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Blue Wahoos Endure 3-Hour Delay, 4-Run Deficit, Then Walk It Off To Finish Dramatic Six-Game Sweep 

Victor Victor Mesa with shirt off, celebrates with teammate Jerar Encarnacion after Mesa's dramatic walk-off hit to complete a four-run rally and beat Rocket City 6-5 Sunday to sweep the series. (Daniel Venn)
May 16, 2022

The Blue Wahoos luck with perfect weather for home games ran out on Sunday. But not the charmed life this team has created. In one of the most memorable wins in the Blue Wahoos’ 10-year history, Victor Victor Mesa completed a four-run rally in the ninth inning with a walkoff

The Blue Wahoos luck with perfect weather for home games ran out on Sunday.

But not the charmed life this team has created.

In one of the most memorable wins in the Blue Wahoos’ 10-year history, Victor Victor Mesa completed a four-run rally in the ninth inning with a walkoff hit and 6-5 win against Rocket City – a wowing finish to a game that began five hours earlier and endured a near-three hour, rain delay.

The dramatic finish put an exclamation on a six-game sweep of the Trash Pandas (18-15), who entered the week with the best record in the Southern League.

It was the Blue Wahoos (18-15) first six-game, series sweep of any opponent since the full-week series format began in 2021 and has zoomed Pensacola into a first-place gap in the league’s South Division. The Tennessee Smokies supplanted Rocket City atop the North Division standings.

Yes, it’s a lot to unpack. So, here goes.

“It was unbelievable,” said reliever Colton Hock, who earned the win after pitching out of a jam in the top of the ninth to keep the score at 5-2.

“You would think on a Sunday, after playing a bunch of games that the guys are going to be tired, but for three hours (rain delay), we were just loose,” Hock said. “No one expected to go home. I don’t think anyone was thinking what’s next on the schedule.

“That is probably as good of an inning you can have at any level and to cap off a 6-0 week.”

Blue Wahoos manager Kevin Randel hugs Victor Victor Mesa after his game-winning hit May 15. Nino Mendez/Pensacola Blue Wahoos

The game started at 4:08 p.m. Sunday under an ominous sky. It was the first time in 15 home games, so far this season, that potential inclement weather threatened a game. The majority of home games had been played under perfect, clear-sky weather

Blue Wahoos starter Jeff Lindgren, who was stellar in his first start since coming back, had a rough beginning. The Trash Pandas scored four runs in the first inning.

It was a 4-1 game at 5:10 p.m. after four innings when the thunderclouds arrived over the stadium. The umpires halted play, the Blue Wahoos staff raced to cover the field, and from that point, a laborious rain delay ensued.

Because it was the series finale and the last game between these teams this season, the scenario heightened the importance to wait out the weather and finish the game. At 8:05 p.m. the game resumed with Rocket City batting in the fifth inning.

When the game restarted, most of the crowd of 3,808 had gone home and only 200 or so fans stayed to see what became an unforgettable finish.

The Trash Pandas extended their lead to 5-1 in the sixth, but the Blue Wahoos got one run in the 6th inning and their bullpen kept the deficit within striking distance.

Blue Wahoos reliever Colton Hock takes final look at scoreboard after team's dramatic win May 15. Nino Mendez/Pensacola Blue Wahoos

After Hock stranded two runners to record the third out in the top of the ninth in his only inning, the Blue Wahoos had one last shot to make magic.

And they did.

Griffin Conine led off the team's final at-bat with a double. Cobie Fletcher-Vance followed with a single against reliever Luis Ledo to score Conine. Bubba Hollins followed with a walk. With Hayden Cantrelle replacing Hollins as pinch-runner, a one-out wild pitch from Ledo allowed both runners to move into scoring position.

On a 3-2 pitch, Santiago Chavez then singled to score Fletcher-Vance. and on the throw to the plate, Chavez went to second and Cantrelle was held at third. Ledo then threw another wild pitch to score Cantrelle with the tying run.

"It's crazy because it becomes contagious," Hock said. "Bubba has an awesome at-bat. All of a sudden you see how disciplined the guys are at the plate and that's a contagious thing. I was locked and ready to go out there if we had stayed tied."

After whiffing on two previous breaking pitches, Mesa forced a 3-2 count and laced the next pitch into right field to score pinch-runner Thomas Jones and ignite the celebration that went from the infield, all the way out with the entire team in against the wall in centerfield.

The party continued in the clubhouse and likely throughout Sunday night, especially with Monday being an off-day and a short trip to Montgomery on Tuesday to begin the next series.

:"Those are like those sandlot bat games you think about as kids and we get to play those in Double-A and have fun with it. We just have a good team here right now. We've been battling hard. I think guys are getting comfortable in their roles and we're seeing it this week."

GAME NOTABLES

--- Five hours before the dramatic ending, the pregame events began with WKRG-TV News 5 reporter Kimber Collins throwing out a first pitch.

--- Allen Turner Hyundai had a group outing on the Winn Dixie Party Deck in right field.

--- The National Anthem was performed by Pearl Clarkin.

--- The Gulf Breeze High Baseball team was represented with a 250-member group and participated in the 50/50 drawing table.

--- East Hill Christian School had a group outing at the ballpark.

--- Five different area youth baseball teams attended the game and were recognized on the field Sunday. They were the Navarre Youth Sports Association 12-Under Cardinals, Marlins, Wolves and Braves. In addition, the Bill Bond Blue Angels team from Pensacola was the fifth team and enjoyed the game on the Pepsi Pirate Party Deck.

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WHAT’S NEXT?

WHO: Blue Wahoos vs. Montgomery Biscuits

WHERE: Riverwalk Stadium, Montgomery, Ala.

WHEN: Tuesday (May 17) through May 22.

GAMETIMES: 6:35 p.m. on Tuesday-Friday, 6:05 p.m. Saturday, 3:35 p.m. on Sunday.

TICKETS: Online at www.milb.com/montgomery/tickets.

RADIO: ESPN-Pensacola (99.1 FM and 1330 AM and WYCT 98.7 HD4).

TV: YurView (check provider) and MILB.tv (streaming) through www.milb.com/live-stream-games with subscription discount using BLUE WAHOOS.

NEXT HOMESTAND: Begins on May 24 vs. Mississippi Braves at Blue Wahoos Stadium.