THE MONDAY HIVE: A Look At The Bees’ Past

By John Bohnenkamp

Hector Yan was on a big stage on Sunday.

The former Burlington Bees pitcher was part of Major League Baseball’s SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Coors Field in Denver.

Yan, a left-hander, pitched 2/3 of an inning, walking one, for the American League team in the 8-3 loss to the National League.

Yan, ranked the No. 8 prospect in the Los Angeles Angels organization by Baseball America, is pitching for the Tri-City Dust Devils, the Angels’ affiliate in the High-A West league this season. He is 0-5 with a 6.02 earned run average, but has struck out 51 in 46 1/3 innings.

A look at some of the players who played for the Bees in the last few seasons when they were a Midwest League (Low-A) affiliate of the Angels:

Jo Adell (2018), the Angels’ top prospect according to Baseball America, is batting .275 with 18 home runs and 50 runs batted in in Triple-A. Adell, an outfielder, played 38 games for the Angels last season, with three home runs and a .161 average.

• Outfielder Brandon Marsh (2018), the No. 2 prospect, is also at Triple-A. He’s batting .253 with three home runs and 12 RBIs.

Chris Rodriguez (2017), the No. 3 prospect, is in Double-A, but was with the Angels to start the season. He was 2-0 with a 3.66 ERA, striking out 20 in 19 2/3 innings. At Double-A, Rodriguez is 0-1 with a 1.64 ERA.

• Outfielder Jordyn Adams (2019), the No. 5 prospect, is batting .181 with one home run and 11 RBIs at High-A.

Oliver Ortega (2018), ranked as the No. 10 prospect, is pitching in Double-A. He is 2-2 with a 7.40 ERA, striking out 35 in 24 1/3 innings.

Denny Brady (2018), the No. 17 prospect, is 0-1 in Double A, striking out 23 in 15 2/3 innings.

• Infielder Livan Soto (2019), the No. 20 prospect, is batting .205 in High-A, with five home runs and 16 RBIs.

• Outfielder Orlando Martinez (2018), the No. 23 prospect, is batting .245 in Double-A with 10 home runs and 29 RBIs.

Robinson Pina (2019), ranked as the No. 29 prospect, is 1-3 with a 3.78 ERA in High-A. He has struck out 67 in 47 2/3 innings.

Austin Warren (2018), the No. 30 prospect, is 2-2 with one save and a 7.57 ERA in Triple-A. He has struck out 32 in 27 1/3 innings.

Some other interesting stories among the Bees’ alumni:

• Pitcher Andrew Wantz (2018) is with the Angels. His lone appearance was on July 4 against Baltimore when he struck out two and allowed one hit in 1 2/3 innings.

• Infielder Michael Stefanic (2019) has risen to Triple-A this season. Stefanic is hitting .313 with seven home runs and 30 runs batted in, after hitting .345 to open the season at Double-A.

• Pitcher John Swanda (2019), a Des Moines native who underwent elbow surgery during the 2019 season with the Bees, is at Low-A Inland Empire. Swanda is 2-5 with a 5.69 ERA. He has struck out 43 in 49 innings.

• First baseman David MacKinnon (2018) is batting .335 in Double-A, with seven home runs and 30 RBIs.

THE WEEK AHEAD

• Tuesday, at Illinois Valley. Wednesday, vs. Illinois Valley. The Bees get the first of two home-and-home series with the Pistol Shrimp, who play in the Prospect League’s Eastern Conference.

• Thursday, at Clinton. Friday, vs. Normal. Saturday, at Quincy. Sunday, vs. Quincy. The Bees are 1 1/2 games back in the Great River Division standings, which makes this a pivotal weekend against the other three teams in their division.

Photo: Hector Yan throws a pitch for the Burlington Bees in 2019. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

BEES 12, LUMBERKINGS 3: Long Goes Long Enough In Win

By John Bohnenkamp

Andrew Long didn’t quite make it through the seventh inning.

What the right-hander gave the Burlington Bees on Tuesday night was more than enough.

Long had his longest outing of the season, going 6 1/3 innings in the Bees’ 12-3 win over the Clinton LumberKings in Tuesday’s Prospect League game at Community Field.

Long (1-2) came into the game with a 6.94 earned run average in five starts, but held the LumberKings to four hits and two earned runs while striking out four.

