BEES 3, CAPTAINS 1: Duensing weaves his way to a win

Photo: Cole Duensing threw five strong innings in the Burlington Bees’ 3-1 win over the Lake County Captains. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

By John Bohnenkamp

The final pitch of Cole Duensing’s night was a called third strike on a 3-2 pitch to Lake County’s Connor Smith.

Duensing, who thought he might have been out of the fifth inning a pitch earlier, slapped his glove, then pumped his fist to celebrate.

Duensing and relievers Greg Veliz and Austin Krzeminski combined on a two-hitter as the Burlington Bees took a 3-1 win over Lake County in Monday’s Class A Midwest League game at Community Field.

The Bees (49-45 overall, 10-14 second half) completed a 6-3 homestand, heading into Tuesday’s off day and a six-game road trip through the Eastern Division with some confidence.

“The second half didn’t start the way we wanted to for us, but things are kicking into gear,” said Duensing (6-4), who picked up his first win since June 5, a span of seven starts.

“It’s kind of would-have, could-have,” said Bees manager Jack Howell, whose team had leads get away in the first two games of this three-game series with the Captains. “But that was a good way to go out.”

It was impressive work by Duensing, who allowed two hits and walked three while striking out six in five innings.

Duensing had a four-strikeout second inning — Makesiondon Kelkboom reached on a dropped third strike with two outs — in which he left the bases loaded. He had two runners on in the fifth, but Kelkboom was thrown out trying to steal third to derail the inning.

Duensing thought he had struck Smith out with a 2-2 fastball, but umpire Steven Rios called it a ball. The third strike came on the next pitch, and Duensing’s night of 78 pitches for 45 strikes was done.

“It was huge,” Duensing said. “I had good stuff tonight. I really wanted to get out of that inning.”

“I think, slowly, over the course of the season, as it’s unfolding, you’re seeing guys get through things,” Howell said. “Being OK with calls not going your way, or plays we should have made. Just unfortunate circumstances that are out of your control. So, instead of pitching away from contact, trying to be fine, they understand just limiting damage.

“It’s been part of their development plan. Don’t be afraid to throw different pitches in different counts. Attack hitters and control damage.”

Duensing, a sixth-round pick of the Los Angeles Angels in the 2016 Major League Baseball draft, was coming off an 0-10 season at Rookie League Orem in 2018. He had a 10.32 earned run average this season, but has a 4.11 ERA this season, with 71 strikeouts in 76 ⅔ innings.

“It’s gone really well, especially since the last season I had,” Duensing said. “This has been a very good bounce-back year, if you will. I’m really happy with how things are trending right now.”

The Captains (54-39, 14-10) weren’t going to get anything in the late innings, as they did in a 3-2 win on Saturday and a 5-2 win on Sunday. Greg Veliz, making his first appearance with the Bees, and Austin Krzeminski pitched four perfect innings to close the game.

Veliz struck out two, then Krzeminski struck out the final two hitters he faced for his third save of the season.

Morgan McCullough singles in the Bees’ first run in the second inning. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

The Bees got all of their runs off Lake County starter Zach Draper (5-2). Morgan McCullough drove in a run with a second-inning single. Keinner Pina had an RBI in the third, and Spencer Griffin closed the scoring with an RBI single in the fifth.

“It wasn’t like the last two nights, when we got two runs and lost,” Howell said. “I was really happy to get that third run.”

ON DECK: The Bees open a three-game series at Lansing on Wednesday.

NOTES: Veliz, a 15th-round pick in this year’s draft, has struck out 17 in 12 ⅔ innings so far this season. He has not allowed a walk. … Bees shortstop Alvaro Rubalcaba went 2-for-3, raising his July batting average to .325. Right fielder Francisco Del Valle had two hits and is batting .318 for the month.

THE MONDAY HIVE: It’s an engaging season for Jones

Top photo: Justin Jones smiles as he rounds the bases after his walk-off home run against Kane County earlier this season. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

By John Bohnenkamp

The off day last Tuesday was the perfect day for Justin Jones to head down a lifetime path.

That was the day the Burlington Bees infielder asked his girlfriend, Amber Coy, to marry him.

The question was asked in the evening at Burlington’s Mosquito Park, overlooking the Mississippi River.

She said yes.

“It’s something we talked about for a long time,” Jones said. “It was really cool to take that next step.”

Jones and Coy had been together since high school in Georgia. He is in his second season with the Los Angeles Angels after signing as a free agent. She is a nursing student entering her final year at Georgia College and State University.

