Photo: The scoreboard tells the story as Bees pitchers (from left) Parker Joe Robinson, Jose Soriano, Hector Yan and Chad Sykes combined on a no-hitter in Tuesday’s 1-0 win over the Beloit Snappers at Community Field. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)
By John Bohnenkamp
The four pitchers who had spun 10 innings of silence watched from the third-base dugout.
And when Livan Soto raced to home plate carrying victory, the pitchers — starter Jose Soriano and relievers Parker Joe Robinson, Hector Yan and Chad Sykes — sprinted to the field to celebrate the third consecutive walk-off win for the Burlington Bees.
History had visited Community Field in the final week of the Class A Midwest League season.
The four pitchers combined for a no-hitter as the Bees walked away with a 1-0 triumph over the Beloit Snappers on Tuesday night.
“I’m going to remember this game,” said Sykes, who threw the final two innings. “Probably forever.”
It was the first no-hitter for the Bees since Danny Duffy and Juan Abreu combined to no-hit Peoria on Aug. 7, 2008. It was the fifth no-hitter in the league this season, the first extra-inning no-hitter in the league in 14 seasons.
Soriano threw 3 ⅔ innings. Robinson provided a bridge of 1 ⅓ perfect innings. Yan delivered three innings of handcuffs. Sykes got the game to the 10th, and pitched through that runner-on-second-to-start-every-extra-inning rule in the lower levels of Minor League Baseball that the Bees know all too well.
Then in the bottom of the 10th, with Soto — who had driven in the winning runs in the previous two nights — on second, Williams smacked the first pitch he saw from Beloit reliever Richard Guasch (0-3) into left-center field. Soto cruised to complete the win, doing a quick left turn after touching the plate to race to the celebration by second base.
It was the 10th win in 14 extra-inning games for the Bees this season, the most in the league.
There will be no postseason for the Bees — they missed out on a first-half Western Division playoff spot because of the tiebreaker with Cedar Rapids, and their second-half hopes sputtered with three losses to open the half and then were shoveled under with a nine-game losing streak in early August.
They will go into the offseason after Monday’s game at Kane County, but they aren’t leaving quietly.
That’s something that has impressed Bees manager Jack Howell, who could hear the noise in the dugout after the top of the ninth inning, and again after the top of the 10th.
“We had gotten the no-hitter. It fired everyone up,” Howell said. “It was like, ‘We’ve got the no-hitter, now let’s go win this dadgum game.’ That’s how I was taking it. ‘We’ve done this, now let’s finish it.’
“There’s just going to be a natural letdown (not making the playoffs). There’s a countdown — seven days, six days, five days. ‘In six days I’m going to be home.’”
“Cheering like that, hearing that, the fact that we’ve walked them off three times in a row, says there’s something in there,” Howell said, patting his chest. “That you want to finish strong.”
“We’re out of the playoffs, so we just want to win and have fun,” Williams said. “That’s what tonight was about.”
“We’ve had a good little mojo going the last few days, with the walk-off streak,” Robinson said. “We’re trying to finish the year on a good note. Leave a good taste in our mouths.”
Robinson couldn’t stop smiling.
“Fun game,” he said.
Photo: Hector Yan jumps on Nonie Williams’ back in the post-game celebration. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)
The game was going to be a piggyback of Soriano and Yan, two of the top pitchers in the Los Angeles Angels’ organization.
“Whenever you have Soriano and Yan lined up for a tandem, there’s always a chance something crazy is going to happen,” Bees pitching coach Jonathan Van Eaton said. “But you never expect something like this to happen.”
Soriano, making his second start for the Bees since coming off the injured list, walked five and struck out four. He left runners stranded on second base in the second and third innings, then his night was done when the Snappers loaded the bases with three walks in the fourth.
“I felt incredible,” Soriano said through a translator. “I haven’t felt like that in a long time. I felt like I could throw any pitch.”
Soriano had a feeling about the outcome.
“I felt like they weren’t going to hit us, at all,” Soriano said.
He was right.
Robinson pitched out of the fourth by getting Joseph Pena on a popup in foul territory, then pitched a perfect fifth inning.
“I didn’t even think about the no-hitter at that point,” Robinson said. “Once I came out of the game, you look at the scoreboard and you’re like, ‘Oh, wow, this could happen.’”
Yan took over. He walked one and struck out two, boosting his league-leading strikeout total to 144.
This was nothing new for Yan. He threw five no-hit innings in a game at Peoria on June 15, a no-hitter that was lost with a single with two outs in the ninth inning. He then threw 6 ⅓ no-hit innings in a home game against Kane County on June 20 — a no-hitter, and a game, that was lost with two hits in the ninth.
“It feels incredible,” Yan said through a translator. “I was involved in one in Peoria a couple of months ago, and we couldn’t get it. It feels good to accomplish that.
“I knew about the moment. All I was saying to myself was, ‘Don’t be the one who allows a hit.’”
Sykes (1-1) pitched a perfect ninth, striking out the first two hitters he faced.
The no-hitter was complete, provided the Bees could get a run in the bottom of the inning.
Keinner Pina, who had two of the Bees’ three hits, singled to open the inning. Rayneldy Rosario slapped a line drive up the middle, but Guasch made the catch and threw to first to get Pina for a double play.
Then came a nervous 10th.
Skyler Weber started the inning on second for Beloit. He moved to third on Nick Ward’s sacrifice bunt. Santis Sanchez followed with a hard grounder that was stopped by Bees third baseman Kevin Maitan, who threw out Sanchez at first. Sykes walked Pena, then got Michael Woodworth on a grounder to first to end the inning.
“I honestly didn’t think about any of the things going on,” Sykes said. “I was just focused on making pitches, and guys behind me made plays. Maitan made a couple of great plays.”
“Being honest, one of the things running through my head was this thought, ‘This isn’t going to be 10 innings of no-hit baseball, and we lose 1-0,’” Howell said. “Passed ball, they go to third, get a sacrifice fly, something like that.”
He exhaled at the thought.
“That’s why when we got out of that inning, it felt like a monkey off the back,” Howell said.
The four pitchers threw 150 pitches, 92 for strikes, all a perfect weave.
In the frantic moments at the end, the game ball rolled toward Van Eaton. He picked it up and gave it to Pina, who caught those pitches.
“He did outstanding,” Van Eaton said.
Williams provided the finish.
“We finally made it,” Soriano said.
“I was thinking about celebrating,” Yan said.
“I wanted to see a pitch, put it in play, not try to do too much,” Williams said. “Just put in the right spot. Soto made it home.
“It was a fun night.”