by Hunter Dawkins
For the first time in the 2019 season, the Biloxi Shuckers take the lead in the South division of the Southern league after Saturday night’s 5-2 victory over the Pensacola Wahoos. With the third consecutive win for the Shuckers, a great pitching performance and key offense at the right time helped give Biloxi (37-25) a one game lead the division rival Wahoos (36-26).
Additionally, Biloxi are a half game behind the Montgomery Biscuits (37-24) for the best record in the Southern League.
“Great pitching the last few weeks and we’ve been focusing on getting the playoff spot,” said Shuckers catcher Max McDowell, who knocked in a two run double in the bottom of the eighth inning. In minor league baseball, the team with the best record in their division earns a playoff spot at the all-star break.
Pensacola drew first blood in the contest. Outfielder Jaylin Davis connected for a solo home run off Shuckers starter Johan Belisario (W, 6-0) in the top of the fourth inning, Davis’ ninth of the year, to put the Blue Wahoos up 1-0. Belisario pitched around the Pensacola offense the rest of the night, allowing just five total hits over five innings of work.
In the home half of the fifth, the Shuckers took the lead with some patient at bats. Biloxi infielder C.J. Hinojosa started the inning with a ringing double off the left-field wall before McDowell drew a walk. Luis Aviles Jr. then bunted his way on bases, chasing Blue Wahoos starter Charlie Barnes (L, 0-1) from the game. New hurler Tom Hackimer entered and issued a five-pitch walk to Trent Grisham, forcing in the tying run. Jake Gatewood then worked a seven-pitch walk to bring in the go-ahead run, putting the Shuckers in front 2-1.
Shuckers reliever Nattino Diplan worked one scoreless frame and Marcos Diplan worked into the top of the eighth. Diplan ran into trouble when he walked two batters with two outs in the inning, bringing Luke Barker (S,8) out of the bullpen. The righty struck out both batters he faced, stranding the tying run at second base.
The Shuckers offense gave Barker some breathing room in the bottom of the eighth. Patrick Leonard doubled to start the inning and moved to third on a single by Weston Wilson. Dillon Thomas then hit an automatic double to right, plating Leonard to make it 3-1 Biloxi. Hinojosa was intentionally walked to load the bases, bringing up McDowell, who laced a double to left, driving in two more to put the Shuckers out in front 5-1. Barker came out and finished the game in the ninth, allowing a run after a two-out walk and a double.
Looking to add to their division lead, the Shuckers take on the Blue Wahoos on Sunday afternoon at 2:35 pm. Biloxi will send all-star Trey Supak (7-2, 2.10) to the mound opposite Pensacola Jorge Alcala (5-2, 4.76). It’s Salute Sunday, with $8 Reserved Level tickets and $10 Dugout Box tickets available for active or retired military personnel. Fans can get to the ballpark early for pregame autographs presented by Allegiant Air and stick around after the game for postgame catch on the field. It’s also Ice Princess Night.
Six Biloxi Shuckers have been named to the 2019 Southern League South Division All-Star team, the Southern League announced on Thursday. First baseman Patrick Leonard, third baseman Weston Wilson, shortstop Luis Aviles Jr. and designated hitter Trent Grisham will be part of the South Division offense, while RHP Trey Supak and RHP Nate Griep will be part of the pitching staff for the South. The 2019 Southern League All-Star Game will be played at the Shuckers home, MGM Park, on June 18 at 6:35 pm.
The game can be heard locally in Biloxi on Cruisin’ WGCM AM 1240/100.9 FM, TuneIn Radio or the MiLB First Pitch App and can be seen on MiLB.TV. Fans can save $10 off their subscription when they use the promo code ‘Shuckers’ at checkout.
The Biloxi Shuckers are the Double-A Affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. The Shuckers play at MGM Park in Biloxi, Mississippi and will host the 2019 Southern League All-Star Game on June 18. For more information please visit biloxishuckers.com and follow them on Twitter @biloxishuckers and at facebook.com/biloxishuckers.