BEES 5, CHIEFS 3: Pina’s hit snaps Burlington out of baserunning funk

By John Bohnenkamp

For a while, it looked like the Burlington Bees were going to run themselves out of a chance to win.

Mistakes on the bases, combined with some unusual double plays, caused problems early.

But a three-run seventh inning, sparked by Keinner Pina’s two-run single, carried the Bees to a 5-3 victory over the Peoria Chiefs on Sunday afternoon at Community Field.

Burlington (45-42 overall in Midwest League, 6-11 second half) has won back-to-back games after a four-game losing streak. It’s helped that the Bees are playing the Chiefs (33-53, 3-14) — Burlington has won eight of the 11 games between the two teams this season.

The Bees, though, almost ran themselves out of this game, squandering numerous opportunities before the seventh inning. They had baserunners in every inning, but hit into three double plays, had one runner thrown out trying to go from second to third, and had another runner thrown out at the plate.

“As the game went on, you started thinking of the game as a whole,” Bees manager Jack Howell said. “At that point, I thought the key was big baserunning mistakes.”

Two of the double plays happened on ground balls to Peoria third baseman Josh Shaw, who made wise plays to get the Chiefs out of two scoring threats.

The Bees’ first two batters of the game — Jordyn Adams and Kevin Maitan — singled. Nonie Williams followed with a slow grounder to third that, on a lot of occasions, would have been an infield hit. But it was in a perfect spot for Shaw, who stepped on the base for the force out, then threw to first to complete the double play.

In the sixth, Francisco Del Valle led off with a walk and moved to second on a wild pitch. Connor Fitzsimons followed with a ground ball to shortstop Delvin Perez, who threw to third base to get Del Valle. Fitzsimons then advanced to third on an errant pickoff throw.

Justin Jones followed with a hard grounder to Shaw, who was guarding the line. Fitzsimons had nowhere to go, and was tagged out by Shaw, who then threw to first to finish another double play.

At that point, the Bees trailed 3-2 despite having runners in scoring position in every inning, including Maitan, who was thrown out trying to score on Pina’s two-out single in the fifth inning.

The fortunes changed in the seventh when, with the bases loaded, Pina lined a single into left field. Morgan McCullough scored to tie the game, then Adams slid in behind him to beat the throw home. Del Valle then delivered a double to right field to score Williams.

“Pitching was good to that point. I thought, with the hitters, we had made some good decisions,” Howell said. “We had just made some mistakes on the bases. Then Pina comes up with the big hit.”

Parker Joe Robinson (1-0) was the winning pitcher in relief, allowing one hit in three innings. Mayky Perez picked up his third save, walking Brandon Riley with one out in the ninth before getting Alexis Wilson to ground into a double play to end the game.

Rodard Avelino (0-1) was the losing pitcher.

The Bees had 11 hits. Adams, who came into the game with four hits in 39 at-bats in his previous 10 games, reached base five times on two singles, a double, and two walks.

“That was good to see,” Howell said. “He’s hit the ball hard at times, just right at somebody.”

ON DECK: The two teams conclude their three-game series with Monday’s 6:30 p.m. game. Cole Duensing (5-4, 4.14 ERA) will be the starting pitcher for Burlington.

NOTES: Perez, who went 3-for-4, has now reached base in 16 consecutive games, tied for the second-longest current active streak in the league. … Williams has reached base in seven consecutive games. … Jones has a seven-game home hitting streak.

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