Heading into this game against the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, the Birmingham Barons and center-fielder Duke Ellis were on a downward skid. Birmingham scored 16 total runs in a six-game series with the Rocket City Trash Pandas, and Ellis had two hits on the season. However, in a 10-4 victory over
Heading into this game against the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, the Birmingham Barons and center-fielder Duke Ellis were on a downward skid. Birmingham scored 16 total runs in a six-game series with the Rocket City Trash Pandas, and Ellis had two hits on the season. However, in a 10-4 victory over the Blue Wahoos, all of those problems seemed to go away.
The Blue Wahoos struck first with a single that scored one run. Down early, the Barons were used to this feeling and were finally able to find a solution.
The solution started with pitching. The initial run was the only run allowed by right-handed starter Chase Solesky. Solesky found his rhythm, shutting out Pensacola in his final three innings. The Florida native would finish his night with 4.0 IP, one strikeout and only allowing the solo run.
With Solesky’s help from the bump, the Barons could focus on their plate appearances. The bats started to click in the third inning. After newcomer Ben Norman doubled in his debut at-bat, Ellis squared up a bunt and displayed his speed to beat the throw at first.
Two-on and no outs meant that the game was there for the taking. Especially, with the Barons No. 1 ranked OBP hitter third baseman Taylor Snyder, up to bat.
Snyder took the moment and sent a liner to centerfield, scoring Norman and Ellis in the process. The Barons, now with the lead in the top of the fourth inning, solidified the momentum shift with the final shutout inning from Solesky.
The Barons continued the scoring in the top of the fifth. Just like the fourth, Ellis was part of the jump start. This time, the speedster used his patience at the plate, finding a way to a five pitch walk with the bases loaded and sending in first-baseman Tyler Osik.
Birmingham did not stop the scoring there. The Barons tacked on a total of four runs in the fifth. Snyder, shortstop Moises Castillo and second-baseman Jose Rodriguez all earned an RBI in the inning.
Now with the five run cushion, Birmingham was not ready to take their foot off the gas. In the next two innings they would produce four more runs. Two of those runs came off a two-bagger from Ellis.
Ellis finished his night 2-for-2 from the plate with three RBIs, and two walks. Coming into today, the 25-year-old was battling a slump. Hopefully, today’s sparks prove that Duke is ready for Double-A ball.
Even though Ellis was the highlight from the plate, the bullpen did exactly what they were brought in to do: Protect the lead.
The four relief pitchers that appeared in the game combined for five innings of work with six total strikeouts. The group's effort was paramount for the stellar finish to the game. one reliever stood out among the rest: Right-hander Vince Vannelle.
Vannelle came into this appearance with a 31.50 ERA, and it is safe to say that he dramatically decreased that number. The Ohio native finished his outing with two strikeouts, allowing one hit and one ER, in his 2.0 IP.
Vannelle was credited with the win, and rightfully so.
Despite the late surge by the Blue Wahoos, the Barons were already in full control of the game.
Birmingham didn’t just stop a four-game losing streak, they proved to themselves that they can have all phases work together at the same time.
The Barons cannot celebrate too much as they have five more games in Florida. The next game will be at 11:00 a.m. CDT in their second day game of the 2023 season.