LUMBERKINGS 9, BEES 3: Now, For The Second Half…

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)

BEES 4, LUMBERKINGS 1: Landreneau, Relievers Combine On Two-Hitter

By John Bohnenkamp

Ian Landreneau was able to relax.

His offense, and the defense behind him, got the Burlington Bees’ starting pitcher everything he needed on Saturday night.

Landreneau gave up one run in five innings, and he and relievers Steven Escarcega and Jaxon Ingram combined on a two-hitter in the 4-1 win over the Clinton LumberKings in a Prospect League game at Community Field.

The Bees (11-18) broke a four-game losing streak heading into the final game of the first half on Sunday.

Landreneau (2-3) gave up just one run in the first inning, and kept the LumberKings off-balance all night.

“Just commanding the zone with the fastball, and keeping the breaking ball in the zone,” Landreneau said. “And our defense played well. That’s big, because I don’t have to put all of the pressure on myself. I can just put the ball over the plate, because I know they’ll be there to help out.”

Landreneau, who gave up five walks and struck out four, has allowed just three earned runs in his last two starts. He had given up 15 in his first three starts.

“Lando went out there and competed,” Bees manager Owen Oreskovich said. “He minimized the walks — he had some 3-2 counts, but he made the pitches to get out of it. He let his defense work behind him. It was awesome to watch.”

Oreskovich thought back to Landreneau’s second start of the season, a 9-2 loss at O’Fallon on June 9. Landreneau opened the game with four shutout innings before giving up six runs in the fifth.

“He had a really good (start) early in the year against O’Fallon,” Oreskovich said. “It just went sideways in one inning.

“He’s just in the routine now as a starter. He knows when he’s going to throw. He’s filling (the strike zone) up more, not allowing free bases. He’s taking a little weight off his shoulders by doing that.”

The only run Landreneau gave up was in the top of the first. He thought he was out of the inning when he retired Rayth Peterson on a comebacker, but the play was ruled a foul ball. Peterson walked, and then scored when Matt Scherrman’s high popup down the first-base line fell for a base hit.

The Bees took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the inning on Kevin Santiago’s two-run home run. They added two more runs in the second on Dawson Estep’s RBI triple and Sam Monroe’s run-scoring double.

“Getting the lead like that, I don’t have to try to be perfect,” said Landreneau, a right-hander from Texas Wesleyan University. “I can sit there and trust the defense.”

“When you get up in the first few innings, it makes it easier,” Oreskovich said. “It makes it easier for the offense. And it makes it easier for the pitcher — he can go out there and breathe a little bit.”

Escarcega walked one and struck out one in two shutout innings. Ingram picked up his first save with two perfect innings.

“Steve went out and did a great job, like he’s done all summer,” Oreskovich said. “Jax did a hell of a job there at the end. He’s one of the best kids on the team. He brings everyone together, he’s outgoing, he’s fun in the clubhouse. It’s nice to see kids like that succeed and do well.”

“It was great for them to come in and shut the door,” Landreneau said. “Zeroes after the first two innings. If we keep doing that, we’ll be in good shape.”

ON DECK: The two teams play a 6:30 p.m. game on Sunday. Jared Townsend (1-2) will start for the Bees.

Photo: Ian Landreneau allowed just two hits in five innings in the Bees’ 4-1 win over Clinton. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

PISTOL SHRIMP 11, BEES 1: A Night Of Chasing Runs

By John Bohnenkamp

Another fast start by an opponent put pressure on the Burlington Bees.

Thursday’s 11-1 loss to the Illinois Valley Pistol Shrimp in a Prospect League game at Community Field was built in the early innings, and the Bees couldn’t recover.

The Bees (10-17) trailed 4-1 after three innings, then gave up five runs in the fifth inning.

The pressure showed on the Bees’ bats. Burlington didn’t get a hit after the fifth inning, and their last eight hitters of the game struck out.

The Bees didn’t have a runner in scoring position past the fourth inning.

