Biloxi, Miss. - With the bases loaded and one out, Max McDowell came off the bench a hit a ground-rule double off Joel Bender (L, 0-1) to give the Shuckers a thrilling 5-3 win in game one of the Southern League South Division Series.
The Wahoos were off to a dream start after TJ Friedl homered off the 2018 Southern League's Most Outstanding Pitcher, Zack Brown, to give Pensacola a 2-0 lead in the third inning. Friedl only hit two home runs during the regular season; however, one of those two came at MGM Park.
Seth Varner opened the game for the Wahoos and grinded his way through five innings. In the first inning, the Shuckers had the bases loaded and couldn't score. In the third inning, Biloxi had two men on with nobody out, and again, Varner kept Biloxi off the board. Eventually, the southpaw was lifted after five innings having allowed one run on seven hits with one walk and six strikeouts.
In the seventh inning, Taylor Featherston led off the inning with a solo homer off Jeff Ames to restore Pensacola's two-run lead over the Shuckers. However, Featherston gave that run back in the bottom of the inning with an errant throw. With two outs and a runner at third, Featherston fielded a grounder cleanly but missed badly with his throw to first, which allowed Troy Stokes Jr. to score to cut Pensacola's lead down to 3-2.
In the eighth inning and Robinson Leyer pitching, Lucas Erceg hit two-out solo home run on an 0-2 pitch to tie the game at three. For Leyer, it was his first homer allowed since August 20 when he allowed an eighth-inning home run to Clint Coulter at MGM Park. In the ninth, Jody Davis brought in Alejandro Chacin, and despite loading the bases with only one out, Chacin struck out the side to send the game into extras.
After scoreless 10th and 11th innings, the Shuckers led off the 12th with a pair of singles against Bender. Weston Wilson laid down a sacrifice bunt to move up the runners, and after an intentional walk to load the bases. Mike Guerrero brought in McDowell-his only other catcher-to pinch hit for the pitcher's spot in the lineup. Davis brought in Jose Siri from center in order to have a five-man infield, but McDowell laced a walk-off double to give Biloxi a series-opening win. It appeared after the hit that no other runners touched home plate despite the ball bouncing out of play, and by rule, McDowell's walk-off is potentially subject to change as a single, thus changing the final score to 4-3.
Game two of the South Division Series will begin Thursday night at MGM Park. RHP Vladimir Gutierrez gets the nod in an imperative game for Pensacola while Biloxi will send out RHP Thomas Jankins. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. CT and Thursday's playoff coverage can be heard on 97.1 The Ticket/1490 AM Milton, and www.bluewahoos.com.
- Pensacola Blue Wahoos -
The Pensacola Blue Wahoos are the Double-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. The 2018 season is coming to a close, but single-game playoff tickets are now available. For postseason ticket packages or 2019 season-ticket plans, call (850) 934-8444 or online. Follow the Blue Wahoos at bluewahoos.com, facebook.com/PensacolaBlueWahoos, and twitter.com/BlueWahoosBBall
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