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Baseball Returns To Blue Wahoos Stadium With Pensacola State College Home Debut 

Pensacola State College baseball coach Brian Lewallyn addresses press conference during his introduction in 2016. Lewallyn and his team will play at Blue Wahoos Stadium for the first time January 30 in a three-team, three game event. (Bill Vilona)
January 29, 2021

The pictures Bill Hamilton took during the first Pensacola Blue Wahoos practice in early-April 2012 at the then-newly completed, bayfront stadium, are saved on his cell phone. Special memories, of course. One day, the now-retired athletic director at Pensacola State College and the school’s long-time, former baseball coach, hoped his

The pictures Bill Hamilton took during the first Pensacola Blue Wahoos practice in early-April 2012 at the then-newly completed, bayfront stadium, are saved on his cell phone.

Special memories, of course.

One day, the now-retired athletic director at Pensacola State College and the school’s long-time, former baseball coach, hoped his team would play a game at Blue Wahoos Stadium.

That will happen Saturday when Pensacola State is joined by conference rival Northwest Florida State College and neighboring Coastal Alabama Community College from Brewton, Alabama in a one-day, three-game event showcasing junior college baseball at Blue Wahoos Stadium.

“It will be really special for me to see our guys playing in that park,” said Hamilton, who earlier this month announced his retirement following 32 years at PSC. “For it to be our (Pensacola) stadium, our town and our two year institution -- that I spent almost of my professional life working at – to play in there, that is a unique connection to me.”

It will a first-time experience for all three teams.

And this is the first college baseball event since the first week of March in 2020, shortly before the coronavirus pandemic made its impact and cancelled baseball seasons at all levels.

Tickets will be $10 for adults, $7 for seniors, military and youth, and good for all three games. Each game will be seven innings. Saturday’s first game at 11 a.m. features Pensacola State against Coastal Alabama.

Like all events at Blue Wahoos Stadium during the coronavirus, face coverings will be required to enter the ballpark. The masks must remain on until fans are seated.

“This is special for us for so many reasons,” said PSC baseball coach Brian Lewallyn, who is in his fifth season as Pirates coach, after being a player at PSC under Hamilton in 2001-03.

“This is will really be our first home game since we stopped last year,” said Lewallyn, a Pine Forest High graduate. “Being a Pensacola baseball guy from a Pensacola baseball family, I know how long we have wanted to play in that stadium.

“I hope this is something we can do on a regular basis. I know the kids are super excited about it.”

Pensacola State and Northwest Florida State, which is coached by former PSC assistant coach Doug Martin, both opened their seasons on the road in south Florida last weekend. Both teams went 1-2 against teams in different locations.

Saturday will be the season-opener for Coastal Alabama, which has several former Pensacola area high school standouts on its roster.

“It’s exciting and it’s nice to have college baseball actually played here again and for fans to come out and experience baseball again,” said Blue Wahoos president Jonathan Griffith.

Blue Wahoos owner Quint Studer first met Hamilton prior to the formation of the Pensacola Pelicans in 2002. That first season for the Pelicans as an Independent League pro team was played at Pensacola State’s ballpark.

One night that year, Studer and his wife, Rishy, along with friends, opted to check out a game for the first time. Quint Studer was so wowed by the experience he inquired about purchasing the team, which he knew was struggling to keep going.

From that point, it began an odyssey that led Studer to bringing Double-A affiliated baseball to Pensacola, forming the Blue Wahoos and the building of Blue Wahoos Stadium.

So often, Studer credits Hamilton for his role in bringing professional baseball to Pensacola.

“I know once I was at a (civic function) and Quint told the audience after recognizing me that if it wasn’t for Bill Hamilton, there would have been no Pelicans and if there were no (Pensacola) Pelicans there would be no Blue Wahoos,” Hamilton said.

“He has always given me credit and it is a little humbling, to be honest. I am proud to have a little part in the impetus of all of this to start.”

Lewallyn said his team has juggled dealing with safe practices amid the coronavirus and getting back into competitive baseball form.

“One of the biggest things about this is just getting back on a field again and playing,” he said. “I couldn’t be more appreciative of Quint Studer, Jonathan, Shannon Reeves (events director) for putting this together and extending us the opportunity to play there.”

WANT TO GO?

WHAT: Junior College Baseball.

WHO: Pensacola State College, Northwest Florida State College, Coastal Alabama Community College.

WHEN: Saturday (Jan. 30). First game at 11 a.m. Gates open at 10 a.m.

WHERE: Blue Wahoos Stadium

TICKETS: $10 general admission (good for all three games). $7 for active, retired military with ID, seniors 65-older, children ages 5-12. Children 5-under are free. Tickets can be purchased online through a link on www.bluewahoos.com and at stadium box office.

FORMAT: PSC vs. Coastal Alabama at 11 a.m., Northwest Florida State vs. Coastal Alabama (30 minutes after conclusion of first game), then PSC vs. Northwest Florida State.

COVID Protocols: All fans must wear a mask to enter stadium. Masks must be kept on when walking the concourse areas and ordering food at concession stands. Fans allowed to remove masks once in their seats.