There were few good moments for the Blue Wahoos in an extended road series against Birmingham, which contained four walkoff defeats.
But they left town Tuesday night managing a smile.
After Caleb Hamilton produced a two-out, two-strike, game-tying hit in the final at-bat, it carried into a bigger 10th inning rally and 4-2 win against the Barons to salvage something from the six games at Regions Field in Birmingham.
The Blue Wahoos will now have an off-day Wednesday before a six-game homestand starts Thursday against the Montgomery Biscuits. The Biscuits are the Tampa Bay Rays affiliate and winners of the Southern League North Division first half race.
Staring at the prospect of a season-worst, six-game losing streak, all to the same opponent, the Blue Wahoos (10-10 second half, 48-42 overall) dug down and pulled out a different ending.
They got RBI hits by Alex Kirilloff and Mark Contreras in the 10th, then reliever Sam Clay (3-3) won his third game in his last five appearances with two shutout innings.
The sudden turnaround quieted a crowd of 5,735 as they readied in the ninth inning, expecting the Barons (14-5, 41-47) to seal a 10th straight home win.
Instead, on a 3-2 pitch against Danny Dopico, who had not blown a save this season, Hamilton smashed a double into the centerfield gap to tie the game. The Blue Wahoos only prior run came in the third inning.
They had left the bases loaded in the eighth against Dopico and seemed destined for another frustrating loss.
Not this time.
After tying the game, Clay entered in the bottom of the ninth and retired Birmingham in order. That thwarted another walk-off win, something Birmingham had done in amazing fashion the rest of the series.
In the 10th, Cronin started on second base in the MILB extra-inning format. He was out at third, however, trying to advance on Jordan Gore's grounder back to the mound. Travis Blankenhorn followed with a single to put runners on first and second.
Kifilloff, who did not have a hit in four prior at-bats, singled to left to score Gore. With two out, Contreras doubled into right field to score Blankenhorn and provide a 4-2 lead.
In the bottom of the 10th, Clay gave up a two-out single to Laz Rivera, but ended the game by getting Nick Madrigal to fly out to Contreras in center.
The win kept the Blue Wahoos from being swept in a six game series. They returned to Pensacola after the game and enjoyed a league-wide break Wednesday from the schedule.
Tuesday's win also put a halt on the Blue Wahoos road woes. They were 2-13 entering the game in their most recent road trips, including seven straight road losses.
This game started with the Barons scoring first in the first inning. With two outs, Blue Wahoos starter Griffin Jax gave up a pair of walks, then an RBI single to Ti'Quan Forbest.
The Blue Wahoos tied the game in the third inning when shortstop Jordan Gore homered over the center field wall, only his second homer of the season.
Birmingham took a 2-1 lead in the fifth inning on Nick Madrigal's single, scoring Damek Tomscha, who led off the inning with a walk.
In the eighth inning, after being retired in order with nine straight batters, the Blue Wahoos missed a big chance for a big inning.
Hamilton and Cronin both walked to start the inning. Gore reached on a bunt single, while trying for a sacrifice, thus loading the bases.
Enter Dopico from the bullpen. He promptly struck out the Blue Wahoos' top hitters, Blankenhorn and Kirilloff, then struck out Brian Schales to end the inning.
Just like that, a bases loaded, none out situation, ended in futility.
Birmingham then followed with a leadoff double by Laz Rivera in the bottom of the eighth, but he was out trying to stretch the play to a triple on a relay throw from Blankenhorn, to Gore to Schales. Reliever Adam Bray then reitired the next two batters to end the inning.
It set the stage for the Blue Wahoos dramatic win.
They finished with just six hits in the game. Gore went 2-for-4 with an RBI. Hamilton, Contreras, Kirilloff and Blankenhorn had the others. Kirilloff has now reached base in 15 of his last 16 games.
The Blue Wahoos have a variety of promotions planned for the home series against Montgomery, the Tampa Bay Rays affiliate. It starts with a Thirsty Thursday night and will end on July 17 with a Mardi Gras theme night and Tuesday night, post-game fireworks.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.