“It was just the timing of it,” Jones said. “It’s where my fiancée and I are at in our lives right now.”

Finding a place for the right moment, though, was a concern.

Jones played last season with the Angels’ Rookie League team in Orem, Utah. Plenty of scenic views there.

Finding something in the Midwest, in an area he had never been in before, took some work.

“I did (scout),” Jones said. “When I first arrived in Burlington. I was a little bit skeptical. I had been in Orem, it’s beautiful, you have the mountains. All I could find here at first was corn.”

He thought about the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, but that would require a bit of a drive.

“I thought that would have been super cool,” Jones said. “But the last thing I wanted to do to my now-fiancée and her mom was make them drive 2 ½ hours after the 13-hour drive (from Georgia).”

So, after asking some of the Bees’ host families and other people he met around town, Jones found the perfect spot.

The key was keeping it a secret. His parents and her parents were in on it. 

Only a couple of teammates knew — Jones didn’t share the secret in the clubhouse.

“ I strategically didn’t tell them until after,” he said. “I didn’t want to hear it in the clubhouse too much. And I didn’t want to risk spoiling the surprise.”

Coy, her mom, and Jones’ parents were in Burlington to watch him play. The parents knew what was going on.

“There was (anticipation),” Jones said. “Definitely. It was something I had been planning for a while. I wanted it to be special, surprise her. It wasn’t easy.

“I did a couple of things to keep her on her toes. We went to (Crapo) park here to watch the sunrise that day. I tried to be like, ‘I don’t know if this is the right time,’ so she wasn’t super confident it was coming. We worked it out so it was just me and her in her car.”

Jones, Coy, and their families had dinner in downtown Burlington in the evening.

“Hit a few downtown spots, took some pictures,” Jones said. “The last one was the special one.

Bees team photographer Steve Cirinna was waiting for them at Mosquito Park. Jones said he wasn’t nervous while proposing, but the photos, he said, tell a different story.

“If you look at the pictures closely, my shirt is two different colors in a lot of places,” Jones said, smiling.

Jones then broke the good news to his teammates.

“I think they would have given me a harder time had I told them before,” he said. “A lot of congratulations from them, which I appreciated. A couple of them were like, ‘Man, I can’t believe you didn’t tell me.’ I had my reasons.”

Jones said a date for the wedding hasn’t been set.

“Not yet,” he said. “Baby steps.”

Jones is batting .237 with the Bees in his first full season in the minors. He’s hitting .343 in July, .364 in his last 10 games.

His biggest moment of the season has already happened.

“If you would have told me a few years ago that I would have been getting engaged in Burlington, Iowa, I would have said, ‘Where’s Burlington, Iowa?’” Jones said. “But it worked out well.”

Jordyn Adams (right) is congratulated by Bees manager Jack Howell after a solo home run in Sunday's game against Lake County. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

Jordyn Adams (right) is congratulated by Bees manager Jack Howell after Sunday’s home run against Lake County. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

BEYOND THE NUMBERS

Jordyn Adams paused for a second to watch his deep drive to left field in the fourth inning of Sunday’s 5-2 loss to Lake County. Then Adams put his head down and rounded the bases for his first home run since May 25.

Adams, the Angels’ first-round draft pick last season, has had up-and-down numbers in what will be his first full season.

But Bees manager Jack Howell said he doesn’t think about Adams’ statistics.

“I’ve never worried about Jordyn,” he said. “As I’ve told everyone, he can look like he’s struggling. And then when the game’s on the line, he comes up with a big hit.”

Howell pointed to Saturday’s 3-2 loss to Lake County, when Adams came up to lead off the 10th inning with Alvaro Rubalcaba at second base under Minor League Baseball’s extra-inning rule.

Adams pounded a ground ball up the middle that appeared to be headed into center field for a single that likely would have tied the game. Instead, Lake County’s Jose Fermin made a diving grab of the grounder and threw to first to get Adams.

“Early in the season, when he wasn’t hitting well, he still walked teams off,” Howell said. “And last night, he has his best at-bat with the game on the line. That, for me, is what I think is most impressive about him — really nut-up and have your best at-bats with the game on the line. He’s never really out of it.”

Adams, who is 19 years old, is batting .240 with five home runs and 25 runs batted in.

He struggled in April, hitting just .182, but batted .296 in May. He hit .240 in June and is hitting .244 in July.

“He’s fine. He’s young,” Howell said. “And this is going to be a very productive full season for him. Very productive, he’s really worked hard, we’ve worked with him. And we’ve tried not to beat him up. A kid like that is going to play 120-plus games in his first full season.

“He’s been smart. He’s been very good about sharing with me how he feels.”

Howell said the power numbers also aren’t a concern. He remembered when he was the minor league hitting coordinator with the Marlins in 2011, and worked with Christian Yelich, who was in Class A ball at the time. Yelich had 15 home runs that season. Yelich hit 20 home runs in his first four seasons in Major League Baseball, and now has hit 104 in his last four seasons.

“Back then, he wasn’t a 50-homer guy,” Howell said. “But you could see the power was there.”

Howell knows there is more to come with Adams this season.

“There are still four or five weeks left,” he said. “He’s still going to have a pretty darn good year, in my opinion.”

THE WEEK THAT WAS

Record: 3-3

Batting average: .235

Opponents’ batting average: .227

ERA: 3.27

Opponents’ ERA: 3.29

Notes: Justin Jones batted .412 for the week. … Alvaro Rubalcaba batted .333.

THE WEEK AHEAD

At Lansing (6:05 p.m. Wednesday-Friday) — The Bees take their final road trip against Eastern Division teams. Lansing is 45-47 overall, 13-10 in the second half. Pitcher Eric Pardinho is ranked the No. 4 prospect in the Toronto Blue Jays organization by MLB.com. Outfielder Griffin Conine, the son of former MLB player Jeff Conine, is ranked the No. 14 prospect.

• At Great Lakes (6:05 p.m. Saturday, 1:05 p.m. Sunday, 11:05 a.m. Monday) — The Loons (55-35, 12-11), an affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, won the first-half Eastern Division title. Infielder Jacob Amaya is ranked the Dodgers’ No. 11 prospect.

STAT PACK

Bees outfielder Nonie Williams is sixth in the Midwest League with 48 walks. … Outfielder Spencer Griffin is tied with two others for third in triples with 6. … Kyle Tyler is ninth in ERA at 3.14. … Hector Yan leads the league with 103 strikeouts. Robinson Pina is fifth with 94. … Opponents are batting .199 against Tyler, which ranks him third in the league. His 1.06 WHIP is fifth best. … Opponents are hitting .207 against Pina, which ranks him fifth.

ALUMNI REPORT

Kevin Arias (2019) had two hits and drove in five runs in Orem’s 6-2 win over Idaho Falls on Sunday. Matt Leon (2019) struck out seven in six innings.

Matt Thaiss (2016) hit his first MLB home run on Sunday, a two-run shot that gave the Angels a 6-3 win over Seattle. Thaiss also made a diving stop on a ground ball in Friday’s game, saving a combined no-hitter.

• Jo Adell (2018) had two home runs for Double-A Mobile in Friday’s 5-3 win over Tennessee. Adell is batting .369 with a 1.105 OPS at Mobile.

• Brandon Marsh (2018) is batting .292 at Mobile.

• Oliver Ortega (2018) has allowed just 55 hits while striking out 103 in 81 innings at High-A Inland Empire.

CAPTAINS 5, BEES 2: Another early lead gets away

Photo: Burlington Bees center fielder Jordyn Adams singles to open the first inning. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

By John Bohnenkamp

The Burlington Bees haven’t had a problem building an early lead on the Lake County Captains in the first two games of the three-game series at Community Field.

Finishing the game has been the problem.

A four-run eighth inning carried the Captains to a 5-2 win in Sunday’s Class A Midwest League game, but this game might have gotten away early when the Bees had chances to score and didn’t.

“The bottom line is the same old thing — we’re getting good pitching and we’ve gotten leads,” Bees manager Jack Howell said. “It’s that tack-on. A couple of more runs for us, and we win these games. But it’s been that way all year.”

The Bees (48-45 overall, 9-14 second half) had nine baserunners in the first three innings, but only one run scored. And after Jordyn Adams’ solo home run in the fourth, the Bees got just two walks and two singles for the rest of the game.

Bees starting pitcher Robinson Pina threw six strong innings, allowing one run on three hits. He walked two and struck out seven.

“Just great,” Howell said.

Reliever James Varela (0-1), called up from the Los Angeles Angels’ Rookie League team in Orem to provide a fresh arm, faced just four batters, striking out one, in the seventh inning. But he walked the first two hitters he faced in the eighth, ending his day.

