UPDATE (6:15 p.m.): The Pensacola Blue Wahoos have arrived at Blue Wahoos Stadium with the Southern League Championship trophy.

PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — The Pensacola Blue Wahoos are Southern League Champions after coming back and finishing strong against the Tennessee Smokies Thursday night, 11-4.

The turning point for the Blue Wahoos was in the fifth inning when infielder Cobie Fletcher-Vance hit a go-ahead grand slam.

“Man, it’s crazy, because it’s the first time I have ever been on a championship team… pro ball, college, high school, so this is super exciting,” said Fletcher-Vance, who also had a run-scoring single to finish a five RBI night. “We won the championship! We did it!”

Blue Wahoos infielder Cobie Fletcher-Vance hit a grand-slam in the fifth inning. (Photo by Daniel Venn)

They grew a 6-3 lead with a four-run seventh inning. The first five batters reached on hits, including Fletcher-Vance who drove in his fifth run in the game with a bases-loaded single. Pinch-hitter J.D. Osborne followed with a two-run double. The fourth run scored when reliever Riley Martin failed to catch a throw from his catcher Harrison Wenson after a pitch.

The Blue Wahoos won twice on the road at Smokies Stadium in Kodak, Tennessee after losing Sunday’s first game 4-1. In the playoffs, the Blue Wahoos twice won best-of-three series after dropping the first game. They forced a deciding game against the Montgomery Biscuits in the South Division series, after trailing 5-0 at one point. They won the deciding game 1-0 on a game-saving catch from centerfielder Thomas Jones at Blue Wahoos Stadium.

“To win the last game of the season is always a great thing to accomplish,” said manager Kevin Randel, who has now won a championship in the Marlins organization as a player, assistant coach and manager. “These guys never gave in. You preach to these guys 27 outs, play every single out. We had some great at-bats throughout. It was a memorable series.”

Randel said Fletcher-Vance’s grand slam sealed the deal for the Blue Wahoos.

“Everybody was going crazy, that’s for sure,” said Randel. “He had a first pitch breaking ball, and he was on it. He had a big hit (Tuesday) with a two-RBI single on a breaking ball. He was looking for it, got it and put a good swing on it.”

Champagne showers were held in the locker room after the championship win. (Photo by Daniel Venn)

In their second year as the Miami Marlins’ Double-A affiliate, the Blue Wahoos delivered the first championship by a Marlins minor league team since 2014 when Jacksonville won the Southern League. The Marlins had their three top minor league executives, led by director Geoff DeGroot, attending the game. Pensacola was the only affiliate to reach the postseason.

The Blue Wahoos were Southern League co-champions in 2017 with the Chattanooga Lookouts, after the league opted to cancel the championship series due to concern with a hurricane approaching from the Gulf of Mexico.

The team is currently on the way back home to Pensacola and will greet fans at the Blue Wahoos Stadium at 5:30 p.m. CT.

Blue Wahoos in the Post Season

  • 2015 Lost South Division Series 0-3 vs. Biloxi Shuckers
  • 2016 Lost South Division Series 1-3 vs. Mississippi Braves
  • 2017 Won Southern League Co-Championship 3-0 vs. Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp
  • 2018 Lost South Division Series 1-3 vs. Biloxi Shuckers
  • 2019 Lost South Division Series 2-3 vs. Biloxi Shuckers
  • 2021 Won South Division Series 2-1 vs. Montgomery Biscuits, Won Southern League Championship Series 2-1 vs. Tennessee Smokies.

What’s next?

Move ahead: 2023 Season Opener

Who: Blue Wahoos vs. Montgomery Biscuits

When: April 7, 2023

Where: Blue Wahoos Stadium

Tickets: Season Tickets For 2023 Season: www.bluewahoos.com/tickets.

Schedule: The 2023 schedule will closely resemble this season with Blue Wahoos playing 69 home games with Mondays as the off-day each week.

This is the team’s first solo championship. (Photo by Daniel Venn)