“It makes it a little bit harder to hit when you’re chasing in the fifth inning,” Bees manager Owen Oreskovich said.

The Bees came into the week having won five of their last six games, but have been outscored 33-13 in their current three-game losing streak.

“I would say basically it starts with pitching and defense,” Oreskovich said. “When that’s good the first couple of innings, it’s a little bit easier to stay locked in when you’re hitting. When it’s not too good … for a lot of these kids, it’s hard to stay locked in in a summer league game when you’re chasing a lot early. If you get good pitching, good defense, early, it usually leads to a better baseball game.”

Illinois Valley (17-11) had 16 hits. Jack Johnston had hits in his first five at-bats before Tucker Cole struck him out in the ninth inning.

The Bees’ lone run came in the first inning, when Weston Fulk’s double scored Sam Monroe.

The Bees, officially eliminated from the Great River Division first-half race, close the half with three weekend games before turning their attention to the second half.

“That’s basically the mindset now,” Oreskovich said. “The second half starts on Monday. That’s a whole new season, basically. Hopefully that makes them feel better. But they see the wins and losses at the end of the day. These guys don’t like losing. I don’t want them to get used to it, because I don’t like (losing).

“Tomorrow’s a new day. Start over, 0-0.”

ON DECK: The Bees play a road game against the Pistol Shrimp, beginning at 7 p.m. Friday.

NOTES: A moment of silence was held before the game for Springfield pitcher Lucas Otto, who was killed in a car accident in Illinois early Thursday morning. … Bees outfielder Spencer Nivens extended his hitting streak to eight games. Nivens is hitting .371 in the streak.

Photo: Weston Fulk celebrates his first-inning double that drove in the Burlington Bees’ only run. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

PISTOL SHRIMP 13, BEES 8: Ninth Inning Goes ‘Haywire’ In Loss

By John Bohnenkamp

Spencer Nivens’ three-run home run that rattled the scoreboard in the eighth inning put some life into the Burlington Bees.

The top of the ninth, though, silenced everyone.

Illinois Valley scored just five runs on two hits in an inning that Bees manager Owen Oreskovich said went “haywire”, and the Pistol Shrimp held on for a 13-8 win in Wednesday’s Prospect League game at Community Field.

Illinois Valley (16-11) took advantage of an error, three walks, a hit batter and two wild pitches — one of which allowed two runs to score.

“It’s just tough,” Oreskovich said, searching for words. “That’s just tough. It didn’t go our way today. Those things happen, but … that’s a tough one. That one hurts a little bit.”

The inning started when Illinois Valley’s Zach Lane hit a popup into short right field that second baseman Tucker Cole tried to track down. The ball hit off Cole’s glove, and Lane reached second base.

“That’s a tough play, especially at night,” Oreskovich said. “Everything started from there.”

Only one of the hits in the inning, a single by Dio Cornet, drove in a run.

Bees starting pitcher Osvaldo Mendez allowed two hits and two runs in the first two innings, but left the game after Oreskovich said he was feeling “tight.”

Cauy Massner gave up six runs in three innings. Nick Tampa (0-1), who pitched a perfect seventh and eighth inning, was charged with two runs. Kyle Maurer, who relieved Tampa in the ninth, gave up three runs.

The Bees (10-16) had 13 hits. Leadoff hitter Sam Monroe had two hits and scored twice. Nivens, who had four hits, scored four times. Eight of the nine Burlington starters had hits, and all nine reached base.

Illinois Valley led 8-5 going into the bottom of the eighth. Cole and Trey Adams had back-to-back walks to start the inning. After Monroe struck out, Nivens pounded his home run to right field, his second homer at Community Field in as many games.

“I thought our offense was really good today,” Oreskovich said. “Up and down the order. They gave us a chance to win the game. We just had to get it done on the mound.”

Eben Heine (1-0) was the winning pitcher.

ON DECK: The two teams play a 6:30 p.m. game Thursday at Community Field.

