Robinson Pina didn’t even make it out of the first inning in his last start.
And the first two Cedar Rapids Kernels hitters in Tuesday’s game against the Burlington Bees looked like they were going to start a repeat performance.
Jacob Pearson singled and then Gabe Snyder followed with another single.
But Pina was going to stick around for a while. He struck out two of the next three hitters he faced, surrounding a force play at second base.
While the Bees couldn’t come up with enough hits in the 3-1 loss in the Class A Midwest League game at Community Field, their pitching — especially Pina’s — proved to be the lone positive of the night.
Pina (4-4) struck out 10 in 4 2/3 innings, staying around a lot longer than his two-thirds of an inning work at Quad Cities last Thursday.
“That’s a nice rebound from his last outing,” Bees manager Jack Howell said. “That was nice to see. That’s part of their development — to learn how to pitch when you don’t have your good stuff. Things kind of escalated on him the last time. Tonight he pounded the (strike) zone. Throwing strikes.
Pina was knocked around in the 10-2 loss to the River Bandits. He gave up three hits and three walks which led to five earned runs. He threw just 31 pitches that night, only 14 for strikes.
On this night, Pina would last through 73 pitches, and 53 of those were for strikes.
“That’s the difference,” Howell said. “You’ve got to make those pitches when you need them.”
Pina didn’t give up a run until the fifth. Snyder’s single scored Estamy Urena to tie the game, then Snyder scored on an error.
That was more than enough for the Kernels, who held the Bees to just four singles, two by leadoff hitter Jordyn Adams.
“One run on four hits isn’t going to cut it,” Howell said.
The Bees’ lone run came in the second. Catcher Harrison Wenson was hit by a pitch with one out. He then stole second, moved to third on a throwing error, and scored on a wild pitch.
The other two hits for Burlington came at the bottom of the batting order. Alvaro Rubalcaba, batting ninth, had a bunt single in the third inning. Justin Jones, batting eighth, had a sharp single in the fifth.
Austin Schulfer (6-4), who combined to no-hit the Bees in the second game of a doubleheader in May, allowed three of the four hits in this game. He struck out eight.
Schulfer is 3-0 in three starts against the Bees this season, allowing 10 hits in 18 innings while striking out 26.
The Bees fell to 4-8 in the second half.
ON DECK: The two teams have a 6:30 p.m. game Wednesday. Burlington’s Cole Duensing (5-4, 4.48) will face Cedar Rapids’ Tyler Palm (1-4, 4.73).
NOTES: Adams went 2-for-4 after going 0-for-20 in his last five games. He is batting .378 against the Kernels this season. … Cedar Rapids leads the season series, 7-4. … Attendance was 562.
Photo: Robinson Pina delivers a pitch in the first inning of Tuesday’s game. Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees