By John Bohnenkamp
Dylan Hale had been playing in the Cotton States League in Mississippi this summer when he got a call from a friend.
Burlington Bees catcher Chase Honeycutt, who was Hale’s teammate at Desoto Central High School in Southhaven, Miss., called Hale as the Bees’ roster numbers began to dwindle as the Prospect League season was coming to an end.
“He told me they needed some help. So I just came up here,” Hale said. “Just wanted to have some fun up here.”
What Hale did on Sunday certainly qualifies as fun.
Hale’s two-run home run in the eighth inning lifted the Bees to a 4-3 win over the Lafayette Aviators at Community Field.
The win snapped the Bees’ four-game losing streak, and it came in a game that lasted 1 hour, 56 minutes — so fast, in fact, the Bees’ post-game food hadn’t arrived yet.
Hale, who was 0-for-3 in the game and came in just batting .188 in five games after arriving in Burlington on Monday, homered off reliever Wil Moritz (0-1) with one out after Jackson Jones’ double into the right-center field gap.
“First three at-bats, I was struggling,” Hale said. “Looked a little bit goofy on the curveball.”
Five innings earlier, Jones was intentionally walked with two outs and no one on base to get to Hale, who struck out to end the inning.
“At the time, I was like, ‘OK, cool, let me show I can hit the ball,’” Hale said. “But I ended up striking out. So coming up in the fourth at-bat, hitting a home run, it was pretty cool.”
“Big home run,” Bees manager Gary McClure said. “He’s capable of that. He’s got a nice swing. He finally got a pitch up. He had gotten a lot of pitches down today and got himself out. But he finally got a pitch up, hit it out of the yard.”
The Bees had given up an average of 11.3 runs in the losing streak, but starter Ricky Arthur and relievers Danny Perdzock and Grady Gorgen (2-1) combined to give up eight hits and keep the Aviators, who are tied for the league lead in runs scored, quiet.
Jones gave the Bees a 2-0 lead in the first with a two-run home run, his league-leading 18th of the season.
Jones, who is two home runs away from tying the league single-season record, went 2-for-4 after going 4-for-31 (.129) in his last eight games. Jones is still hitting .323 for the season.
“Yeah, for him, he’s definitely been slumping,” McClure said. “He got good swings off today.”
Lafayette took a 3-2 lead in the fourth on Jayson Newman’s two-run home run and Gary Lora’s solo homer.
Photo: Dylan Hale hits a two-run home run in the eighth inning to lift the Burlington Bees to a 4-3 win over Lafayette.