By John Bohnenkamp
It took 22 minutes for the rest of the day to be ruined for the Burlington Bees.
The Bees committed three errors in the top of the first inning, leading to five runs for the Quincy Gems in their 8-4 win in Sunday’s Prospect League game at Community Field.
The Bees (22-23 overall, 7-9 second half) fell three games behind the Gems (23-20, 10-6) in the Great River Division standings.
The rough first inning loomed over the rest of the game.
“We made errors, and they had some hits,” said Bees assistant coach Owen Oreskovich. “You make errors in the first inning, give up five runs, it’s hard to come back. You just have to chip away and we didn’t do that.”
Ryan Hutchinson opened the inning with a double off Garrett Moltzan. Tyler Clark-Chiapparelli followed with a hard ground ball that first baseman Austin Simpson fielded with a dive, but Moltzan didn’t cover first base until it was too late, putting runners at first and third.
The inning just got worse. Two errors by second baseman Zane Zielinski and an error by left fielder Sam Monroe added to the misery, as the Gems sent 10 batters to the plate. Only two of the runs were earned.
The outburst was made worse by the Bees’ inability lately to score runs. Monroe’s RBI single drove in Joey Fitzgerald to break a 20-inning scoreless spell.
“Twenty scoreless? I didn’t know that,” Oreskovich said. “We’ve had some tough breaks in the last few games. We’ve left a lot of guys on base. But that’s baseball, that happens.”
The Bees left 13 runners on in this game.
Time is running out on the season — 15 games remain on the schedule.
“We’re going to need hits with runners on,” Oreskovich said. “Get ‘em on, get ‘em over, get ‘em in. We’ll need timely hitting, which we haven’t gotten recently. And we’re going to need good pitching.”
THE NEW GUY: Monroe, who plays at Southeastern Community College, joined the team before the game and was 2-for-3 with two runs batted in. He reached base three times — he had a walk in the seventh inning.
BULLPEN HELP: Moltzan lasted just one-third of an inning, but the Bees got 5 2/3 strong innings from reliever Brady McLean, who allowed three hits and struck out two while giving up just one run.
“He did a great job,” Oreskovich said. “He’s done a great job for us lately. He’s a great pitcher, such a competitor.”
Greg Ryun allowed two runs in 1 1/3 innings. K.J. Baker closed the game with 1 2/3 shutout innings.
“Our bullpen was phenomenal,” Oreskovich said.
BIG DIVE: Bees center fielder Lincoln Riley had the play of the day with a diving catch to end the fourth inning.
Quincy had a runner on with two outs when Alex Watermann hit a deep fly ball into left-center field that Riley raced down, diving at the last second to make the catch.
UP NEXT: The Bees have Monday off before playing at Quincy on Tuesday.
Photo: Bees center fielder Lincoln Riley lays out to make the catch to end the fourth inning. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)