By John Bohnenkamp
They were back home, facing a team they’ve handled all season.
And suddenly all was right again with the Burlington Bees.
The Bees snapped a four-game losing streak on Saturday night, rolling to a 9-2 win over the Peoria Chiefs in a Class A Midwest League game at Community Field.
A team that struggled with close games in the second half didn’t have to worry about that. The Bees scored four runs in the third inning to take control of the game, then added another four runs in the sixth to answer a Peoria comeback try.
The Bees, 5-11 in the second half, have been just 2-9 in games decided by two runs or less since the All-Star break.
“I think the reality was that we had lost a lot of games, and been walked off a lot,” Bees manager Jack Howell said. “That’s the reality. But the cup half-full was we had been in those games, and could have easily won three or four. You can’t dwell on that, though.”
It helped having the Chiefs (33-52 overall, 3-13 second half) in town — Peoria is now on a seven-game losing streak. Burlington has won seven of the 10 games so far against Peoria, and this one was decided early.
Nonie Williams scored on a passed ball in the first inning for a 1-0 lead.
Then, in the third, the Bees took charge. Spencer Griffin and Harrison Wenson drove in runs with singles, then Connor Fitzsimons delivered a two-run double.
But what pleased Howell was the other four-run inning in the sixth, which came after the Chiefs had scored two runs in the top of the inning and could have had more.
Williams grounded into a fielder’s choice for the first run. Wenson added an RBI single, then Francisco Del Valle drilled a two-run double.
“All those things we’ve talked about, to keep games from being like a 3-2 score and then getting walked off, is to keep adding insurance runs,” Howell said. “We started that little deal again where we scored five and then shut down for a couple (of innings). Then they get it to 5-2, and then we answered.”
The Bees had 14 hits, their highest single-game total of the second half.
“We were fairly patient, and we got the timely hit,” Howell said. “And we got good pitching. That script and that story is never going to change.”
The pitching came from starter Hector Yan (3-2), who struck out nine and allowed just five hits in 5 2/3 innings. Yan, who walked just one, threw 95 pitches, 65 for strikes.
Yan is 2-0 with a 1.23 earned run average in three starts against Peoria this season, striking out 20 in 14 2/3 innings while allowing just six hits.
“He’s seen them a lot,” Howell said. “I liked how he pitched tonight. We got him to 95 pitches, which was good.”
ON DECK: The two teams play the second of a three-game series at 2 p.m. Sunday. Burlington’s Robinson Pina (4-4, 4.20) will face Peoria’s Michael Brittell (2-6, 5.58).
NOTES: Plate umpire Jae-young Kim had to leave the game in the middle of the seventh inning after being hit by a pitch an inning earlier. Base umpire Lance Seilhamer finished the game behind the plate, and was the lone umpire on the field. … Peoria’s Delvin Perez went 2-for-4 to extend his on-base streak to 15 games. … Williams extended his on-base streak to six games.
Photo: Burlington Bees pitcher Hector Yan struck out 9 in shutting down the Peoria Chiefs. Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees