By John Bohnenkamp
Lincoln Riley’s eighth-inning line drive seemed ticketed for center field, but instead in landed in the glove of well-positioned Alton shortstop Robby Taul.
Taul seemed to be in the right place at the right time in the final two innings of the Burlington Bees’ 5-3 loss to the Alton River Dragons in Saturday’s Prospect League game at Community Field.
The Bees (18-28 overall, 7-8 second half), who started the week in first place in the Great River Division, lost their third consecutive game, falling 2 1/2 games behind the Normal CornBelters, who are on a six-game winning streak.
The comeback magic that the Bees have come up with at times during the season didn’t show up on Saturday night. Riley’s line drive ended an inning in which Burlington had runners on first and third with one out, but couldn’t score. In the ninth, Sam Monroe and Kevin Santiago walked to open the inning, but a strikeout by Marcos Sanchez followed by a double play started by Taul on Mitch Wood’s ground ball ended that threat.
“That seems like the way it was going today,” Bees manager Owen Oreskovich said of Riley’s line drive.
The Bees did rally from a 5-1 deficit. Alex Brodie’s single drove in Weston Fulk in the fourth inning and Sanchez’s single scored Monroe in the seventh.
Getting those last two runs, though, wasn’t going to happen on this night.
The Bees outhit the River Dragons 9-6 — Sanchez, Brodie and Charlie Terrill each had two hits, but left 11 baserunners.
“I thought we did great in the box today,” Oreskovich said. “We hit balls hard. Had chances to score and didn’t get the big hit. We outhit them, and you should win the ballgame when you outhit them.”
Bees starting pitcher Elijah Green (0-1) allowed just three hits over five innings. He gave up five runs, but only three were earned. Reliever Brady Schiesl pitched four scoreless innings, allowing three hits while striking out four.
“I thought Eli pitched a hell of a game,” Oreskovich said. “He really competed. And shout out to Schies, he did a great job. He filled it up, and that’s all I ask out of these guys.
“It was just one of those days.”
Photo: Burlington’s Lincoln Riley avoids the tag from Alton’s Ethan Kleinheider on a fifth-inning double. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)