elbow in 2016 while with the Tortugas and missed almost the entire year after undergoing Tommy John surgery. After a strong showing last season with the Tortugas, Strahan figures to be an important figure in the Blue Wahoos starting rotation moving forward.
Outside of the late-inning drama, the Blue Wahoos bullpen continued to build upon their strong start to 2018. Dean Kiekhefer and Robinson Leyer combined to pitch two more scoreless innings while striking out a pair.
Pensacola returns home to kick off their first homestand of the season when they host the 2017 Southern League North Division champion Chattanooga Lookouts. Last year, the Twins Double-A affiliate posted the best record in the Southern League with a 91-49 record. The homestand will kick off this Wednesday with a special ring presentation and banner-raising celebration prior to first pitch, which is scheduled for 6:35.
- Pensacola Blue Wahoos -
The Pensacola Blue Wahoos are the Double-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. The Blue Wahoos open their home schedule on Wednesday, April 11 at BlueWahoos Stadium. Group packages, season tickets, mini plans and single-game tickets are available for the 2018 season by calling (850) 934-8444 or online. Follow the 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.