“It’s been my goal all season to get through the seventh inning, and I didn’t quite make it,” Long said. “Came up two outs short, but it felt good to get there.”

Long gave up a triple to Matt Scherrman to start the inning, then threw a wild pitch that allowed Scherrman to score. Long then got Brayden Frazier to ground out for the first out of the inning. 

Long was at 91 pitches, four short of the league maximum for a game, so Bees manager Gary McClure thought it was time to end Long’s night and go to reliever Garrett Langrell.

“He only had a few more pitches to go,” McClure said. “I thought he was getting a little bit tired. I thought he should finish on a good note, instead of struggling through another hitter or two and then all of the sudden a good outing turns into a not-so-good outing.”

“Still a little upset about letting that one run score, but it worked out in the end,” Long said. “I was glad to give the ball to Langrell with no runners on and an out on the board.”

Long, who pitched this season at Southeastern Community College, has had three outings of five innings this season. He has allowed 34 hits in 29 2/3 innings.

“I’ve learned to rust the defense, really,” Long said. “Pitch in the (strike) zone, it doesn’t matter if you get hit, you’ve got (defense) for a reason. Just really compete in the zone, and don’t let up no matter what.”

Long retired the side in order in three of the first four innings. He struck out the side in the third inning.

“I felt good with all my pitches,” he said. “Just trusted my defense to be there if I got hit around a little bit. Felt good, really confident today. I came off the mound (after the third), felt really good, and tried to roll off that momentum.”

Long gave up two runs in the fifth. Scherrman led off with a single. Frazier followed with a single down the left-field line, and a throwing error allowed Scherrman to score and Frazier to get to third. Frazier scored on Max Holy’s ground out.

“Long came out and pitched really, really well,” McClure said. “I think he could have gotten out of it with no runs, possibly, maybe a run.”

TABLE SETTER: Bees shortstop Ben Nippolt, put in the leadoff spot for the game, reached base in all six plate appearances.

Nippolt walked four times, had a solo home run in the third inning and a single in the fourth, and scored three runs.

Nippolt is batting .364 over his last nine games.

“He’s been swinging the bat good, he’s been taking walks,” McClure said. “And he had a home run to boot.”

POWER PLANT: Nippolt, Jackson Jones and Rome Wallace each had home runs for the Bees, but Wallace just missed a second one that would have ended the game.

The Bees were up 10-3 in the eighth and had the bases loaded when Wallace hit a deep drive down the left-field line that just missed being a fair ball. Had it gone out, the game would have been over because of the 10-run rule.

McClure argued the call with plate umpire Gabe Vargas to no avail.

CLEAN IT UP: The Bees had six errors in Sunday’s loss to O’Fallon, and McClure met with the position players before this game.

The Bees had just two errors in the game, but only one led to any runs.

“I think the guys took it to heart,” McClure said. “It was a good time for them to listen, I think. It’s one thing to talk, it’s another thing to go out and play well.”

Photo: Burlington Bees pitcher Andrew Long gave up two earned runs in 6 1/3 innings in Tuesday’s win over Clinton. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

THE MONDAY HIVE: Breaking Down The First Half

By John Bohnenkamp

The Burlington Bees opened the second half of the Prospect League season on Thursday.

The Bees closed the first half at 15-14, 1/2-game behind the Normal CornBelters for the Great River Division first-half title.

A look at the Bees’ numbers for the first half:

• Record: 15-14 (9th best in Prospect League)

• Batting average: .283 (2nd)

• ERA: 5.17 (5th)

• Fielding percentage: .952 (T-12th)

• May batting average: .294

• May earned run average: 4.15

• June batting average: .280

• June ERA: 5.36

Some superlatives for the month:

• Jackson Jones had an 11-game road hitting streak.

• Kevin Santiago had an 8-game home hitting streak.

• Mason Land had three sacrifice flies in the June 4 game against O’Fallon.

• Ben Nippolt tied for the league lead with 23 walks.

• Jones had 115 at-bats, third most in the league. He led the league with 12 doubles and 20 extra-base hits, and was tied for fourth in the league with 8 home runs. He had 41 hits, tied for third.

• Pitcher McLain Harris was eighth in the league in ERA at 2.80, and tied for second in the league in strikeouts with 41. Harris led the league with 35 1/3 innings pitched.

• Reliever Garrett Langrell had four wins.

