Photo: Clayton Chatham allowed one run over six innings for the win on Saturday night. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)
By John Bohnenkamp
The previous night’s starter didn’t get out of the first inning, and things had gotten to the point that two position players had to pitch the ninth inning.
That meant, for the Burlington Bees on Saturday night, they were going to need innings from as few pitchers as possible.
Clayton Chatham and Ed Del Rosario did that, combining on a six-hitter as the Bees downed the Kane County Cougars, 2-1, at Community Field.
Chatham pitched six innings, the longest outing of his professional career, allowing just five hits and a walk while striking out eight. Del Rosario took over, striking out seven over three innings.
“Besides a starter, we also saved a reliever arm,” Bees manager Jack Howell said. “You never want to say you’re back to square one, but today picked us up a lot.”
It was the first professional win for Chatham (1-2), signed by the Los Angeles Angels as a free agent last summer.
“It’s just really awesome to help the team out, especially when we’ve been struggling lately,” Chatham said. “It was a good team win.”
The Bees (56-62) had to go deep into the bullpen in Friday’s 7-2 loss to Wisconsin, when Robinson Pina came out after only two-thirds of an inning. They used three relievers — Parker Joe Robinson, Chad Sykes and Greg Veliz. In the ninth inning, designated hitter Connor Fitzsimons came in and threw one pitch before leaving with an injury that landed him on the injured list on Saturday. Outfielder Rayneldy Rosario finished the game.
The best-case scenario for Saturday was for Chatham to go as long as possible, even if that wasn’t stated directly to him.
“There was no expectation, which really helped out,” Chatham said. “There was no pressure. Just go out there and do a good job.”
“I didn’t really say anything,” Howell said. “Just talked about the process of development — go out and make first-pitch strikes.”
Chatham threw 92 pitches, 61 for strikes. It was the most pitches he had thrown this season, although he had been in the 80s with his pitch count in his last three starts.
“It was kind of touch-and-feel,” Chatham said. “And then I threw one good curveball, and it all kind of clicked. I pitched well with that tonight.”
Photo: Ed Del Rosario pitched three scoreless innings for his second save of the season. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)
Del Rosario then finished the game, allowing one hit and one walk. He struck out the side in a perfect ninth to gain his second save of the season.
Del Rosario threw 46 pitches. He faced just 11 batters.
“He was pitching well,” Howell said, noting that reliever Mayky Perez was ready in the bullpen. “If he can finish it out, that’s another arm we can save.”
Justin Jones’ two-run home run in the second inning was all the Bees needed on offense.
Luis Frias (1-1) was the losing pitcher.