NOTES: Nivens extended his hitting streak to seven games. Nivens, who is hitting .300 for the season, is batting .355 in the streak. … Monroe is on a six-game hitting streak. He is hitting .333 in the streak. … Bees third baseman Oscar Ponce has a five-game hitting streak. … Bees first baseman Ryan Grace is batting .484 over the last nine games.

Photo: Spencer Nivens connects on his eighth-inning home run. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

THE MONDAY HIVE: McGee Brings Veteran Presence To Bees’ Staff

By John Bohnenkamp

Trevor McGee has a plan for his pitching career.

His college career is over, so the Burlington Bees left-hander is in the Prospect League hoping someone notices him.

Maybe an independent professional league. Or maybe a Major League Baseball scout.

It’s why, after talking to Bees manager Owen Oreskovich, McGee made a two-day drive from Pennsylvania for an opportunity to keep pitching.

“I was thinking to myself if you want to get looked at, you’re going to have to go where the eyes go,” McGee said. “I was hoping to find a high-level league to pitch in.”

McGee has made two strong starts for the Bees since arriving on June 17. He’s 1-0 with a 1.80 earned run average, with 10 strikeouts in 10 innings.

He has helped bolster a Bees starting rotation that has struggled at times this season. His veteran presence — he is one of three graduated seniors on the roster — has made a difference as well.

“He has helped some of our guys greatly in the bullpen, just talking about pitching,” Oreskovich said.

McGee, who is from Bensalem Township, Pa.,  was 1-6 with a 6.81 earned run average at Clarion (Pa.) University, an NCAA Division II school this season. McGee was looking for a summer league, and when the Bees had a roster opening and in need of pitching after a five-games-in-three-days stretch in the second week of the season, Oreskovich reached out to him.

“He said, ‘We’ve got a spot here if you want to throw,’” McGee said. “And I took it.”

McGee made his first start two days after his arrival, throwing six innings and striking out six in a 2-1 win over the Springfield Lucky Horseshoes. He allowed one run in four innings in Sunday’s 6-3 win at Clinton.

Nine of the Bees’ 14 pitchers were either college freshmen or sophomores this season. McGee and Garrett Moltzan, a senior at Texas Wesleyan, are the oldest pitchers on the staff.

“Those guys have been through it, they’ve seen it,” Oreskovich said. “You can see it when they pitch, too. They don’t really let any little thing affect them, like some guys might. They’re pitchers. They might not be guys that throw 95, 98, but they know how to pitch. They know how to get guys out. They can see things in swings. They’re pitchers. They’re really great to have there around young guys.”

McGee likes to be around his new teammates.

“You kind of see where their journey went, where they’re at,” he said. “The league was more mature here. Some of these leagues get into the entertainment side of it. I kind of wanted a league that was serious about baseball. They’re here, they’re grinding. They’re here with a goal and a mindset.”

McGee doesn’t have the obligations that come with younger pitchers. Some come to the summer leagues with either pitch counts or inning limits set by their college coaches.

“There’s a lot of things you don’t have to worry about anymore, being graduated,” he said. “I don’t have to really worry about it now. I’m kind of on my own terms here.

“It’s nice to not really have any more distractions. I’d like to develop further. Get bigger, stronger. Throw more accurate pitches, better spin rate, more efficient pitching.”

This is McGee’s third summer league season. He played in the Northwoods League in 2019, and played for Springfield in the Prospect League last season.

“I’ve been around a little bit,” he said, smiling.

Playing in a former minor-league ballpark for an organization that was once an MLB affiliate was something that appealed to McGee.

“The people here really love baseball,” he said. “They’re people who understand and respect baseball. The people here get involved, they talk to the players. It’s kind of cool knowing they’re really involved. Some of them have told me they’ve looked up my stats, things like that.

“It’s kind of a humbling experience a little bit, knowing a few years earlier, there was a pro athlete wearing this same uniform I’m wearing now. It’s a little bit surreal. But I’m glad I’m here.”

