By John Bohnenkamp
It all goes back to zero.
Sunday’s 9-3 loss to the Clinton LumberKings at Community Field was the 19th of the Prospect League’s first half for the Burlington Bees.
After Monday night, when the Bees and LumberKings play in Clinton, everything starts over.
Tuesday will be the beginning of the second half, which means a whole new season for the Bees. That has been something manager Owen Oreskovich has been stressing to his team.
“Hopefully that resonates in their head,” Oreskovich said. “It’s hard to do that, it’s hard to tell a kid in a losing season that it’s basically a new season. To them, it’s still not, because they’ve been here the whole time, and it’s tough that way. Hopefully some of them realize it’s basically a new season here, and everything clears up.”
The Bees (11-19) put themselves into position early to close the first-half home schedule with a win. They led 3-1 after two innings, but could only manage two hits over the final seven innings.
Clinton (14-16) tied the game in the top of the third on Luke Ira’s two-run home run, then took control of the game with three runs in the fifth and two in the sixth.
“Our offense didn’t have it today,” Oreskovich said. “They didn’t hit yesterday, we hit better than them. Then we didn’t hit today. Our offense couldn’t seem to find it after that three-run inning.”
Jared Townsend (1-3) took the loss for the Bees. Townsend only walked one and struck out six, but he gave up nine hits in four-plus innings.
“I thought Townsend did actually a pretty good job out there,” Oreskovich said. “He only walked one guy, which is what we’ve been looking for out of him. Tried to limit the free bases, make them earn it. And they earned it.”
Cauy Massner gave up three runs and six hits in 3 1/3 innings for the Bees. Jeron Conner, making his first appearance of the season, retired five of the six hitters he faced to close the game.
Conner, who graduated from Burlington Notre Dame High School, joined the team on Saturday.
“That’s what I love to see,” Oreskovich said of Conner’s performance. “We were a little short on arms today. That was good to see out of him, to go out there and not get sped up. Throw strikes, and get outs. That’s the name of the game.”
ON DECK: The two teams continue their four-game series with a 6:30 p.m. game at Clinton on Monday. Burlington starter Osvaldo Mendez (0-0) will face Clinton’s Brody Brecht (0-0). Brecht, who just finished his freshman season at Iowa, has struck out 19 in 6 2/3 innings this season.
Photo: Bees first baseman Ryan Grace fields a grounder in the fourth inning of Sunday’s game. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)