By John Bohnenkamp
There were a lot of opportunities for the Burlington Bees to clear the traffic jam on the bases Wednesday night.
The big hits came too late.
The Bees left 15 baserunners — 13 in the first five innings — in a 7-5 loss to the Cape Catfish in a Prospect League game at Community Field.
Burlington (12-11) fell to a half-game behind the Normal CornBelters in the West-Great River Division.
The Bees left the bases loaded in the first, second and fifth innings, and runners in scoring position in the third and fourth innings.
“You just shoot yourself in the foot when you do that,” Bees manager Gary McClure said.
The Catfish (13-11) scored five runs in the sixth inning, helped by two Burlington errors, then held on as the Bees got a two-run home run from Kevin Santiago in the sixth and a run-scoring double from Mason Land in the seventh.
McClure would have taken anything, a hit or a productive out, in those early innings.
The two errors in the sixth — Mason Land threw wildly trying to turn a double play, then Austin Simpson had a throwing error on a play at first — proved costly as well.
“We had the double-play ball, and then we threw the ball away at first,” McClure said. “We didn’t make two plays in a row and it killed us. You’ve got to make the plays. This is not Little League, you’ve got to make the routine plays. If you don’t turn the double play, it haunts you every time.
“We beat ourselves defensively is what we did. And we weren’t productive with guys in scoring position early in the ballgame.”
Andrew Long (0-2) was the losing pitcher, charged with four runs over five innings.
“He pitched well enough — he should have had a big lead when he left the game,” McClure said. “Long threw very well, was very efficient, almost got through six innings.”
Chad Donze (1-1) was credited with the win in relief.
EJECTION: McClure was ejected in the ninth inning by plate umpire Josh Barnes after an 0-1 pitch from reliever Grady Gorgen to Cape’s Andrew Stone was called a ball.
McClure came out of the dugout to argue with Barnes, then after he was ejected McClure covered home plate in dirt as the crowd cheered.
“I’d had enough at that point, for sure,” McClure said. “It wasn’t the greatest game called behind the plate.”
TOP OF THE ORDER PRODUCTION: Bees leadoff man Reid Halfacre had three hits and scored twice. Land also reached base three times.
UP NEXT: The Bees and Catfish conclude their two-game series with a 6:30 p.m. game Thursday. Bees starter Chas Sagedahl (0-0) will face Cape’s Jalen Borders (1-2).
Photo: Burlington’s Marcos Sanchez bunts for a hit in the third inning of Wednesday’s game against the Cape Catfish. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)