BY THE NUMBERS

• Spencer Nivens is on a six-game hitting streak. Nivens is hitting .269 in the streak with one home run and seven runs batted in.

• Trey Adams is also on a six-game hitting streak. Adams is hitting .381 in the streak.

• Ben Tallman was 0-for-25 to start the season. He’s 3-for-7 with two runs batted in and two runs scored in his last two games.

• Ryan Grace has hits in six of his last seven games. Grace, batting .360 for the season, is batting .478 in that stretch.

• Sam Monroe has a four-game hitting streak. Monroe is hitting .333 in the streak. Monroe leads the league with 23 walks.

THE WEEK AHEAD

• Monday, at Alton. The Bees take their four-game winning streak to play the River Dragons (13-10) for the first time this season.

• Wednesday-Thursday vs. Illinois Valley, Friday at Illinois Valley. After an off-day Tuesday, the Bees begin a three-game series against the Pistol Shrimp (15-8). Illinois Valley won the first two games against the Bees on June 14-15.

• Saturday-Sunday, vs. Clinton. The Bees, who have beaten the LumberKings twice this season, close the first half against them with two games at Community Field.

Photo: Bees pitcher Trevor McGee is one of three graduated seniors on the team. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

BEES 2, CATFISH 1: Santiago’s Hit Caps 11th-Inning Comeback

By John Bohnenkamp

Kevin Santiago had two at-bats in which he just missed hitting the pitch he wanted.

That wasn’t going to happen a third time.

Santiago’s 11th-inning single brought in Oscar Ponce with the winning run as the Burlington Bees defeated the Cape Catfish 2-1 Saturday night in a Prospect League game at Community Field.

The Bees (9-14) have won three consecutive games and four out of their last five.

But they had to rally in their longest game of the year. The game took 5 hours, 13 minutes to complete, including a 1-hour, 45-minute rain delay in the second inning.

It was the third win by the Bees over the Catfish this season, and all of them have come in Burlington’s final at-bat. The Bees scored a run in the top of the ninth for an 8-7 win on June 10, then won 10-9 on the following night with two ninth-inning runs.

“And now this,” Bees manager Owen Oreskovich said. “To do that, wow. That was awesome.”

Santiago’s hit with two runners on capped the comeback that was started when Spencer Nivens hit his first home run of the year, a towering drive to right field, to lead off the inning.

Ponce followed with a line-drive single to right-center field, and then he moved to second when Ryan Grace was hit by a pitch.

Santiago, who had flyouts in the fifth and seventh innings, knew what he was looking for when he came to the plate.

“I was looking for a fastball, because all day they had been throwing me off-speed,” said Santiago, who is hitting .313 this season. “I know for something to happen, it had to be a fastball in.”

He got that from Cape reliever Dante Zamudio (1-1), driving a pitch down the left-field line. As Ponce scored the winning run, the Bees poured from the third-base dugout and chased Santiago into left field to celebrate.

Santiago, a junior at Texas Wesleyan University, played for the Bees last season, and his experience is something that Oreskovich appreciates.

“He and Marcos (Sanchez), they’re veteran guys,” Oreskovich said. “They’re guys that if they strike out, they won’t carry it into the dugout. They won’t carry it into their next (at-bat). They’re very good with that.

“He kept that presence about him. He was very mature up there. He was confident, and you could see that.”

The two teams combined for 10 scoreless innings, then the Catfish (8-15) scored without a hit in the top of the 11th.

Jackson Jarvis struck out to open the inning, but reached first on a wild pitch from C.J. Lewis (1-0). Jarvis moved to second on another wild pitch, then got to third on a passed ball. Kolton Poorman’s sacrifice fly brought Jarvis home.

That was the only blemish on an otherwise brilliant pitching performance for Lewis, who threw six innings in relief. Lewis threw just 68 pitches.

“That was incredible,” Oreskovich said. “That was huge to have, especially to keep his pitch count not absurd for six innings. Him competing out there was the best thing.”

