Birmingham, Ala. – The most successful stretch in Blue Wahoos franchise history now has a special feat attached.
The Blue Wahoos blasted their way to a record ninth consecutive win, led by Victor Mesa Jr. hitting a three-run homer in the seventh inning to break a tie game in Pensacola’s eventual 9-3 victory Tuesday night against the Tennessee Smokies at Blue Wahoos Stadium.
A crowd of 3,337 on “Doggone Tuesday” where fans can bring their beloved dogs watched a continuation of the Blue Wahoos’ (23-11) scorching streak. This team has now won 17 of its last 18 games with possession of the best record in the Southern League.
“That’s the most impressive part,” said Blue Wahoos manager Kevin Randel on the three-week success. “I don’t think I’ve been a part of something like this, to be honest. We’ve had some good runs, but even last year, I don’t think we had anything close to this.”
The same components of the three-week stretch were on display. The Blue Wahoos got strong pitching, this time from M.D. Johnson’s longest start of the season, then Will Stewart and Sean Reynolds in scoreless relief. Reynolds struck out the game’s final batter with the bases loaded.
Johnson worked six complete innings, allowing three runs on a pair of homers, but also produced nine strikeouts and zero walks.
They peppered 14 hits against four Smokies pitchers. Dane Myers had five of those hits on a 5-for-5 night with two runs scored. Every Blue Wahoos batter reached base and eight had at least one hit.
And the Blue Wahoos played flawless defense.
“It’s a good core group of guys who are grinding every day. The lineup we roll out there is relentless,” Randel said. “If the pitching holds up we always have a chance. The guys did a great job with two strikes (Tuesday) and the goal is to just win every at-bat, win every pitch.
“We are on a nice little streak. The ‘Hoos are hot. But they’re fun to watch.”
After scoring their first two runs on errors, the Blue Wahoos tied the game on Will Banfield’s solo homer in the sixth inning.
In the decisive seventh inning, Troy Johnson led off with a single and Dane Myers singled. Mesa Jr. following by hitting a 92-mph cutter from Ryan Jensen over the right field wall. The ball just cleared a leaping attempt by right fielder Owen Caissie as the crowd roared.
Jose Devers followed with a single and later scored on Barrett Hostetier’s two-out single, finishing a 4-run rally.