Blue Wahoos’ Tough Luck At Plate Continues In 2-1 Loss To Smokies

Written by Bill Vilona

For a split-second, the capacity crowd Friday at Blue Wahoos Stadium was instantly energized as leadoff batter Joe Mack connected on a ninth-inning pitch with a resonating crack.
Alas, his laser drive smacked right into the glove of Tennessee Smokies right fielder Cole Roederer as the stadium groaned.
Nothing more typified the Blue Wahoos’ night at the plate, as the Tennessee Smokies took a 2-1 victory and extended the home team’s recent trend of offensive struggles.
Four Smokies pitchers held the Blue Wahoos to three hits in a loss that knocked Pensacola into second place in the Southern League division standings. It was the sixth time in the last 10 games the Blue Wahoos were held to two or less runs.
The only inning when the Blue Wahoos had two runners on base happened in the seventh. That’s when the 5,038 at the ballpark on Giveaway Friday became most excited.
Cody Morissette sliced a pitch down the left field line. The ball, however, bounced over the wall for a ground-rule double that scored Mack, but thwarted Zach Zubia from scoring the tying run while rounding third base.
Reliever Cam Sanders then struck out Harrison Spohn to end the inning. The Blue Wahoos went down in the order in the eighth and ninth innings.
It was a night that began with a crush at the stadium’s main gate as fans flocked to get one of the Blue Wahoos beach towels from game sponsor Florida Blue before the supply was gone.
Blue Wahoos starter Evan Fitterer overcame a rocky first three innings to deliver another quality start. His only blemish happened in the third inning when the Smokies' Kevin Alcantara and Luis Verdugo connected on back-to-back doubles. The latter was a bouncer that hugged the third-base line.
Fitterer absorbed the loss after working six innings, allowing six hits with four strikeouts. The Blue Wahoos bullpen arms of Lincoln Henzman and Raffi Vizcaíno tossed three shoutout innings, allowing just one hit.
The win enabled the Smokies (25-18) to take a 3-1 lead in the series that now shifts to Saturday’s fireworks night with M.D. Johnson on the mound for the Blue Wahoos. He was engaging with fans Friday while handing out beach towels to season-ticket holders.

GAME NOTABLES

--- The attractive, colorful beach towels handed to the first 1,000 fans Friday featured a bright design by Blue Wahoos Vice President of Creative and Communications Anthony Aspenson. It featured photos of fans inside the Blue Wahoos lettering.
--- Among the four youth teams recognized on the field Friday and running out with Blue Wahoos players before the National Anthem was a youth team from Tallahassee, exemplifying the wide reach of groups attending games at the stadium.
--- In the seventh inning, as the Blue Wahoos produced their lone run, professional golf star Bubba Watson’s two children, Caleb and Dakota, were the guest junior public address announcers. Watson, a Blue Wahoos co-owner, has made family gatherings at the ballpark a frequent night out.
--- The Blue Wahoos’ Bennett Hostetler and new outfielder Jorge Caballerro, whose sensational, leaping catch preserved the Blue Wahoos 2-0 win Thursday, handed out beach towels at the main gate entrance.
WANT TO GO?
WHO: Tennessee Smokies vs. Blue Wahoos
WHEN: Saturday, 6:05 p.m.
WHERE: Blue Wahoos Stadium
TICKETS: A limited number of seats are available for Saturday’s game.
PROMOTION: Fireworks Saturday. A post-game fireworks show, sponsored by Pepsi, will follow the game. In addition, this will be the “Marvel Defenders of the Diamond Night.” The Blue Wahoos will wear custom-made Marvel specialty jerseys.
AUDIO BROADCAST: Available on www.bluewahoos.com/radio with Blue Wahoos broadcasters Erik Bremer and Carter Bainbridge. The broadcast is also available on the MiLB App.
LIVE TV: The game will be broadcast on Blab TV. It will also be available on a video stream through Bally Live and MLB.TV (subscription required).

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