Lewis’ work came after Bees starter Jared Townsend pitched five innings. Townsend allowed two hits in the first inning and walked two of the first three hitters to open the second before the rain delay. He then came out and got out of the second inning, then didn’t allow a hit over the final three innings.

“He went out there and completely flipped the game,” Oreskovich said.

The Bees didn’t get a hit until Sam Monroe’s infield single with one out in the sixth inning. They didn’t get another until Santiago’s single with two outs in the ninth.

“We had some good hits that were caught,” Oreskovich said.

ON DECK: The Bees play at Clinton in a 2 p.m. game on Sunday. Bees starter Trevor McGee (1-0) will face Clinton’s Brody Brecht.

Photo: Kevin Santiago gets water thrown on him after delivering the game-winning hit in the Bees’ 2-1 victory over the Cape Catfish.

BEES 15, HOOTS 5: Grace Leads Offensive Surge

By John Bohnenkamp

Ryan Grace didn’t play baseball this spring. So, since arriving to play for the Burlington Bees in the Prospect League, it’s taken him some time to get going.

Grace is hitting now, and so are his teammates.

Grace had four hits, part of a 17-hit night for the Bees in their 15-5 win over the O’Fallon Hoots on Friday night at Community Field.

Grace, a first baseman, redshirted this season at Quinnipiac. He started the season with just three hits in his first 18 at-bats.

He’s hitting .356 now and is on a five-game hitting streak in which he’s hit .500.

“I’m just trying to hit it hard every time I’m at bat,” Grace said. “Wherever it goes, if it’s hit hard, it’s a good at-bat in my eyes.”

Grace went 4-for-5 in this game, scoring two runs and driving in a run.

“I don’t know how much live pitching he had seen when he got here, but it didn’t look like a lot,” Bees manager Owen Oreskovich said. “The more we’ve gotten him in there, the more comfortable he’s feeling, the more confident he is. Having him being comfortable and confident in what he’s doing, especially when he has a good game, it’s good to see for him.”

Grace was looking to play this summer for two reasons, and Burlington proved to be a good spot.

“I want to play,” said Grace, who is from Concord, Mass. “I haven’t played all spring. I wanted to travel, but I didn’t want to stop playing baseball. So I thought this was the best opportunity — see the Midwest, and play ball.

“It’s great. I love it here.”

“I like just the way he brings the intensity when he’s playing,” Oreskovich said. “He jokes around in the clubhouse all of the time. But when he plays baseball, he’s serious about everything. He doesn’t like to mess up.”

The Bees (8-14) have won three of their last four games, including back-to-back wins for only the second time this season.

Grace’s run-scoring single in the third started a seven-run inning for the Bees. They led 10-1 after four innings, then finished the game on the 10-run rule with a five-run seventh.

Spencer Nivens had two hits and drove in four runs for the Bees. Oscar Ponce drove in three runs.

The Bees got a strong start from pitcher Ian Landreneau (1-3), who got some help to get out of trouble in the first inning.

Sam Maddox led off the game with a four-pitch walk, stole second, and advanced to third when no one covered second base on the throw. Jake McCutcheon followed with a bouncing single to Grace, who was able to hold Maddox at third. McCutcheon then stole second, with Maddox trying to score on the throw down to second. But Dawson Estep’s throw back to the plate got Maddox, whose slide didn’t reach home plate.

Landreneau got Colin Bergmann on a popout and then struck out Ryan Malzahn to end the inning.

“(Landreneau) did a good job of filling it up after the first batter of the game,” Oreskovich said. “Him getting out of trouble in the first inning, which he probably shouldn’t have been in … he did a good job just settling in and overcoming that, making pitches and getting guys out.”

O’Fallon starter Matt James lasted just 2 ⅔ innings. The Hoots were short on pitchers, so first baseman Cole Robinson finished the game. Robinson’s slow, looping pitches kept the Bees from mounting any sort of offense until the seventh.

