RIVER DRAGONS 6, BEES 5: The Finale Goes A Little Longer

By John Bohnenkamp

The Burlington Bees weren’t ready to say goodbye to the 2022 Prospect League season at Community Field.

They got two extra innings in before it was over.

The home part of the Bees’ schedule ended with a 6-5 loss in 11 innings to the Alton River Dragons on Thursday.

The Bees forced extra innings with single runs in the eighth and ninth innings, kept the game going with a run in the bottom of the 10th after Alton had taken a 5-4 lead, and then couldn’t rally again in the 11th.

“I’m super-proud of these guys, especially the guys who have stuck it out all season,” Bees manager Owen Oreskovich said. “I’m proud of the guys. They fought the whole game. It wasn’t easy, they could have given up just like that. But you could tell that they wanted to give these fans one last hurrah there.”

The final out came with the hitter Oreskovich wanted at the plate — Kevin Santiago. Santiago, one of the league’s best hitters this season, had a two-out RBI single in the eighth to cut the lead to 4-3, then flied out with the winning run on third base with two outs in the ninth.

Santiago had a chance to keep the game going with Jaden Hackbarth at first base. Santiago hit a line drive up the middle that looked headed for center field, but Alton second baseman Cameron Hailstone was positioned perfectly, fielding the ball on one hop before throwing to first to end the game.

“We tried,” Oreskovich said. “Couldn’t get a knock there at the end.”

The Bees were down to their last out in the ninth inning with Charlie Terrill on second base. Catcher Cedric Dunnwald, playing in his first game, looped a single into center field, allowing Terrill to score.

Down 5-4 in the 10th, Burlington tied the game again on Nolan Elmore’s single that scored Pat McGinn from second base.

Alton scored the go-ahead run in the top of the 11th on Hailstone’s sacrifice fly.

The Bees had 12 hits. Lincoln Riley had three and reached base five times. Santiago, Marcos Sanchez, Elmore and Terrill each had two.

Erik Broekemeier (1-1) was the winning pitcher. Karen Reardon got the save.

Bobby Helt (0-1) took the loss.

The Bees close the season with games Friday and Saturday at Quincy. Asked how important it would be to get a win or two to end the season, Oreskovich said, “It would be huge, especially for the guys who have been here the whole time who are sticking it out the last two games. It would be good for them, go home on a higher note.”

Photo: Marcos Sanchez (left) is greeted by Bees manager Owen Oreskovich after hitting a two-run home run. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

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