By John Bohnenkamp
Another fast start by an opponent put pressure on the Burlington Bees.
Thursday’s 11-1 loss to the Illinois Valley Pistol Shrimp in a Prospect League game at Community Field was built in the early innings, and the Bees couldn’t recover.
The Bees (10-17) trailed 4-1 after three innings, then gave up five runs in the fifth inning.
The pressure showed on the Bees’ bats. Burlington didn’t get a hit after the fifth inning, and their last eight hitters of the game struck out.
The Bees didn’t have a runner in scoring position past the fourth inning.
“It makes it a little bit harder to hit when you’re chasing in the fifth inning,” Bees manager Owen Oreskovich said.
The Bees came into the week having won five of their last six games, but have been outscored 33-13 in their current three-game losing streak.
“I would say basically it starts with pitching and defense,” Oreskovich said. “When that’s good the first couple of innings, it’s a little bit easier to stay locked in when you’re hitting. When it’s not too good … for a lot of these kids, it’s hard to stay locked in in a summer league game when you’re chasing a lot early. If you get good pitching, good defense, early, it usually leads to a better baseball game.”
Illinois Valley (17-11) had 16 hits. Jack Johnston had hits in his first five at-bats before Tucker Cole struck him out in the ninth inning.
The Bees’ lone run came in the first inning, when Weston Fulk’s double scored Sam Monroe.
The Bees, officially eliminated from the Great River Division first-half race, close the half with three weekend games before turning their attention to the second half.
“That’s basically the mindset now,” Oreskovich said. “The second half starts on Monday. That’s a whole new season, basically. Hopefully that makes them feel better. But they see the wins and losses at the end of the day. These guys don’t like losing. I don’t want them to get used to it, because I don’t like (losing).
“Tomorrow’s a new day. Start over, 0-0.”
ON DECK: The Bees play a road game against the Pistol Shrimp, beginning at 7 p.m. Friday.
NOTES: A moment of silence was held before the game for Springfield pitcher Lucas Otto, who was killed in a car accident in Illinois early Thursday morning. … Bees outfielder Spencer Nivens extended his hitting streak to eight games. Nivens is hitting .371 in the streak.
Photo: Weston Fulk celebrates his first-inning double that drove in the Burlington Bees’ only run. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)