TAKING CARE OF THE FIELD

You can often catch Bees manager Gary McClure and his coaching staff working on the field before the game.

It’s something McClure said he appreciates.

“It can be a little bit soothing at times, if you’re not in a big, big rush,” he said. “I’ve always enjoyed working on the field.”

It was especially challenging in the last couple of weeks, considering the rain. Burlington had 5.18 inches of rain for the month.

“The field drains well,” McClure said. “It does a great job of taking in the water.”

The rain, of course, leads to one thing McClure doesn’t like — putting the tarp on the field, and then taking it off after the rain.

“I don’t like the tarp, at all,” he said. “Hate it. The other stuff, I’m fine with.”

THE WEEK AHEAD

• Tuesday, vs. Clinton. After an off-day on Monday, the Bees play host to the LumberKings in a Great River Division game.

• Thursday, at O’Fallon and Friday, at Alton. The Bees make a two-game road swing through the Prairie Land Division.

• Saturday and Sunday, vs. Normal. It’s a two-game home series with the CornBelters in a key division showdown.

Photo: Jackson Jones led the Prospect League in doubles and extra-base hits in the first half. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

HOOTS 11, BEES 7: Sloppy Defense Hurts Harris In Loss

By John Bohnenkamp

The Burlington Bees committed six errors in Sunday’s 11-7 loss to the O’Fallon Hoots, but Bees manager Gary McClure added one more that won’t show up in the box score.

“I think it just comes down to being prepared to play,” McClure said. “And that’s a mental error in itself.”

What was another solid pitching outing from McLain Harris was ruined by the Bees’ mistakes in the field. Harris gave up six runs in 5 1/3 innings, but only two were earned.

The right-hander, one of the Prospect League’s top pitchers with a 2.88 earned run average and 48 strikeouts, struck out seven, but his pitch count ran out in the sixth inning.

“I feel bad for Harris — he pitched a great game,” McClure said. “And had he not had all of those (errors) he might have went into the eighth inning today.  But his pitch count got up there more because of that.”

The Bees’ fielding struggles started with the first batter, when Luke Vinson turned a slow grounder up the middle into a double. He then stole third and scored when catcher Chase Honeycutt’s throw went into left field.

Another error in the third inning led to the Hoots’ second run, then two more errors gave O’Fallon two runs in the fifth inning without the benefit of a hit.

“Not only did we make errors, but every one of them scored,” McClure said. “We had more errors in the fifth inning than they had hits. You’re not going to win like that.”

Harris (3-2) gave up six hits and had no walks.

“He was probably the highlight of the day,” McClure said. “Pitched really well, gave us a great game, gave us a great opportunity to win. But we didn’t give ourselves a great opportunity to win.”

Clayton Stephens had two home runs for the Hoots, including a three-run homer in the seventh inning that gave O’Fallon a 10-2 lead.

The Bees got two home runs from Marcos Sanchez and one from Jackson Jones. The two have combined for 19 home runs this season.

“(Sanchez) is getting pitches to hit, and hitting them,” McClure said. “Same thing with Jones. Those guys have got a plan when they go to the plate.”

Bees center fielder Lincoln Riley extended his hitting streak to nine by going 2-for-5 with a double and two runs batted in. Riley is hitting .378 in the streak.

“He’s just a grinder,” McClure said.

Jackson Keller (2-0) was the winning pitcher.

Photo: Marcos Sanchez rounds the bases after his second home run in Sunday’s game. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

LUMBERKINGS 10, BEES 9: McCleary’s Home Run Spoils Comeback

By John Bohnenkamp

It was a steady climb from a big deficit until Brett McCleary put up a roadblock.

The Burlington Bees, down seven runs after 4 1/2 innings in Saturday’s Prospect League game against the Clinton LumberKings, rallied to tie the game, only to have McCleary deliver the eventual game-winning run with an eighth-inning home run in a 10-9 victory.

For all of the clutch hits the Bees (17-16 overall, 2-2 second half) had on the night, they couldn’t come up with one more in their half of the eighth, when they had two runners on to start the inning and didn’t score.

“We didn’t execute,” Bees manager Gary McClure said. “We made a great comeback.”

The Bees, down 9-3 in the fifth, scored three runs in the bottom of the inning — two on Jackson Jones’ second home run of the game — and four in the seventh to tie the game.