“You want him to give you a good inning, and he did that,” Howell said. “So we send him back out for the next inning and he walks the first two guys.”

Jose Fermin’s sacrifice bunt off reliever Mayky Perez advanced both baserunners. Then Hosea Nelson hit a popup that fell between shortstop Justin Jones and left fielder Nonie Williams, and Connor Smith scored to tie the game.

Miguel Jerez followed with a bouncing single into left field to score Ruben Cardenas, then Cody Farhat’s double later in the inning drove in two more runs.

“They gave us the out with the bunt, then if we field the pop fly that’s two outs, and maybe that inning is different,” Howell said.

The Bees had a final threat in the ninth. Tim Millard singled in the ninth, then Adams singled for his third hit of the day. But Williams struck out to end the game.

Luis Araujo (2-3) was the winning pitcher.

ON DECK: The two teams conclude the series with a 6:30 p.m. game on Monday. Burlington’s Cole Duensing (5-4) will face Lake County’s Zach Draper (5-1, 2.44).

NOTES: Adams, who went 3-for-4, hit his fifth home run of the season in fourth inning. It was his first home run since May 25. … Bees pitcher Jose Soriano was placed on the injured list Sunday. Soriano, ranked the No. 11 prospect in the Angels’ organization, hasn’t pitched since June 26.

CAPTAINS 3, BEES 2: A win that was snatched away

Photo: Bees pitcher Clayton Chatham tags out Lake County’s Connor Smith at the plate in the first inning. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

By John Bohnenkamp

The perfect hitter was at the plate to start the 10th inning for the Burlington Bees.

Jordyn Adams has been a right-guy-in-the-right spot for the Bees all season. So when he got all barrel on a pitch from Lake County Captains pitcher Kyle Marman, it was exactly what manager Jack Howell wanted.

“He hit it hard, just like he always does,” Howell said.

Adams hit a hard grounder that looked like it was heading into center field with a chance to tie the game with Alvaro Rubalcaba on second. Instead, Lake County second baseman Jose Fermin made a diving grab, getting up to throw out Adams at first.

And when Nonie Williams and Spencer Griffin were called out on strikes to end the game, Lake County walked away with a 3-2 win.

“We’ve done that to teams all year,” Howell said. “It was bound to happen to us.”

The Bees (48-44 overall, 9-13 second half) are 7-4 in extra-inning games this season, the most wins in extras among Midwest League teams.

But they couldn’t add to that on a night when Lake County (53-38, 13-9) got the big hits.

Burlington built an early 2-0 lead, then the Captains tied the game with two runs in the eighth. Ruben Cardenas smacked a double off Bees pitcher Parker Joe Robinson, then he scored on Daniel Schneeman’s fourth hit of the night, a triple to right-center field. Schneeman scored when Fermin dropped a single over first baseman Connor Fitzsimons.

“They got the big hits when they needed them,” Howell said.

The Captains didn’t even need a hit to score in the 10th. Billy Wilson started the inning on second baseman, and moved to third when Bees reliever Luke Lind (3-3) was called for a balk. Wilson scored on Bo Naylor’s sacrifice fly.

The loss spoiled what was another strong pitching night for the Bees.

Clayton Chatham made his first start for the Bees, giving up four hits and striking out five in five shutout innings. Robinson was one out away from his third shutout inning before Cardenas’ double.

“I thought (Chatham) was really good, giving us five innings,” Howell said. “We wanted to get Robinson stretched out a little bit, and he gave us good innings.”

Marman (2-2) struck out five in two innings for the win.

MAITAN’S SPILL: Bees third baseman Kevin Maitan was taken out of the game for precautionary measures after tumbling over the wall chasing a foul ball down the left-field line.

Josh Rolette hit a pop fly that was headed toward the wall that juts out near the Bees’ bullpen. Maitan couldn’t make the catch and flipped over the wall.

“When you see someone go over like that, the first thing you worry about is did they hit their head,” said Howell, who quickly reached Maitan. “I could tell he was OK once I got out there.”

Maitan, ranked the No. 12 prospect in the Los Angeles Angels’ organization, finished the inning in the field, and struck out to end the Bees’ half of the seventh inning. He was replaced in the top of the eighth by Tim Millard.

“We just wanted to be careful,” Howell said. “He kind of winced a little bit when he was swinging the bat, so the trainer thought it best to get him out. He should be fine — he’ll get treatment after the game and again tomorrow.”

