Brauer Taking ‘The Pulse’ Of The Prospect League As New Commissioner


David Brauer is trying to get to know everything about the Prospect League.

Brauer, the new commissioner of the 17-team summer baseball league for college players in the Midwest, has taken his first few weeks on the job to get, as he said, an idea of “the pulse” of the league.

“We’ve got 17 teams, 17 different markets,” Brauer said at Friday’s Burlington Bees/Friends of Community Field Winter Banquet at the Pzazz Events Center. “They vary from teams with minor-league backgrounds like the Bees, to teams that have always been in summer college leagues. There are new franchises, and teams that have been in the league for a while. So it’s really getting a vibe for what these markets are like, what the community support is, which obviously is tremendous.”

Brauer brings to the league a background in college athletics, having spent 10 years as assistant commissioner of the Summit League, an NCAA Division I conference that includes Western Illinois University. So he understands the challenges that his new league faces.

“We’re about player development, making a great experience for the players,” he said. “At the same time, these teams are businesses, so they have to make money. It’s about finding that intersection between the communities, the teams, and the players.

“Really, the biggest key for me is trying to take inventory on what the league has done, trying to get a feel for where we want to go, and then mix in some of the ideas I have from my experience working on the college side.”

Brauer knows how competitive summer baseball has gotten.

“When this league started back in the 1960s, there were maybe three or four leagues like it around the country,” he said. “Now there’s about 30 of varying levels, depending on what the leagues put into it.

“Ours is unique because we’re trying to give that professional experience. You know, a lot of our stadiums are either old minor league parks or very capable of hosting a minor league team. So that’s a big plus. It all boils down to recruiting.”

The Prospect League recently entered into an agreement with sports analytics firm Rapsodo to provide live in-game data to players. That kind of information, Brauer said, is important to players to take back to their college programs.

“The student-athletes, they’re our biggest customer,” he said. “Word of mouth is the best way to grow our league. They’ll go back to their campuses, talk to their teammates and their coaches.”

Brauer is also looking into name-image-likeness opportunities for players, as well as mental health programs during the season.

“I think all of that is critical,” he said. “It’s just like how you would sell a college program. ‘That’s why you should come here and here’s how you can benefit from it.’

“What I would like to see us go with this at some point is to really have a multi-pronged approach — the player development side, certainly the skill development, and off-the-field development. You really can utilize that summer time. There’s so many aspects to baseball that go beyond the field that can help a player develop, that we’d really like to be toward the forefront of that.”

The league added new teams in Jackson, Tennessee, and Marion, Illinois for this season. The variety of markets, Brauer said, could be a financial benefit to the entire league.

“If you’re a business in Burlington, you’re going to advertise with the Bees,” Brauer said. “I think from a national level, the diversity of our markets, with the fact that we span across seven states, the more exposure that we can get to showcase our players, I think that that can help the revenue side.

“There’s only so much to go around, let’s be realistic. Between the summer leagues and minor league baseball, it’s competitive. But I think if we can find those revenue sources that can help us to just supplement our teams, that’s huge at the end of the day.”

Photo: Prospect League commissioner David Brauer speaks during Friday’s Burlington Bees/Friends Of Community Field Winter Banquet at the Pzazz Events Center. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

Santiago Named Prospect League All-Star

By John Bohnenkamp

Burlington Bees designated hitter Kevin Santiago was named to the Prospect League’s Western Conference All-Star team on Monday.

Santiago was the only Bees player selected to the team. He hit .307 and had a .927 OPS this season.

Santiago, who played at Texas Wesleyan University, was in his second season with the Bees. He tied for third in the league with 10 home runs, and was eighth in runs batted in with 49. He was 14th in the league in hitting, eighth in slugging percentage (.536) and 22nd in on-base percentage (.391).

Also named to the Western Conference team was Clinton catcher Cade Moss, who plays at Iowa. Moss hit .319 in 29 games with the LumberKings.

Alton’s Eddie King Jr., was named the league’s player of the year. King, who plays at Louisville, hit .310 with 15 home runs and 49 RBIs. He had a 1.072 OPS, and had 31 stolen bases.

Danville’s Khal Stephen, a pitcher from Purdue, was named the pro prospect of the year. Stephen was 4-0 with a 2.02 ERA, striking out 36 in 26 ⅔ innings.

Another Danville pitcher, Josh Leerssen, was named the starting pitcher of the year. He was 5-0 in nine starts with a 0.75 earned run average, striking out 67 in 48 innings.

Danville’s Landon Tomkins was the fireman of the year, with a 3-1 record and six saves. He struck out 40 in 30 ⅔ innings, and had an 0.88 ERA.

Danville’s Eric Coleman was named manager of the year.

Photo: Kevin Santiago was named to the Prospect League Western Conference All-Star team on Monday. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

THE MONDAY HIVE: A Look Back At The Bees In 2022

By John Bohnenkamp

It was a great start.

And at one point in the second half, they were in first place in their division.

But the 2022 Prospect League season for the Burlington Bees was an education for the manager as well as the players.

The Bees went 20-39 overall — 11-20 the first half, 9-19 the second half.

But manager Owen Oreskovich hopes the season was a teaching moment for his players.

“I think they learned,” Oreskovich said. “Every kid that’s left here, they’ve told me they’ve had a fantastic time, and wished we could have done better, and they could have done better. I wish we could have, too.”

