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Pitching Rules With Mitchell, Simpson, As Blue Wahoos Claim Fourth Win Against Smokies 

Former MLB veteran Bryan Mitchell had his longest start since 2018 in leading Blue Wahoos win.Friday against Smokies.
June 18, 2022

The capacity crowd at Blue Wahoos Stadium stirred to its feet for a final time, sensing the moment with rhythmic clapping. Josh Simpson stared straight ahead from the mound, then delivered the dagger with another unhittable curve ball for the final strikeout and resounding roar around the ballpark. Amid a

The capacity crowd at Blue Wahoos Stadium stirred to its feet for a final time, sensing the moment with rhythmic clapping.

Josh Simpson stared straight ahead from the mound, then delivered the dagger with another unhittable curve ball for the final strikeout and resounding roar around the ballpark.

Amid a sauna-like setting, the Blue Wahoos were led by starter Bryan Mitchell’s best outing since 2018, back when he was in the Major Leagues, then two flawless innings from Simpson in a 3-1 victory Friday night and fourth consecutive win against the Tennessee Smokies.

“It is pretty awesome,” said Simpson, who has shined in his move from middle-reliever to closer, recording three strikeouts in the ninth inning Friday for his second save. “Playing around this league for the first half, you are not going to find a better place to play than Pensacola. Our fans are number one in every way. it is a pretty cool feeling being out there for the ninth.”

That stage was set up by Mitchell, 31, the Blue Wahoos oldest player and most-tenured MLB veteran. Mitchell, a lefthander, pitched in 66 major league games, including four seasons with the New York Yankees.

Making his third start since joining the Blue Wahoos – a stop that his hoped to be his comeback bid --- Mitchell worked seven complete innings, scattering five hits and striking out seven batters.

“I needed this to be honest,” said Mitchell, after earning his first win for the Blue Wahoos. “I’ve had stretches of good in my last couple outings, but not able to string it together. We had a plan to mix (pitches), and the fact I was able to execute it during the game, was a big confidence builder for me and it’s definitely something to build on.”

After two nights of walk-off wins and marathon games, the Blue Wahoos thrived in a pitching-and-defense showcase on both sides. The game was completed in 2-hours, eight minutes – not quite like Tuesday’s fastest home game (1 hour, 55 minutes) in team history when Simpson also recorded a save – but ended with the same good vibe.

“It’s fun when both pitchers are rolling like that,” Mitchell said. “You kinda get into a groove. Definitely fun to be part of a game like that.”

In winning a game like that, the Blue Wahoos (31-24) remained 4.5 games up on the Biloxi Shuckers in the first-half division chase. There are now eight games left, including the final two games of Pensacola’s homestand with Tennessee on Saturday and Sunday.

With the Montgomery Biscuits and Mississippi Braves both losing Friday to fall seven games back, it’s now essentially just the Shuckers in the Blue Wahoos’ rear-view mirror.

“You try not to look ahead, but at same time when we show up every day we are expecting to win,” Mitchell said.

The Blue Wahoos broke through Smokies’ starter Javier Assad to score the game’s first run in the sixth inning on Bubba Hollins’ run-scoring single. J.D. Orr led off the inning with a single, then stole second and went to third on a throwing error.

After the Smokies tied the game in the seventh inning on Alexander Canario’s homer into the right field berm, the Blue Wahoos responded in the bottom of the inning with Griffin Conine’s no-doubt bomb that followed catcher Paul McIntosh reaching base on a walk.

From that point, Simpson took over, striking out five of the seven batters he faced in the two innings.

“His curveball is really, really good and he’s got (velocity) to go with it,” Mitchell said. “I was not worried about him coming in behind me, and shutting it down. He has electric stuff for sure and he’s confident out there.”

Simpson, 24, a Connecticut native and Columbia University graduate, had a couple rough outings a few weeks ago, but has settled into a special groove right now.

“When I was younger, being a lefty I was always undersized and not going to dominate guys with the heater (fastball), so I relied on my off-speed stuff and that just stuck with me and blossomed into the pitch it is now,” he said.

GAME NOTABLES

--- On Giveaway Friday, "Downtown Dave" was a hit. A Bobblehead featuring a striking likeness of ultra-popular on field emcee Dave Presnell was handed to the first 1,000 fans through the gates. The item lasted 16 minutes before all were distributed. Prior to gates opening, Downtown Dave visited with fans waiting outside and high-fived along the way.

--- There were a multitude of groups in attendance Friday led by Velocity Restorations which had the entire Winn Dixie Party Deck and its 200 seat capacity filled up.

--- After the previous two games, both walk-off wins in extra innings, lasted a combined 7 hours, 29 minutes, Friday night's game breezed through in 2 hours 8 minutes.

BLUE WAHOOS WEEKEND

WHO: Tennessee Smokies vs. Blue Wahoos.

WHEN: Saturday and Sunday.

WHERE: Blue Wahoos Stadium.

GAMETIMES: Saturday's game is 6:05 p.m. start, then 4:05 p.m. on Sunday.

TICKETS: Online at www.bluewahoos.com/tickets. Box office opens at 10 am on Monday through Friday, 11 a.m on Saturday and Noon on Sunday.

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.

PROMOTIONS: On Saturday, post-game fireworks will follow and fans are encouraged to “Dress Like A Dad” in honor of Father’s Day.

On Father’s Day Sunday, the Blue Wahoos will wear specialty uniforms in honor of Gen. Chappie James, a Pensacola native who became the first four-star general in U.S. Armed Forces history. There will also be Family Sunday with kids able to run the bases and family toss in outfield.