ON DECK: The two teams play a 2 p.m. game on Sunday.

NOTES: Schneeman, who went 4-for-4, is now batting .475 in July with 19 hits. He has a six-game hitting streak. … Bees shortstop Justin Jones had two hits to raise his July average to .355.

SERIES PREVIEW: Bees vs. Lake County Captains

Photo: Bees pitcher Cole Duensing, who will start Monday’s game, has a 2.89 ERA in July. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

SERIES FACTS

Game times: 6:30 p.m. Saturday and Monday, 2 p.m. Sunday

Where: Community Field

Second-half records: Bees 9-12, Captains 12-9

Overall records: Bees 48-43, Captains 52-38

Season series: First meeting

TEAM COMPARISONS

Last 10: Bees 5-5, Captains 5-5

Home vs. road: Bees 30-20 at home, Captains 24-22 on road

Run differential: Bees plus-3, Captains plus-49

Extra innings: Bees 7-3, Captains 4-3

One-run games: Bees 21-14, Captains 16-12

WHAT TO WATCH

Lake County already has a playoff spot wrapped up. The Captains, an affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, finished second in the first half in the Eastern Division.

The Bees stumbled to start the second half, but have responded on the current homestand, going 5-1 so far.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Bees infielder Alvaro Rubalcaba has had a strong July so far, batting .333 with a 1.011 OPS. Infielder Justin Jones is also batting .333, and has an .851 OPS for the month. Outfielder Francisco Del Valle just had his five-game hitting streak snapped. He’s batting .313 with a .956 OPS in July.

Bees starting pitcher Cole Duensing, who will start Monday’s game, has a 2.89 ERA for the month. Robinson Pina, who starts Sunday, has struck out 15 in 9 2/3 innings this month.

Lake County has undergone a drastic roster change since the first half. Outfielder Will Benson, who leads the Midwest League in home runs, runs batted in, slugging percentage, and OPS, has been moved to High-A.

Still, the Captains have a potent lineup. Outfielder Ruben Cardenas is tied with Bees outfielder Spencer Griffin for third in triples with six. Infielder Daniel Schneeman is hitting .417 with a 1.071 OPS in July.

— By John Bohnenkamp

TINCAPS 12, BEES 1: Winning streak comes crashing to a halt

Photo: Spencer Griffin connects on the first of his two triples in the Burlington Bees’ 12-1 loss to the Fort Wayne TinCaps on Friday at Community Field. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

By John Bohnenkamp

Baseball has a way of ruining prosperity.

The Burlington Bees found that out on Friday night, suffering a 12-1 loss to the Fort Wayne TinCaps in a Class A Midwest League game at Community Field.

The Bees (48-43 overall, 9-12 second half) had their five-game winning streak snapped, suffering their worst margin of defeat this season.

“Games like this happen,” Bees manager Jack Howell said.

It was clear right away that it was going to be that kind of night. Bees starter Hector Yan (3-3) had a 33-pitch first inning, giving up a three-run home run to Juan Fernandez.

Yan had been 3-0 with a 2.67 earned run average in his last six starts, striking out 44 in 27 innings.

He wouldn’t make it out of the fourth inning in this game. Yan gave up a two-run home run to Michael Curry, then got a strikeout of Luis Almanzar to end the night.

Yan threw 77 pitches, 46 for strikes. He allowed six hits while walking one and striking out five, and left trailing 6-1.

“He threw strikes,” Howell said. “Yeah, he didn’t get off to the best start. I think the difference was these guys whacked him today. He’s not going to pitch one-hit shutouts all the time. The good takeaway is he threw strikes, he didn’t get wild and start walking people. The takeaway is he went right at him, they just didn’t miss any pitches. But they didn’t miss any all night.”

The Bees had no answer for Fort Wayne’s Omar Cruz (1-0), making his third start for the TinCaps. Cruz had a 5.40 ERA in his first two outings, but held the Bees to one earned run over 5 2/3 innings, striking out 10 while walking one.

The TinCaps (40-49, 7-14) scored in seven of the nine innings, closing the game by scoring five runs over the final three innings.

“Their bats woke up tonight,” Howell said.

Harrison Wenson (9) watches his fly ball in the seventh inning that turned into a double when it fell between three defenders in left field. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

The Bees had just six hits, two each from Spencer Griffin and Harrison Wenson.

Griffin became the sixth player in the league to have two triples in a game this season. His first one came in the second inning, and he scored on Harrison Wenson’s grounder to shortstop.