“That’s harder to hit than real pitching,” Oreskovich said. “If you don’t know baseball, or play baseball, you wouldn’t understand it. It’s hard when a guy is throwing that slow and it has a steep angle like that. It’s very hard to adjust and get your timing, get your barrel on it.”

The Bees finally got to a tiring Robinson in the seventh, scoring five runs on six hits. Ben Tallman’s line-drive single to left field scored Nick Tampa with the game-ending run.

UP NEXT: The Bees play host to the Cape Catfish (8-14) in Saturday’s 6:30 p.m. game.

NOTES: Tallman had his first two hits of the season. Tallman, a catcher from Iowa, hadn’t had a hit in his first 25 at-bats, but went 2-for-4 in the game. … Bees designated hitter Marcos Sanchez, who joined the team this week, is 4-for-8 in his first three games. … Nivens extended his hitting streak to four games.

Photo: Bees catcher Ben Tallman tags out O’Fallon’s Sam Maddox in the first inning. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

BEES 7, LUMBERKINGS 5: The Sun Sets On The Struggles

By John Bohnenkamp

Owen Oreskovich figured at some point there would be a break that would finally erase the Burlington Bees’ struggles to score runs.

There were plenty of those in the 7-5 win over the Clinton LumberKings in Wednesday’s Prospect League game at Community Field.

The Bees (7-14) rallied from a 5-2 deficit, tying the game with a three-run seventh inning and then going ahead in the eighth in an inning in which their only hit was an infield single.

“It was nice to see it go our way for once,” Oreskovich, the Bees’ manager, said.

“Absolutely, it was a huge win,” said shortstop Trey Adams, who drove in Burlington’s first run and got on base three times.

The Bees had lost seven of their last eight games, including all six last week.

“Hopefully this is the start of a streak and we can ride it out,” Adams said. “It’s been very frustrating. We went on that losing streak for a while, and some guys got down. It was tough to come back from that. A couple of wins here and there can get us going in the right direction again.”

Oreskovich has lamented the lack of hits in big situations all season, but the Bees found a way to get runs, and it started with some solar help in the fifth inning.

Burlington trailed 2-1 and had a runner on third with two outs when A.J. Henkle hit what looked to be an inning-ending grounder to Clinton third baseman Luke Ira. Ira’s throw to first was on target, but it was right into the sun shining in the eyes of first baseman Jeremy Conforti. Conforti couldn’t handle the throw, and Sam Monroe scored the tying run.

“I was like, ‘One went our way,’” Oreskovich said, laughing.

The three runs in the seventh were all scratched out. The Bees loaded the bases with no one out, then Kevin Santiago grounded out to first to score Adams, who had opened the inning with a single. Marcos Sanchez followed with a sacrifice fly to score Spencer Nivens, and then Chase Honeycutt dropped a single into left-center field to score Henkle to tie the game.

The Bees loaded the bases with no one out in the eighth on three consecutive walks. Nivens grounded out to second to score Brandon Bickford. Henkle struck out for the second out, then Santiago walked. Marcos Sanchez followed with an infield single to score Monroe, and Burlington had a 7-5 lead.

Four Bees pitchers combined on a four-hitter. Owen Rice (1-1) got the win with 1 ⅓ shutout innings that included striking out the side in the eighth inning. Kyle Maurer pitched a scoreless ninth for his first save.

Osvaldo Mendez, making his first start for the Bees, struck out four and didn’t allow a hit until a two-run home run by Conforti with two outs in the fifth. That likely was going to be Mendez’s last batter, since he was three pitches from the league’s 95-pitch limit. Mendez walked seven.

“Huge shout-out to Osvaldo for going out there and shoving,” Oreskovich said. “He’s got to limit the free bases, and he knows that. Once we limit that, he can go six, seven innings pretty easily.”

Cauy Massner finished the fifth by striking out Joe Simpson. He gave up three runs in the sixth and seventh, but two errors behind him were costly.

