By John Bohnenkamp
A battle for first place awaits the Burlington Bees.
The Bees maintained their half-game lead in the Prospect League’s Great River Division with an 11-4 win over the Springfield Lucky Horseshoes on Wednesday at Community Field.
Burlington (18-25 overall, 7-5 second half) takes a half-game lead into Thursday’s game at Normal (21-22, 7-6). The Bees and CornBelters play four games against each other — two in Normal, two in Burlington — in the final 2 1/2 weeks of the regular season, so this is a race that can go on for a while.
But for Bees manager Owen Oreskovich, it’s about his team doing what it’s been doing during its current four-game winning streak.
“They know. I don’t really talk about that with them, or need them worrying about that,” he said. “It shouldn’t really be a worry. I don’t want them going into that. I want them playing baseball, that’s what they came here to do, so it’s what I want them to do. Go out there and enjoy it.”
There is a confidence with the Bees right now.
“Especially if we, like, get down in a game,” Oreskovich said. “It’s not like it was early in the season, where it was, ‘Here we go again.’ Now it’s, ‘We’re going to get a hit, take a lead here.’”
There was no need to rally in this game. The Bees scored three runs in each of the first two innings, then added five more in the fourth in an inning in which they had just one hit.
Burlington had just six hits in the game, taking advantage of 11 walks by the Lucky Horseshoes (18-26, 6-6).
“We weren’t chasing pitches, and getting to pitches to hit when we did have a chance,” Oreskovich said.
The lead was good enough for Bees starter Garrett Moltzan (2-3), who allowed three runs in five innings.
“It made it a lot easier,” Oreskovich said of the fast start. “It allows G-Mo to go out there and relax, the position players go out there and relax.”
Marcos Sanchez had three hits and drove in two runs for the Bees. Nolan Elmore also drove in two runs.
ON DECK: Paolo Zavala (0-5, 9.59 ERA) starts for the Bees in Thursday’s game.
NOTES: Bees right fielder A.J. Henkle is hitting .429 over his last five games. Henkle was 1-for-3 on Wednesday. … Center fielder Lincoln Riley reached base four times in the first four innings.
Photo: Bees left fielder Sam Monroe makes a running catch to end the first inning. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)