But McCleary, who plays at Iowa, broke the tie with a home run to left-center field off Garrett Langrell (5-1).

The Bees tried to rally in the bottom of the inning. Zane Zielinski and Ben Nippolt led off with walks, then McClure called on pinch-hitter Nathan Ebersole to move the runners over. Ebersole tried to pull his bunt attempt back with two strikes, but base umpire Eric Gadski ruled on appeal that Ebersole had offered at the pitch for the third strike.

Reid Halfacre’s flyout and Lincoln Riley’s groundout ended the inning.

“We had a really tough call on the bunt,” McClure said. “That changed everything, obviously.”

Jones opened the scoring with a first-inning home run to right field, then Clinton scored three runs in the second off Bees starter Garrett Moltzan. Burlington got a run back in the fourth on Zielinski’s sacrifice fly.

The fifth was when the game fell apart for the Bees.  A dropped third strike started the inning, then the failure to turn a double play ended up costing Burlington even more. By the time the inning was over, Clinton had a 9-2 lead.

“We had to make a play. We didn’t,” McClure said. “And you don’t win close games by not making plays.”

Ryne Schooley (2-1) was the winning pitcher. Graysen Drezek pitched the final two innings, striking out five, to pick up his first save.

“They played really hard, and you can’t take that away from them,” McClure said of the way his team battled back. “But we made mistakes, and that’s why we lost the ballgame. They played really hard, and I’m proud of them for that.”

Photo: Burlington’s Jackson Jones hits his second home run of the game in Saturday’s 10-9 loss to Clinton. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

BEES 11, LUMBERKINGS 5: Evans Makes Quick Work Of Clinton

By John Bohnenkamp

Jalen Evans wished there wasn’t a pitch count in the Prospect League.

Evans allowed three hits in seven crisp innings in the Burlington Bees’ 11-5 win over the Clinton LumberKings on Friday night.

Evans threw 92 pitches, 51 for strikes. The league’s pitch limit is 95 pitches, but Evans thought he could have gone longer.

“I felt pretty good,” he said.

Evans (2-0) lowered his earned run average to 2.28 in four starts. He has allowed just 14 hits in 23 2/3 innings, striking out 24.

“He’s got a great fastball, he throws a great slider,” Bees manager Gary McClure said. “When he pitches ahead in the count, he’s dominating.”

The only run off Evans came in the third inning, when Bryce Dreher singled to drive in Brayden Frazier. Evans faced the minimum in the final four innings — the only baserunner was Frazier in the fifth, when he walked and then was thrown out trying to steal second base to end the inning.

Burlington Bees second baseman Nathan Ebersole tags out Clinton’s Brayden Frazier to end the fifth inning. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

“I was trying to be aggressive in the (strike) zone,” Evans said. “The pitch count was getting a little behind, but I was just trying to find the feel.”

Evans is a fast worker, and he made quick work of the LumberKings.

“I know tempo is a big thing,” he said. “Just not giving hitters a chance to think, and just feeding off that momentum. It works for me, so I keep going with it.”

“He goes at guys,” McClure said. “He’s got more of a reliever’s mentality, to be honest. He gets it, and goes.”

Evans was helped by three home runs — solo shots by Marcos Sanchez in the second inning and Kevin Santiago in the fourth. Lincoln Riley added a two-run home run in the sixth.

“We definitely hit the long ball, and they were all pretty doggone good,” McClure said. “Marcos, I think he hit over the house (behind the right-field fence). Kevin’s was long, too.”

“Those were really big,” Evans said. “That gives you a lot more confidence. But at the same time, I keep the same mentality, like it’s a 0-0 ballgame, to try to keep my going.”

The Bees (17-15 overall, 2-1 second half) then scored six runs in the bottom of the seventh without a hit. Three Clinton relievers combined for six walks and three hit batters.

“It’s not really a lot of fun for anybody,” McClure said of the inning. “It’s a lot more fun on our side scoring runs. It’s not a lot of fun for anybody when guys are walking the park. And they did there in that inning.”

Clinton (12-19, 0-2) got four runs in the eighth inning on just one hit, sending nine batters to the plate.

Matt Scherman (3-2) was the losing pitcher.

