In a game that saw ten doubles, six home runs and five lead changes, Dillon Thomas’ walk-off home run in the tenth gave the Biloxi Shuckers an 11-10 win over the Pensacola Blue Wahoos in Game 1 to open the Southern League playoffs Wednesday night at MGM Park.
Tied at 10-10 in the bottom of the tenth, Pensacola lefty Jovani Moran walked Luis Aviles Jr. to start the inning, but Cooper Hummel bounced into a double play to cancel out the runner. Down in a 1-2 count, Thomas connected for a 433-foot homer to straightaway center, sending the Shuckers into a frenzy at home plate for an 11-10 winner.
The Shuckers had to overcome a blown lead in the ninth inning to force extras. Up 9-5 heading to the top of the ninth inning, right-hander Nate Griep entered the game and issued a pair of walks on either side of a double, loading up the bases with no outs. Alex Kiriloff then lifted the second pitch of his at bat over the right-field wall, tying the game with a grand slam. Right-hander Justin Topa, who picked up the win, replaced Griep but surrendered a solo home run to Royce Lewis, putting Pensacola in front 10-9.
In the bottom of the ninth, C.J. Hinojosa led off with a single and moved to second on a wild pitch from Alex Philips. After a pair of flyouts, Phillips had a two-strike count on Joantgel Segovia, but the Shuckers outfielder bounced a single into right, scoring Hinojosa from second to send the game to extra innings.
Biloxi jumped out to an early 2-0 lead through three innings after Hummel scored on a pair of wild pitches. RHP Alec Bettinger retired the first nine men he faced in order but allowed three runs on four doubles in the fourth as Pensacola went in front 3-2. The Shuckers recorded a big inning of their own in the fifth, scoring five runs on a Thomas RBI single and a pair of two-run homers by Hinojosa and Jake Gatewood.
Pensacola answered the Shuckers in the bottom of the fifth with a pair of runs in the top of the sixth, but Aviles doubled home Max McDowell in the sixth to extend the Shuckers back to a three-run advantage. Bruce Caldwell appeared to put Biloxi in front for good with a solo home run in the seventh, pushing the Shuckers to a 9-5 lead.
Game 2 was set to be played Thursday night at MGM Park. Game 3 will be played at 6:35 p.m. on Friday at Pensacola. If necessary, Game 4 will take place at 6:35 p.m. on Saturday at MGM Park. Game 5 would also be played in Biloxi, at 5:05 p.m. on Sunday.