Photo: Burlington Bees second baseman Livan Soto (middle) is splashed with water after delivering the game-winning sacrifice fly in Monday’s 1-0 win over Beloit. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)
By John Bohnenkamp
Livan Soto did what he needed to do, and then celebrated again.
As Soto’s fly ball drifted into center field with the bases loaded in the 10th inning of Monday’s game against the Beloit Snappers, the Burlington Bees second baseman raised his arms to celebrate.
Then, as Ryan Vega scored the lone, and winning, run in the 1-0 10th-inning victory, Soto windmilled his helmet four times before throwing it into the air.
It was nearly a repeat of Sunday’s celebration, when Soto singled almost to the exact same spot in the outfield to bring in the winning run in a 3-2 victory.
The Bees (65-68) are having fun in the final days of the Class A Midwest League season, although they’ve been caught up in close games on this last homestand. All three games against the Snappers have been decided by one run, and the two teams have combined for nine runs in the first three games of this four-game series.
“Obviously, it would be fun to see everybody hitting and scoring runs and high-fiving and everything,” Bees manager Jack Howell said. “But if it’s going to be close games like this, with great pitching, I like to see us come out and walking people off.”
Soto drove in Rosario with the winning run on Sunday, and they were in the mix of this victory.
Ryan Vega started on second base in the bottom of the 10th under Minor League Baseball’s extra-inning rules. Rosario then slapped a grounder up the middle, beating the throw to first for an infield single.
Howell thought about having Rosario try to bunt Vega to third.
“I told him, ‘You do whatever you have to do to get him over,'” Howell said.
Beloit then intentionally walked Alvaro Rubalcaba to load the bases, then Soto hit his fly ball.
“Both guys were instrumental both nights,” Howell said. “That was fun to see.”
It was another night of strong pitching by the Bees. Starter Clayton Chatham struck out eight and allowed two hits over five innings. Reliever Luis Ramirez threw just 21 pitches over three innings, 19 for strikes. Greg Veliz (2-1) walked one and struck out two over the final two innings.
“Everybody was great,” Howell said.
The Bees had just four hits, all singles.