STREAKING: Riley went 2-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to seven games. Riley is hitting .313 for the season, .393 during the streak. “He’s been good,” McClure said. “He’s a guy who gets on base, but he does other things, too. He drives in runs — he’s hitting unbelievable with guys in scoring position. He’s an unbelievable player. Plus, he plays an unbelievable center field — he goes and gets balls.”

ON DECK: The Bees and LumberKings conclude their two-game series with a 6:30 p.m. game Saturday.

Top photo: Burlington Bees pitcher Jalen Evans allowed three hits in seven innings in Friday’s 11-5 win over the Clinton LumberKings. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

BEES 3-2, CORNBELTERS 6-0: Sagedahl Keeps Normal Guessing In Doubleheader Split

By John Bohnenkamp

Chas Sagedahl had struggled in his first three starts with the Burlington Bees.

Everything came together for the left-hander in Thursday’s 2-0 win over the Normal CornBelters in the second game of a Prospect League doubleheader at Community Field.

Normal won the first game, 6-3.

Sagedahl pitched five shutout innings, allowing two hits and a walk, but didn’t get the decision as the Bees (16-15 overall, 1-1 second half) scored both of their runs in the sixth innings.

Still, it was an important outing for Sagedahl, who pitched just 2 1/3 innings at Dallas Baptist this season. He had an 0-1 record with a 10.39 earned run average in three starts with the Bees, allowing 17 hits in 8 2/3 innings.

“It was very big for the confidence, especially struggling here and there the first couple of outings,” said Sagedahl, who pitched for two seasons at Southeastern Community College. “But basically, it was getting back to normal, and hopefully continuing like this the rest of the year.”

“He kept them off-balance, literally, through the five innings he was out there,” Bees manager Gary McClure said. “They really didn’t get good swings off him at all. He had a ton of swing-and-misses.”

Avery Owesu Asiedu had the only hits off Sagedahl, a double in the second inning and a single in the fourth. Sagedahl retired nine of the last 10 hitters he faced.

“He really attacked hitters more,” McClure said. “He got all three pitches for strikes. I think he had good run on his fastball away from hitters, and he was able to go (inside). When we called pitches in, he was able to go inside. He just pitched a really good ball game. I take my hat off to him.”

Lincoln Riley’s triple on a fly ball down the left-field line opened the sixth for the Bees. Reid Halfacre then singled to right field to bring in Riley. Mason Land’s bases-loaded ground out scored Halfacre with the other run.

Garrett Langrell (5-0) got the win for the Bees, striking out four in the last two innings.

Bees reliever Garrett Langrell tags out Normal’s Billy Gerlott, who was trying to score from second base on a passed ball. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

Normal’s best scoring chance came in the sixth, when Billy Gerlott tried to score from second base on a passed ball. But catcher Chase Honeycutt made a perfect throw to Langrell covering the plate, and Gerlott was tagged out.

Normal (15-13, 1-1), which edged the Bees for the first-half title in the Great River Division by a half-game, had 11 hits in the first game, nine of which were singles.

Taylor Bruninga (3-0) was the winning pitcher. Simon Gregersen (1-3) took the loss.

ON DECK: The Bees play host to Clinton to start a two-game series on Friday.

NOTES: Bees catcher Jackson Jones got his league-leading 13th double to drive in a run in the first game. … Riley was 3-for-6 in the doubleheader, and made a diving catch on Alex Steinbach’s fly ball to center field for the second out in the fourth inning of the second game. Riley has a six-game hitting streak, hitting .375 in that stretch. … Normal assistant coach Adam Donachie played for the Bees in 2004 when they were affiliated with the Kansas City Royals.

Top photo: Chas Sagedahl threw five shutout innings in Thursday’s 2-0 win over Normal. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

BEES 8, RIVER DRAGONS 4: Harris’ Stuff Is Good Enough

By John Bohnenkamp

McLain Harris has been the most consistent starting pitcher on the Burlington Bees’ staff since the beginning of the Prospect League season.

His start on Tuesday night against the Alton River Dragons had a few struggles here and there.

His pitches weren’t his best, manager Gary McClure said. His final line didn’t have a lot of flaws in it, though.

Harris struck out seven and walked one in five innings as the Bees rallied for an 8-4 win.

Harris allowed six hits in five innings, including two solo home runs. But three of his last four strikeouts were on called third strikes, completing an 84-pitch (58 strikes) up-and-down tour through the Alton lineup.

