By John Bohnenkamp
Jalen Evans hadn’t pitched in more than a month.
It didn’t seem like much of a problem.
Evans and relievers K.J. Baker and Jackson Gray combined on a one-hitter as the Burlington Bees won, 12-2, over the Clinton LumberKings in Sunday’s game at Community Field.
The Bees (9-7) took a one-game lead in the Prospect League’s West-Great River Division after a win in a game decided by the 10-run rule in the eighth inning.
Evans threw 49 innings in 15 appearances at Texas Wesleyan University this season, with a 4-1 record and a 3.12 earned run average.
Getting some time off helped.
“Just felt good,” said Evans, who joined the team on Friday. “Just tried to get a feel today.”
Evans struck out the first two hitters he faced and faced the minimum in the first three innings.
“He’s got a great arm,” Bees manager Gary McClure said. “He hadn’t pitched in a few weeks, but he commanded it pretty good.”
“Everything felt good,” Evans said. “Fastball felt good. Could work on the command a little bit more. But we’ll get there. Knowing what’s wrong, that’s the first thing. Then we can make adjustments.”
Evans’ only trouble came in the fourth, when he surrendered a two-run home run to Luke Ira. He hit Kyle Lehmann with a pitch with two outs and then walked Dominic Milano, but struck out Jay Beshears to end the inning.
Evans gave up a leadoff walk to Adam Weed in the fifth inning, but retired the next three hitters to end his day.
“He threw all of his pitches for strikes,” McClure said. “He did a good job of getting ahead of all of the hitters, especially the first four innings. It was big for us for him to get through the fifth.”
Baker walked one and struck out three in two innings. Jackson Gray did not allow a hit in his lone inning of work, striking out one.
“A lot of these guys have a lot of potential,” Evans said of the Bees’ pitching staff. “They just need the reps. We’ll get that this summer. It’s only going to get better.”
The Bees built a 7-0 lead through the first two innings, sending nine batters to the plate in both innings. They scored four runs in the seventh inning without a hit, taking advantage of six walks and a hit batter. Jackson Jones’ home run to lead off the eighth inning ended the game.
Bees first baseman Austin Simpson reached base in all five plate appearances, going 3-for-3. Kevin Santiago had a home run and drove in four runs.
The Bees had 13 hits.
“This offense,” Evans said, “is really dynamic.”
Photo: Burlington Bees pitcher Jalen Evans and two relievers combined on a one-hitter in Sunday’s win over the Clinton LumberKings. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)