TIMBER RATTLERS 1, BEES 0: A nine-inning high-wire act

Photo: Bees pitcher Hector Yan (left) steps on first base to get Wisconsin’s Antonio Piñero in the fourth inning. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

By John Bohnenkamp

It was an exhibition of tightrope walking, with two starting pitchers and five relievers trying to stay balanced.

The one slip came from the Burlington Bees.

The Bees’ 1-0 loss to the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers on Thursday night at Community Field was a nine-inning revolving door, pitchers in and out of trouble, the big hit lacking.

It was a game that left the losing manager impressed at the escapes.

“It was all good,” Bees manager Jack Howell said. “Great pitching — guys made pitches when they had to. We just didn’t get the hits at the right time.”

The lone run came in the second inning, when Wisconsin’s L.G. Castillo led off with a double and scored on Chad McClanahan’s single.

And that was it. Four Wisconsin pitchers combined on the five-hit shutout, getting out of potential scoring situations in four of the last five innings.

The Bees’ pitching was just as impressive. Starter Hector Yan (4-4) struck out 10 in five innings, allowing four hits. Luis Ramirez and Dylan Clark closed the game with four scoreless innings, leaving Timber Rattlers in scoring position in all of those innings.

“They snuck the one across early on Yan, and we shut them down from there,” Howell said. “Unfortunately, we just didn’t get that big hit.”

Wisconsin batters were 1-of-13 with runners in scoring position, and the Timber Rattlers left 11 men on base.

The Bees were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position, leaving five runners on base while also grounding into two double plays.

“It’s about making contact, having good at-bats,” Howell said. “That’s one of the things that I think you have to learn at this level — early in the game, you’re wanting to do damage. Later on, you want to shorten your swing, make good contact.”

Yan continued his season of mastery, allowing four hits and walking one. He threw 89 pitches, 62 for strikes.

Ramirez pitched out of a bases-loaded-no-outs situation in the sixth. In the seventh, he gave up a one-out single to Korry Howell, who advanced to second on a wild pitch. Another wild pitch moved Howell to third, but he wanted more, trying to score as the ball rolled toward the Bees’ dugout. But catcher Harrison Wenson grabbed the ball and fired back to Ramirez covering at the plate, and he tagged Howell out for the second out of the inning. David Fry then walked, but Ramirez picked him off at first to end the inning.

Two innings were especially frustrating for the Bees.

Kevin Maitan tripled to lead off the seventh, one of his three hits in the game. But he was left stranded at third as Adrian Rondon grounded out and then Francisco Del Valle and Nonie Williams struck out.

Maitan and Rondon had back-to-back singles to open the ninth. Del Valle struck out, then Williams hit a hard grounder that was fielded by Fry at third. The Timber Rattlers turned the game-ending double play, catching Williams by a half-step at first.

Luis Contreras (1-1) was the winning pitcher. Victor Castañeda got his sixth save.

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