“He didn’t have his best stuff at all tonight,” McClure said. “Probably the worst game he’s pitched all year, and I don’t mean it to say it was a bad game, because he battled with not his best stuff, not his best fastball. Kept us in the ballgame.”

Harris (3-1) is sixth in the league with a 2.80 earned run average and is tied for second with 41 strikeouts. This outing tied with a June 16 start at Lafayette for his shortest work of the season.

Harris walked Blake Burris in an 11-pitch at-bat to open the game. Burris stole second and third, and scored on Josh Johnson’s single. Alton’s other runs came on solo home runs by Johnson and David Harris.

McLain Harris struck out three in the fifth, and when he struck out Brady Mutz on a called third strike to end the fifth, his night was complete.

The Bees then roared back in the bottom of the inning, trailing 3-1. Ben Nippolt scored on a wild pitch, and then Zane Zielinski singled in Nathan Ebersole to tie the game. Jackson Jones then hit a home run to center field to put the Bees up, 5-3.

“What a shot by Jones,” McClure said. “That was halfway up the batter’s eye.”

Austin Simpson scored on a wild pitch in the sixth for a 6-3 lead, then the Bees closed the scored on RBI doubles by Jones and Kevin Santiago in the seventh.

The Bees had seven hits, five over the last four innings.

“We got guys on, and we were able to get big hits in situations, and strung them together when we got opportunities with guys on base,” McClure said. “That’s what wins games. Big hits win games.”

Brady McLean struck out four in two innings of relief for the Bees, then Garrett Langrell closed the game with two shutout innings.

Photo: Zane Zielinski (right) greets Jackson Jones after his two-run home run in the fifth inning. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

THE MONDAY HIVE: Wissinger Embraces The Closer’s Mentality

By John Bohnenkamp

It seems, to Reece Wissinger, as if it takes forever for him to get out on the pitcher’s mound.

He’ll get there, especially if it’s a close game, when he’s needed to quell a rally, or get the final outs.

It’s the closer’s mentality.

It’s something Wissinger, a right-handed reliever out of the Burlington Bees’ bullpen, has embraced, and it shows.

Wissinger has struck out 29 in 13 innings this season, becoming one of the best relievers in the Prospect League.

It’s a role, Bees manager Gary McClure said, that is perfect for Wissinger.

“It’s one thing to have the physical skills,” McClure said. “But he’s got the mentality.”

Opposing hitters are batting .184 against Wissinger, who is 3-0 with one save. He’s walked just two hitters, while allowing nine hits. Wissinger hadn’t given up an earned run until he gave up three in 3 1/3 innings — his longest outing of the year — in a 4-3 loss to the Cape Catfish on Saturday night.

“He throws 93-94, but he’s got something in the last 10 feet — the ball jumps,” McClure said. “It’s more like he throws 96, 97, something like that. It’s like, ‘Here’s the fastball. Hit it.’ He does it day in and day out.

“I hate to say anybody is automatic, but he’s as close as you get. He’s averaging probably over two strikeouts an inning. If you do that, it’s tough to get beat.”

Getting in the game, though, is a countdown for Wissinger that starts as soon as the game begins.

“The game slows down so much,” he said. “It seems like it takes forever for me to go out on the mound. Whenever I get ready, it feels like it takes an hour for me to get out there on the mound.

“I’m usually always moving. I can’t sit still. I’m always jittery. I’m moving back and forth, from the ‘pen to the dugout. I’m always sitting down there. I’ve got a bunch of exercises I can do while I’m sitting there. I watch the game, and keep stretching to keep loose.”

Once Wissinger is in the game, though, the mound feels like home. And in many ways, it is — he’s a graduate of Burlington High School, attends Southeastern Community College in West Burlington, and grew up watching the Bees in Class A Midwest League games at Community Field.

“Oh, I love it,” Wissinger said. “For that last pitch, everyone stands up and yells. It’s the feeling I’ve never had before. Especially doing it here, with the Burlington Bees, it’s amazing.”

He heard one of the loudest crowds of the season during his appearance in Friday’s 12-7 win over Springfield. The Sliders had taken a 7-6 lead in the seventh and had the bases loaded with no outs when Wissinger came into the game. Wissinger struck out the next three hitters on 12 pitches, then the Bees scored six runs in the bottom of the inning for the win in the rain-shortened game.