Adams, the No. 9 hitter in the lineup, went 2-for-3 to extend his hitting streak to five games. He is hitting .438 in the streak.

“Working in the cage before games has been the biggest change for me,” Adams said. “Working on my approach and my swing, just going up there and having confidence no matter where I am in the order.”

“I like him (in the No. 9 spot) for that reason,” Oreskovich said. “Because I know he’s going to compete, put the ball in play. Earlier in the year, he was putting it in play, but it was right at the shortstop, or right at the second baseman. Now they’re finding the holes and they’re falling in.”

The Bees, in the middle of a four-game homestand, get Thursday off with a win they can enjoy.

“I think it’s a swing point,” Oreskovich said. “I think it’s huge for these kids’ confidence.”

UP NEXT: The Bees play a 6:30 p.m. game on Friday against the O’Fallon Hoots at Community Field.

Photo: Bees starter Osvaldo Mendez delivers a pitch early in Wednesday’s game. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

GEMS 7, BEES 3: It’s RISPy Business For Bees

By John Bohnenkamp

The hit, Owen Oreskovich said, is going to come.

That one hit that will clear the traffic on the bases in a key moment.

The one that keeps eluding the Burlington Bees this season.

“It’s a recurring thing, where we can’t get that hit,” Oreskovich, the Bees’ manager, said after Tuesday’s 7-3 loss to the Quincy Gems in a Prospect League game at Community Field.

The Bees left 12 baserunners, including the bases loaded in the seventh and eighth innings. They were 2-of-10 with runners in scoring position (RISP).

The strikeouts were especially painful — the Bees had 13, four coming with runners in scoring position with two outs.

“Once again, we’re leaving guys on base,” Oreskovich said. “We need somebody to step up, take the lead, take charge.”

The Bees (6-14) had eight hits. Trey Adams had two runs batted in hitting in the No. 9 spot in the lineup, and newly-acquired Marcos Sanchez, who joined the team on Monday, hit a solo pinch-hit home run in the ninth inning.

Eventually, Oreskovich figures, something has to break with all of these opportunities.

“It’s a positive (getting baserunners),” Oreskovich said. “Something’s got to happen. That’s just the way baseball goes.

“It’s got to break at some point. It’s probably a broken-bat single or something.”

The Gems (10-10) did get the timely hits. Drew Townsend had a two-out RBI single in the second. Lucas Loos hit a two-out, two-run home run in the third. Jonathan Latham had a two-out, three-run home run in the eighth.

Garrett Moltzan (1-3) was the losing pitcher. He allowed just four hits over five innings and struck out four.

“G-Mo went out there and was doing his thing again,” Oreskovich said. “I’ve got all of the confidence in the world in that kid going out there.”

Cael Kolacia (3-1) was the winning pitcher.

UP NEXT: The Bees play host to the Clinton LumberKings in Wednesday’s 6:30 p.m. game. Osvaldo Mendez will make his first start for the Bees. Mendez was 5-2 with a 5.11 earned run average at Alabama State this season. He pitched 2 1/3 innings in relief against Tennessee in the NCAA regionals on June 3.

NOTES: Plate umpire Daniel Grawe had a rough night, taking a wild pitch off his throat in the fourth inning and another off his shoulder later in the game. … Game time temperature was 94 degrees with a heat index above 100. “It was brutal when we were out there for (batting practice),” Oreskovich said.

Photo: Burlington Bees shortstop Trey Adams watches his run-scoring single in the second inning. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

THE MONDAY HIVE: Nivens Looks To Keep Momentum Going

By John Bohnenkamp

Spencer Nivens spent his redshirt freshman season at Missouri State getting on base.

He’s doing the same thing this summer in the Prospect League with the Burlington Bees.

Nivens, who joined the Bees last Monday, has been on base in five of his first six games.

This came after a season in which he had a .443 on-base percentage at Missouri State, reaching safely in 56 of the 60 games he played. He had a 30-game on-base streak, along with hitting streaks of 13 and 12 games, during the season.

