By John Bohnenkamp
Justin Jones’ ninth-inning at-bat was a perfect example of how things didn’t go right for the Burlington Bees to begin their final homestand of the Class A Midwest League season.
The 2-1 loss to the Beloit Snappers on Saturday night at Community Field was another struggle offensively for the Bees (63-68 overall, 24-37 second half). Burlington had just four hits and went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, a continuing story throughout the second half.
“You’re not going to win games on one run and (four) hits,” Bees manager Jack Howell said.
The Bees left runners in scoring position in four innings, including the ninth.
Francisco Del Valle opened the inning with a double, then Jones put together a nine-pitch at-bat that showed just how things were working against the Bees.
Jones pounded the eighth pitch of the at-bat down the left-field line. It looked, for a few seconds, like it was going to be a possible game-winning home run, at the very least an extra-base hit to tie the game. Instead it hooked foul, hitting off the top of the Bees’ bullpen bench as Beloit left fielder Michael Woodworth tried to chase down the fly ball.
On the next pitch, Jones hit a sharp grounder to shortstop Max Schuemann, whose throw to first base sailed to the left of first baseman Santis Sanchez, and also right into the path of Jones. Sanchez lunged for the throw, then tagged out Jones. Beloit reliever Calvin Coker finished his third save by striking out Harrison Wenson and Ryan Vega.
“But that shows the value of putting the ball in play,” Howell said. “(Jones) almost gets enough of it to get it out of here. Then on the grounder, it almost becomes an error.”
The Bees had 14 strikeouts. They had at least one strikeout with runners on base in three of the four innings in which they left runners in scoring position.
Beloit broke a ninth-inning tie on Nick Ward’s two-out single off Bees reliever Chad Sykes (0-1) that scored Devin Foyle.
Bees starter Keith Rogalla had his longest outing of the season in his return from elbow surgery that ended last season. Rogalla went five innings, allowed four hits, and struck out six.
“We got him up for the fifth inning, which we haven’t done this season,” Howell said. “We wanted to get him to at least 75 pitches, and he threw 79 and really didn’t struggle.”
Beloit took a 1-0 lead in the fourth on Skyler Weber’s two-out double that scored Anthony Churlin. The Bees tied the game in the fifth on back-to-back doubles by Wenson and Vega.
“It was kind of a dead team for both games,” Howell said.
NOTES: Bees outfielder Nonie Williams extended his on-base streak to 14 games with a fourth-inning walk. … Vega had two of the Bees’ four hits. … Attendance was 1,224.