By John Bohnenkamp
A.J. Henkle’s two-run home run helped wake up the Burlington Bees.
The home run started a five-run sixth inning, and the Bees held on for a 9-8 win over the Clinton LumberKings in Tuesday’s Prospect League game at Community Field.
The win puts the Bees (17-25 overall, 6-5 second half) all alone in first place in the Great River Division and extended their winning streak to three games.
The Bees had been held to three hits over the first five innings and trailed 6-2 when Henkle’s one-out home run drifted over the left-field wall.
“I mean, Henkle’s home run kind of really gets you going there,” Bees manager Owen Oreskovich said. “Then you make it 6-4, and guys look up at the scoreboard and they’re, ‘OK, we’re right there.’ And you’re not chasing (a four-run deficit).
“Henkle had a big swing and that got us going there.”
The Bees got all of the rest of their runs in the inning on two-out hits. Lincoln Riley’s single scored Ben Tallman. Sam Monroe’s single scored Tucker Cole. Then Kevin Santiago’s single scored Riley, and the Bees led 7-6.
“Hunting fastballs, is what I would say,” Oreskovich said when asked to what kept the inning going. “Our guys were hunting fastballs, they got good pitches to hit, they were on time getting the barrel to it and hitting it hard. That’s all I ask these guys to do every day, and it was going our way.”
The Bees got two more runs in the seventh. Tallman’s triple to deep center field scored Ryan Grace, then Tallman scored on Dawson Estep’s single.
Burlington would need all of those runs in the ninth. Clinton (19-24, 4-8) scored two runs on bases-loaded walks, but Kyle Maurer got Matt Scherrman to ground into a force play to end the game.
“I always tell these guys we want to add on when we get a lead,” Oreskovich said. “Getting two more to make it 9-6. Wish we could have added another there in the bottom of the eighth (when Santiago reached base on a one-out error). Getting those two, obviously, helped a lot.”
Hamilkar Medina (1-0) was the winning pitcher. Maurer recorded his fifth save. Logan Schmitt (0-1) was the losing pitcher.
ON DECK: The Bees play host to the Springfield Lucky Horseshoes in a 6:30 p.m. game Wednesday.
Top photo: A.J. Henkle follows through on his two-run home run in the sixth inning. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)