Nivens, a left-handed hitter who is playing either left field or center field for the Bees, wants to keep that momentum going into the summer.

“It’s about getting your pitches early, not swinging at pitchers’ pitches,” Nivens said. “They want you to get some weak contact, roll over, make an out early in the at-bat. The earlier you can hit a ball hard, the better the outcome.”

Nivens is batting .208 with the Bees after his first week, but he has three doubles, including one that pounded the right-field wall in Friday’s 11-4 loss to the Quincy Gems.

“Oh yeah, (the tools) are definitely there,” Bees manager Owen Oreskovich said after Thursday’s game. “He hit one over the scoreboard in (batting practice) today, so yeah, they’re there.”

Nivens, a second-team all-conference selection in the Missouri Valley Conference,  led Missouri State with a .346 batting average to go with 11 home runs and 52 runs batted in. He started every game, with 24 multi-hit games. He scored 71 runs, the fourth-most in the program for a single season. He had 44 walks and 59 singles, also numbers that were in the top-10 in the program’s single-season lists. He led off games against Samford and Bradley with home runs.

Nivens helped lead the Bears to the Valley’s conference tournament title and a spot in the NCAA regionals, where they fought off elimination with an 8-7 win over Grand Canyon before losing 29-15 to Oklahoma State.

“It was everything I had dreamed about as a kid growing up watching the regionals,” said Nivens, who had a three-run home run in the Bears’ comeback against Grand Canyon. “Being able to finally make one with Missouri State, which had been on a bit of a dry spell, it’s nice to finally turn it around and get to a regional.”

Nivens, who grew up in Columbia, Mo., is playing in his third summer-league season. He played in 2020 in the CarShield Collegiate League, a four-team league that played in O’Fallon, Mo., after other summer leagues had shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nivens played in the Northwoods League for part of last season, before coming back to Missouri to play in the MINK Collegiate Baseball League, where he .311 with a .480 on-base percentage.

“It was an absolute grind, nothing like I had ever experienced before,” Nivens said of playing in the Northwoods League. “We got our schedule, I think in June and July we had two off days on the schedule. It’s a little overwhelming, but I think they do a good job managing workloads. It was great competition.”

Missouri State head coach Keith Guttin got Nivens connected with the Bees.

“He told me I was playing here, and I was like, ‘OK, sounds good,’” Nivens said. “I figured if I could go somewhere new every summer, go somewhere I’ve never been, it would be fun. It’s somewhere new, it’s three hours from home, so it’s not too bad of a drive. It worked out well.”

“He’s a kid who wants to play baseball, loves to play baseball,” Oreskovich said. “I like the way he goes about his business, the way he competes out there. I think he’s fine. It’s just baseball for him.”

Nivens said he is getting into a summer routine with the Bees, which is important.

“Our hitting coach (Joey Hawkins at Missouri State) did a really good job of harping on routines,” Nivens said. “So we would come in every day, do the same warmups, the same routine in the cages, and that just really helped me not only get my body ready, but get my mind ready to practice, play in the game, do whatever I needed to do that day.

“It’s just about getting as many at-bats as you can. Summer is the time to just maintain, get stronger, see more pitching, and for guys who want to play at the next level, get comfortable with the wood bat.”

THE WEEK AHEAD

• Quincy (Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.) — After an off-day Monday, the Bees begin a four-game homestand, opening against the Gems (9-9), who are on a three-game winning streak.

• Clinton (Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.) — It’s the first time for the Bees to see the LumberKings (10-9) this season. Clinton is on a four-game winning streak.

• O’Fallon (Friday, 6:30 p.m.) — The Hoots (11-8) are on a six-game winning streak. They’ve won all three games against the Bees this season.

• Alton (Saturday, 6:30 p.m.) — The River Dragons (11-7) lead the Prairie Land Division. It’s the first meeting of the season between the two teams.

Photo: Bees outfielder Spencer Nivens has been on base in five of his first six games this summer. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)