GEMS 14, BEES 4: Tampa, Grace Provide The Few Bright Spots

By John Bohnenkamp

It was going to be hard for Burlington Bees manager Owen Oreskovich to find any positives in the 14-4 loss to the Quincy Gems in Friday’s Prospect League game at Community Field.

Mentioning Nick Tampa’s name though, changed that.

Tampa has been one of the whatever-you-need players of the Bees this season, and he was that again on a night when Quincy could have made this game a lot uglier.

Tampa allowed one run and two hits in three innings of relief, striking out six.

“That kid competes every time he’s out there,” Oreskovich said. “Normally he’s in a role where he’s in a little more pressure, but he didn’t have to deal with that. He was able to go out there and do that thing, with a ball that moves the way that it does. He did a fantastic job.

“It could have been extremely … it was bad. It was terrible. It could have been a lot worse.”

Tampa has played the outfield and come out of the bullpen this season. He’s hitting .273, and as a pitcher struck out 28 in 22 1/3 innings.

“He’s done absolutely everything,” Oreskovich said. “He’s hit, he’s pitched, he’s played the outfield. Shows up with a smile every day. Cares. That’s all you can ask from a kid.”

The Bees (18-34, 7-14 second half) have lost nine consecutive games. They’ve given up 89 runs in the streak, with the Gems (28-24, 9-11) scoring 13 in the first four innings of this game.

“It’s pretty damn frustrating,” Oreskovich said. “A few of these games in this losing stretch, we had every chance in the world to win, and couldn’t do it. Couldn’t add on runs, couldn’t get a few more guys out. It’s probably the most frustrating thing I’ve ever dealt with in my life at this point in the baseball world.

“Yeah, not too much to be happy about in a losing streak like this.”

The Bees showed a little offense in the fourth and fifth innings. Weston Fulk’s triple scored Ryan Grace with Burlington’s first run, then Grace drove in three runs with a bases-loaded double in the fifth.

Grace is batting .330 this season, and extended his hitting streak to seven games.

“He’s a very competitive kid,” Oreskovich said. “That was another one that if it doesn’t happen, it could have made the game a lot worse than it was, and it was pretty damn bad already.”

Tim O’Connor (1-0) was the winning pitcher, striking out seven in five innings. Jared Townsend (1-6) was the losing pitcher.

Photo: Nick Tampa allowed just one run in three innings in Friday’s loss. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

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