PENSACOLA--The Biloxi Shuckers labored through a six-run fifth inning on Wednesday night at Blue Wahoos Stadium, and ultimately fell to the Pensacola Blue Wahoos in game one of a five-game set, 8-3 at Blue Wahoos Stadium. Despite being nine games above .500, the Shuckers have been outscored during the 2016 season, 86-84 and are 3-7 in games decided by three runs or more.
Biloxi (17-8) held a one-run edge halfway through the game before Pensacola (14-12) erupted for six runs and jumped out in front.
The first five batters of the inning reached base before recording an out, scoring two runs in the process to take a one-run lead over the Shuckers.
Tristan Archer came on in relief of Biloxi starter Adrian Houser (1-3) with the bases loaded and struck out Alex Blandino looking for the first out of the frame. Reigning Southern League Hitter of the Week, Phillip Ervin sent a ball to right field, but a diving Tyrone Taylor could not make the play and the ball rolled away, allowing all three runners to score on the triple. Donald Lutz followed with a run-scoring fielder's choice to put Biloxi in a five-run deficit.
Houser's line finished much worse than his performance on the mound showed on Wednesday night. The 23-year-old lasted four innings and allowed seven runs on seven hits, but Pensacola did not make consistent, solid contact off the right-hander all night. Houser did not walk a batter for the first time this season, and struck out a season high, nine.
Biloxi did strike first as the Shuckers tallied all three of their runs in the first against Sal Romano (1-1).
Brett Phillips (0x2, R, 2 BB) drew a one-out walk and made it to third as both Jacob Nottingham (2x4, R) and Nick Ramirez (1x4, R) extended their hitting streaks to six games with singles. Victor Roache (0x3) went down swinging, bringing up 20-year-old Javier Betancourt (1x3, 2B, 2 RBI), who stroked a double to left to score two runs. Tony Renda mishandled the ball, allowing Ramirez to score all the way from first to clear the bases and give Biloxi a 3-0 lead before Pensacola could even step up to the plate.
Nottingham recorded his first multi-hit game of the year with the two-hit night.
Pensacola put up two runs on Houser in the second to pull within a run off of a two-run shot into the bay beyond the left field way off the bat of Chad Wallach.
Jed Bradley allowed a hit and punched out two in the seventh inning. Hobbs Johnson tossed the final two innings and gave up one hit while issuing one free pass, and struck out three.
Shuckers' pitching set a new season-high in a nine-inning game with 15 strikeouts on the evening, surpassing the previous high of 13 against the Chattanooga Lookouts on April 8.
Cincinnati Reds' 23rd-ranked prospect (Baseball America) Calten Daal went 3-for-4 with two runs scored in his Blue Wahoos Stadium debut. The 22-year-old is currently in the midst of a seven-game hitting streak
The Shuckers will try to even the series at 6:30 p.m. Thursday night at Blue Wahoos Stadium. RHP Jorge Ortega (0-1, 1.19) seeks out his first win of the season for Biloxi, while RHP Jackson Stephens (1-2, 5.06) toes the rubber for Pensacola.