By John Bohnenkamp
Jalen Evans wished there wasn’t a pitch count in the Prospect League.
Evans allowed three hits in seven crisp innings in the Burlington Bees’ 11-5 win over the Clinton LumberKings on Friday night.
Evans threw 92 pitches, 51 for strikes. The league’s pitch limit is 95 pitches, but Evans thought he could have gone longer.
“I felt pretty good,” he said.
Evans (2-0) lowered his earned run average to 2.28 in four starts. He has allowed just 14 hits in 23 2/3 innings, striking out 24.
“He’s got a great fastball, he throws a great slider,” Bees manager Gary McClure said. “When he pitches ahead in the count, he’s dominating.”
The only run off Evans came in the third inning, when Bryce Dreher singled to drive in Brayden Frazier. Evans faced the minimum in the final four innings — the only baserunner was Frazier in the fifth, when he walked and then was thrown out trying to steal second base to end the inning.
“I was trying to be aggressive in the (strike) zone,” Evans said. “The pitch count was getting a little behind, but I was just trying to find the feel.”
Evans is a fast worker, and he made quick work of the LumberKings.
“I know tempo is a big thing,” he said. “Just not giving hitters a chance to think, and just feeding off that momentum. It works for me, so I keep going with it.”
“He goes at guys,” McClure said. “He’s got more of a reliever’s mentality, to be honest. He gets it, and goes.”
Evans was helped by three home runs — solo shots by Marcos Sanchez in the second inning and Kevin Santiago in the fourth. Lincoln Riley added a two-run home run in the sixth.
“We definitely hit the long ball, and they were all pretty doggone good,” McClure said. “Marcos, I think he hit over the house (behind the right-field fence). Kevin’s was long, too.”
“Those were really big,” Evans said. “That gives you a lot more confidence. But at the same time, I keep the same mentality, like it’s a 0-0 ballgame, to try to keep my going.”
The Bees (17-15 overall, 2-1 second half) then scored six runs in the bottom of the seventh without a hit. Three Clinton relievers combined for six walks and three hit batters.
“It’s not really a lot of fun for anybody,” McClure said of the inning. “It’s a lot more fun on our side scoring runs. It’s not a lot of fun for anybody when guys are walking the park. And they did there in that inning.”
Clinton (12-19, 0-2) got four runs in the eighth inning on just one hit, sending nine batters to the plate.
Matt Scherman (3-2) was the losing pitcher.
STREAKING: Riley went 2-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to seven games. Riley is hitting .313 for the season, .393 during the streak. “He’s been good,” McClure said. “He’s a guy who gets on base, but he does other things, too. He drives in runs — he’s hitting unbelievable with guys in scoring position. He’s an unbelievable player. Plus, he plays an unbelievable center field — he goes and gets balls.”
ON DECK: The Bees and LumberKings conclude their two-game series with a 6:30 p.m. game Saturday.
Top photo: Burlington Bees pitcher Jalen Evans allowed three hits in seven innings in Friday’s 11-5 win over the Clinton LumberKings. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)