By John Bohnenkamp
The bases saw a lot of action on Thursday night.
Home plate didn’t, and that’s been a problem for the Burlington Bees in their last two games.
The 9-1 loss to the O’Fallon Hoots in a Prospect League game at Community Field was the second consecutive defeat in which the Bees scored just one run.
It’s not a matter of getting runners on base — Burlington (5-11) left 11 baserunners in this game — it’s a matter of getting them home.
“We just can’t seem to find a timely hit at all right now,” Bees manager Owen Oreskovich said. “Scored one run in, it might be the last three games, the last two for sure, and had plenty of runners on base in all of those games. Just waiting for somebody to step up and get a hit when we need it.”
It’s also hurting that the Bees aren’t putting the ball in play. They had 16 strikeouts in this game, 16 in Wednesday’s 9-1 loss at Illinois Valley. The Bees have 151 strikeouts this season, second-most in the league behind O’Fallon.
“We’ve got to cut down on the strikeouts,” Oreskovich said. “(Sixteen) last night, maybe 15 tonight. That’s just not going to win ball games when you’re striking out that many times. Put the ball in play, make them make a play, it could change it.
“I think it would go back on the approach in some ways. We’re fouling off balls too early in counts, not putting them in play, and now you’re in two-strike counts. You’ve got to capitalize on not fouling them off, putting them in play. And, especially with two strikes, just battle more than we have. Like I said, you put the ball in play, you don’t know what could happen. You might find a hole, you could get a little Texas Leaguer. I mean, anything can happen.”
Typical of the night for the Bees was a sequence of plays in the seventh. Sam Monroe and Spencer Nivens walked to open the inning. Kevin Santago then hit a broken-bat line drive off O’Fallon pitcher Geo Canfield, but the ball went to second baseman Will Doherty, who then turned a double play. Weston Fulk then struck out to end the inning.
O’Fallon (9-8) extended its winning streak to four games by taking control of the game early. The Hoots scored five runs in the first four innings off Bees starter Cauy Massner (0-1), who was sharp in the first innings, getting his first 11 pitches over for strikes.
Massner walked four in five innings, allowing five runs on seven hits.
O’Fallon added two runs in the sixth inning, then single runs in the eighth and ninth.
Burlington’s only run came in the second inning, when Dawson Estep doubled to right-center field to score Brandon Bickford.
ON DECK: The Bees play host to the Quincy Gems in a 6:30 p.m. game on Friday.
NOTES: Infielder Charlie Terrill has been placed on the injured list because of bone spurs. Terrill was hitting .400 in eight games. “That kid is one of the toughest kids I’ve ever been around,” Oreskovich said. “He was doing everything exactly the way we wanted it done.” … Santiago went 2-for-5 to extend his hitting streak to four games. Santiago, who is hitting .353 this season, is batting .389 in this streak. … Massner was the recipient of a crucial bounce in the second inning. O’Fallon had the bases loaded when a Massner pitch sailed over catcher Brady Logan. The ball hit off the backstop and caromed hard back to Logan, who waited at home plate to tag Ryan Malzahn, who was trying to score on the play.
Photo: Burlington Bees first baseman Ryan Grace tags O’Fallon’s Will Doherty on a pickoff play in the fifth inning. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)