The second one could have been even bigger. Griffin’s ball hit off the center-field wall, and the speedy right fielder made it to third base easily.

Howell held Griffin at third instead of letting him try for an inside-the-park home run.

“It is nice with his speed,” Howell said. “It was 6-1 at the time — if it’s a closer game, maybe I try to push it a little bit. At that point in the game, I couldn’t give up a run on a close play (at the plate).”

ON DECK: The Bees open a three-game series with the Lake County Captains with Saturday’s 6:30 p.m. game.

NOTES: Burlington’s Francisco Del Valle had his five-game hitting streak snapped, going 0-for-4. … Fernandez extended his hitting streak to six games. … Attendance was 1,002.

BEES 5, TINCAPS 0: Tyler combines with King for two-hitter in win

Top photo: Burlington Bees pitchers Dylan King (left) and Kyle Tyler combined on a two-hitter in Thursday’s 5-0 win over the Fort Wayne TinCaps. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

By John Bohnenkamp

Kyle Tyler has done just about everything for the Burlington Bees this season, so pitching the final six innings of Thursday’s 5-0 win over the Fort Wayne TinCaps was just another night for the right-hander.

Tyler and starter Dylan King combined on a two-hitter as the Bees (48-42 overall, 9-11 second half) extended their winning streak to five games, the best current streak in the Class A Midwest League.

Tyler has started 12 of the 16 games he has pitched this season, but he also has two saves, which means he is accustomed to all kinds of situations.

“I was a starter and a reliever in college,” said Tyler, a 20th-round pick out of Oklahoma by the Los Angeles Angels in last year’s Major League Baseball draft. “So this is all fairly routine for me.”

Tyler was the winning pitcher, moving to 5-0. He has allowed just one earned run in his last four outings, a span of 23 innings.

“He’s been good,” Bees manager Jack Howell said. “Really good.

“The big thing is his slider. He locates his fastball well. But he’s got to command that slider, to keep them honest on his fastball. Tonight he threw some 1-0 sliders to get even in the count. Once you establish that you can throw it any time, you can mix around the fastball, and it looks like 100 miles per hour. He throws strikes, he goes right at guys, pounds the zone. He’s got good stuff.”

“I’ve just trying to get ahead of everybody, trying to keep them off my fastball as much as I could,” Tyler said. “The slider has been pretty much my go-to pitch, just trying to get ahead with the fastball before I come back with it. Over the last few weeks, last few outings, I’ve been able to develop my changeup, use it more.”

King, selected two rounds before Tyler last year, missed all of last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. This was his first starting assignment with the Bees after two relief appearances.

King threw 46 pitches, 28 for strikes, allowing just one hit while striking out three. He has allowed just three hits in 10 innings while striking out 12, and his earned run average with the Bees fell to 0.90.

“We were wanting him to go 50 pitches, or three innings, and he was right at that,” Howell said. “It was good to see him, we haven’t seen a lot of him. He threw good, clean three innings.”

Tyler took over in the fourth, and continued the domination. He allowed just a seventh-inning single to Fort Wayne’s Michael Curry. Tyler then retired the next seven hitters to end the game.

Tyler walked three and struck out four, and lowered his ERA for the season to 3.14.

Kevin Maitan watches his solo home run in the first inning. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

The Bees got all of their runs in the first three innings off Fort Wayne starter Sam Keating (3-6).

Kevin Maitan hit a solo home run in the first inning. Alvaro Rubalcaba, who was 3-for-3 in the game, singled in a run in the second inning. Francisco Del Valle hit a two-run home run in the third, then Rubalcaba added an RBI single later in the inning to close the scoring.

Del Valle extended his hitting streak to five games. He is hitting .529 in the streak, with eight runs batted in.

“I thought Maitan’s home run really got us going,” Howell said. “And Del Valle has really been hot lately.”

So have the Bees.

“We’ve been getting good pitching, timely hits, and we’ve played great defense,” Howell said. “It’s been the same story every night.”

ON DECK: The two teams close the three-game series with Friday’s 6:30 p.m. game. Burlington’s Hector Yan (3-2, 3.38) will face Fort Wayne’s Omar Cruz (0-0, 5.19).

NOTES: Burlington’s Justin Jones had his nine-game home hitting streak snapped. Jones reached base twice, once on a hit by pitch and once by walk, and scored twice. … Keating hit four Bees with pitches. Five players were hit by pitches in this game, after four on Wednesday night.