That concluded a two-game stretch in which Wissinger struck out eight in 2 2/3 innings while allowing just one hit.

“Wissinger is a big-time arm,” McClure said. “He pounds the zone every time out. He’s always ahead of hitters.

“He’s got the perfect mentality for a closer. Doesn’t say a whole lot, doesn’t do a whole lot. When it’s time for him to go down to the bullpen, he heads down there, gets himself ready in a business-like manner, and he goes out and does the job.”

Wissinger struck out 38 in 21 innings for SCC this season, going 2-0 with eight saves and a 0.43 earned run average.

“I saw him pitch at SCC last season a little bit,” McClure said. “I really liked his arm. And then this year, after I knew he was coming, I saw him three or four times. He did what he does now. He’s starting to throw harder. And he just keeps developing, body-wise. He keeps getting bigger and bigger. He’s (6-foot-5) now, he’s got the tools to do what he does. And he’s got the mentality, most of all.”

The summer has been educational for Wissinger. It’s felt like a professional atmosphere, with the travel and the time to work.

“It’s been great. I love it here. It’s better than going to school. Just play baseball,” Wissinger said. “ I’ve surprised myself a lot. I’ve learned a lot about growing up.

“This helps me a lot. This is what pros do every day. You’re on your own. It’s your career, you do what you need.”

It’s the closer’s mentality that Wissinger has learned to enjoy.

“At first, it was nerve-wracking,” he said. “Now I love it. It feels awesome, especially being a hometown kid. It feels awesome going out there and winning a game. There’s nothing better.”

Photo: Burlington Bees reliever Reece Wissinger has struck out 29 batters in 13 innings this season. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

BEES 12, SLIDERS 7: Wissinger Provides The Lightning In Win

By John Bohnenkamp

Reece Wissinger’s 12 pitches saved a game that was slipping away on a rainy night at Community Field.

The Burlington Bees rode that momentum to a six-run seventh inning that ended right before lightning and a downpour finished the night.

The 12-7 win over the Springfield Sliders on Friday night snapped a two-game losing stretch for the Bees, who stayed 1 1/2 games behind Normal in the Prospect League’s Great River Division.

Ben Nippolt’s two-run bases-loaded double snapped a 7-all tie, then the Bees added three more runs.

It had been raining for most of the seventh inning, and after the inning ended the umpires were alerted of lightning from an approaching storm in the area. Both teams left the field and the grandstands were cleared of fans. The torrential rain that followed brought a quick end.

The Bees had lost back-to-back games with the Cape Catfish on Wednesday and Thursday, and will face them in Cape Girardeau, Mo., this weekend. Burlington let a 6-1 lead get away in this one, but the rally ended the gloom.

“It’s huge, especially going on the road the next couple of days,” said Bees assistant coach Owen Oreskovich, who filled in for manager Gary McClure for the second consecutive night as McClure finished his two-game suspension from the league for his ejection from Wednesday’s game.

Bees starting pitcher Simon Gregersen loaded the bases to start the seventh on two singles sandwiched around an error and left with the Bees up 6-3. Reliever Garrett Langrell came in as the rain began, and allowed four consecutive baserunners — two walks, a hit batsmen and a single — as Springfield scored three more runs for a 7-6 lead.

“You could tell, it seemed like he couldn’t get a grip on the ball,” Oreskovich said.

Wissinger (3-0), a Burlington High School graduate who played this season at Southeastern Community College, came into the game with the bases loaded and struck out Jordan Gunter, Luke Malinger and Eric Martin to end the inning.

“Oh, he was huge,” Oreskovich said. “Three straight strikeouts after we were struggling, that was just big-time. We needed that after some momentum there, to get us going with the bats.”

Austin Simpson led off the seventh with a single, then Marcos Sanchez was hit by a pitch for the second time in the game. Zane Zielinski placed a bunt down the first-base line, beating the throw to first to load the bases.

“Big bunt from Zane,” Oreskovich said. “That was big. Perfect bunt.”

Chase Honeycutt walked to bring in Simpson, then Nippolt pounded a double to right field to score Sanchez and Zielinski. Lincoln Riley’s sacrifice fly brought in another run, then Jackson Jones closed the scoring with a two-run single.

Photo: Burlington Bees reliever Reece Wissinger shut down Springfield in the seventh inning of Friday’s game. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)