Castillo earns a career-high 10 strikeouts against Barons.
PENSACOLA, Fla., – Pensacola Blue Wahoos starting pitcher Luis Castillo earned a career-high 10 strikeouts and Alex Blandino hit a walk-off home run to lead their team to a, 2-1, victory over the Birmingham Barons.
For both Blandino and Castillo, their performances Wednesday were sweet redemption. Castillo was chased after 1.2 innings in his last start and Blandino has been mired in a season-long slump, hitting .195.
But Castillo gave the Blue Wahoos seven strong innings, allowing one run on five hits and walking none. Blandino blasted a solo homer, his first of the season, over the fence in left center.
Pensacola manager Pat Kelly said it was the type of game both players needed.
“(Castillo) had a super slider,” Kelly said. “The best I’ve seen all year.”
He said he thought that Blandino was due for a breakout game. Although, the Pensacola second baseman is now hitting .200 on the season he does have 18 walks this season for an on-base percentage of .419.
“He started slow,” Kelly said. “But last four or five days he has been swinging much better and getting his walks. He just hasn’t gotten his base hits.”
For the Blue Wahoos it was their second walk-off this season, after setting a record 12 last season. Blandino said he is staying positive at the plate with just 81 at bats so far in 26 games.
“The Wahoo Way lives on,” said an excited Blandino after the game. “I’m being aggressive early in the counts and staying with my approach. That’s the key to success over the long haul.”
Pensacola left fielder Tyler Goeddel crushed a lead-off home run to left field to put the Blue Wahoos ahead, 1-0, in the first inning.
In the second inning, Goeddel showed off his arm as well fielding a hit by Birmingham left fielder Courtney Hawkins and gunning down right fielder Mason Robbins at home plate.
But the Blue Wahoos would be shutout by Birmingham starter Jordan Guerrero over the next four innings and by relievers Robinson Leyer and Aaron Bummer over the next three innings. Guerrero was trying to earn his first victory of the season but left with a 1-1 tie after working five innings, allowing five hits, walking three and striking out seven.
“Guerrero has a really good change up and mixes up his delivery,” Kelly said. “He had us off balance.”
Meanwhile, Castillo overcame his last start against the Chattanooga Lookouts when he gave up five runs and lasted 1.2 innings. He threw 38 pitches in the second inning in the cold, dreary weather.
But in Pensacola, the 24-year-old Dominican pitched like the 17th best prospect in the Cincinnati Reds’ organization. Although he has not won a game since April 13, he is 1-2 with a 3.00 ERA.
Pensacola now leads the five-game series against the Barons, 2-1, and improved to 17-16 to tie Mississippi Braves for first place in the South Division.
“It was good to pull out a close game, we ‘ve had a lot of close losses,” Blandino said. “Hopefully, we’ll win the series and keep moving forward.”
The Pensacola Blue Wahoos host the fourth game of the five-game series against the Chicago White Sox Double-A affiliate Birmingham Barons at 6:35 p.m. Thursday, May 11. The Barons are starting RHP Spencer Adams (1-5, 3.65) against the Blue Wahoos RHP Keury Mella (0-3, 4.76 ERA).
The games are broadcast live on the Blue Wahoos flagship station 97.1 The Ticket. Listen for free at bluewahoos.com and by using the TuneIn Radio app on your mobile, desktop or home devices.
BIG FISH Second baseman Alex Blandino had the Blue Wahoos second walk-off of the season with a solo homer to left center. He was 1-3 for the game with a walk, his 18th this year…Left fielder Tyler Goeddel was 2-4 with his first home run for the Blue Wahoos to lead off a game…First baseman Brian O’Grady finished 0-2 but had his team-leading 19th walk of the season.
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