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Late Pensacola rally sinks Trash Pandas in 4-3 loss

PENSACOLA, Florida – The Rocket City Trash Pandas were unable to hold a ninth inning lead as the Pensacola Blue Wahoos scored three runs for a 4-3 walk-off win on Thursday night at Blue Wahoos Stadium.

The Trash Pandas turned to Oliver Ortega to protect a 3-1 lead in the ninth. A walk and a single to start the inning put the tying runs on base for the Blue Wahoos. Connor Justus then lined a double into the left field corner to tie the game 3-3. The next hitter, Devin Hairston, bunted Justus over to third. But the throw to first got away and the Trash Pandas were able to recover and throw Justus out at home plate as the winning run. However, Nick Lovullo doubled to left, scoring Hairston with the winning run for the home team.

The ballgame began better than it ended for Rocket City.

The Trash Pandas were quick to break the scoreless tie in the top of the second. David MacKinnon led off the frame with a double off the left field wall. Gavin Cecchini followed with a single to left, scoring MacKinnon with the first run of the night. Two hitters later, Ibandel Isabel laced a double into the left field corner for the second Rocket City run. Isabel came home to score on a sacrifice fly from Matt Jones to give the Trash Pandas a 3-0 lead.

Rocket City starter Jhonathan Diaz was able to make that lead stand up for the duration of his outing. For the first three innings, the southpaw was able to hold the Blue Wahoos hitless.

In the fourth, Diaz worked around a single and a walk to keep the Trash Pandas ahead by three. An inning later, Diaz gave up back-to-back singles to start the fifth. But a double play ground out from JJ Bleday limited the damage to just one run to end the start for Diaz.

Over 5.0 innings, Diaz gave up one run on four hits with two walks and four strikeouts. He didn’t factor in the decision. In relief, Keith Rogalla pitched 3.0 scoreless innings with four strikeouts of his own to hold the lead. But Ortega (L, 0-1) failed to lock down the save in the ninth.

Offensively, the Trash Pandas were held to four hits for the second consecutive game. Torii Hunter Jr. recorded his team-leading fourth save of the season in the loss.

The Trash Pandas (8-7) and Blue Wahoos (8-7) continue their series on Friday night. First pitch from Blue Wahoos Stadium is set for 6:35 p.m. Josh Caray will be on the call for 103.9 FM THE UMP and 730 AM SportsRadio.

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