There were flashes of success with this team, starting with the 15-5 win over the Quincy Gems in the season opener at Community Field.

But there were also long losing streaks — a five-game one after the opening win, a six-game streak midway through the first half, and a nine-game one after they had a 1 ½-game lead in their division in the second half — that proved costly.

Those streaks, especially an early one, were just part of the lessons of the season.

“We had a great first night,” Oreskovich said. “Sometimes things don’t go your way, and you don’t attack it. And if you don’t attack it, it might not go your way for a while.”

Oreskovich pointed to the team’s inexperience.

“We had a young team,” Oreskovich said. “Either a young team, or guys that haven’t played college ball yet. All you can ask these guys is to try their best. Some of them didn’t even play college ball this year. This was it for them (since) last summer. It’s tough for those kids to get into (a rhythm).”

There were plenty of individual success stories with this team.

• Kevin Santiago, in his second season with the team, hit .307, ranking 14th in the league. His 10 home runs tied for third in the league, and he ranked eighth in runs batted in (41), slugging percentage (.536) and hits (55).

• Marcos Sanchez, also in his second season, had a .536 slugging percentage. He was second on the team with six home runs.

• Outfielder Sam Monroe anchored the leadoff spot for the team for much of the season. His 37 walks tied for second in the league. He also had a .425 on-base percentage.

• First baseman Ryan Grace, a player who redshirted this season as a freshman, led the team with a .340 average.

• Catcher Chase Honeycutt batted .308.

• Outfielder A.J. Henkle, who missed most of his college season with an injury, hit a grand slam to end the season opener. He hit .262 with a team-high 10 doubles.

• Outfielder Spencer Nivens, who played just the first month of the season after helping Missouri State to the NCAA regional, hit .315 in just 13 games.

• Outfielder Lincoln Riley, who missed all but the final weeks of the season with an ankle injury, hit .246 in 18 games.

• Nick Tampa was the do-it-all for the team. He could play the outfield, but was especially effective as a relief pitcher, with a 2-2 record with 33 strikeouts in 26 ⅓ innings. He had a team-high 14 appearances in relief.

• Jeron Conner, a local player who joined the team late in the season, had a 2-1 record with a 2.91 earned run average. Opposing hitters batted .167 against him.

• Steven Escarcega, who redshirted this season as a freshman at Hawaii Pacific, was 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA.

• Owen Rice struck out 18 in 8 ⅔ innings.

• David Theriot, who joined the team in the final three weeks, struck out 18 in 9 ⅔ innings.

• C.J. Lewis, who threw just three innings at Toledo this season, carried a big workload in the bullpen, striking out 32 in 36 ⅔ innings. He threw six innings in relief to get the win in a 2-1 victory over the Cape Catfish on June 25. Opposing batters hit .198 against him.

Oreskovich said he appreciated his team’s effort.

“What I will say about the guys we had here this summer was they’ll compete,” he said. “They work hard — they’re in the gym over there (in the Bees’ hitting building), they’re in (the batting cage), they’re at the Y working out, they’re taking extra ground balls, extra swings, whenever they can. They’re trying to get better.

“They’re all learning. I’m still learning. I’ve learned a lot this summer, learned some things from different guys. They’ve learned, hopefully, quite a bit from me that they can take into their careers. I had fun. I don’t like losing. I hate losing more than I like winning. But it was fun.”


(League ranking in parentheses)

Record: 20-39

  • 11-20 first half
  • 9-19 second half
  • 15-15 home
  • 5-24 road
  • 8-6 one-run

Attendance: 29,320 (6th)


Average: .236 (16th)

On-base percentage: .361 (14th)

Slugging: .331 (16th)

Runs: 306 (15th)

Hits: 442 (15th)

Doubles: 79 (t-12th)

Triples: 8 (t-13th)

Home runs: 28 (t-14th)

Runs batted in: 264 (14th)

Walks: 306 (4th)

Strikeouts: 550 (t-15th)

Stolen bases: 65 (15th)

Caught stealing: 16 (3rd)


ERA: 6.88 (15th)

Hits: 575 (15th)

Runs: 432 (16th)

Earned runs: 370 (16th)

Walks: 334 (14th)

Strikeouts: 426 (t-14th)

Strikeouts/9 innings: 7.92 (13th)

Home runs: 35 (t-6th)


Percentage: .952 (t-13th)

Double plays: 39 (t-4th)

Errors: 98 (12th)

Photo: The Burlington Bees celebrate Chase Honeycutt’s walk-off hit in a win this season. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

BEES 11, PISTOL SHRIMP 10: Santiago’s Homer Finishes Outburst

By John Bohnenkamp

Kevin Santiago’s bat is parked at a perfect place in the Burlington Bees’ lineup.

He was in the right spot again on Wednesday night in the No. 3 hole, slugging a three-run home run in the seventh inning in the Bees’ 11-10 win over the Illinois Valley Pistol Shrimp in a Prospect League game at Community Field.

The Bees (20-36 overall, 9-16 second half) came into their final homestand of the season having lost 11 of their last 12 games. They showed they still had some fight.

“We needed it, to let the guys feel good” Bees manager Owen Oreskovich said of the win. “They’re still working, and that’s all I can ask. It’s getting tough though.”

The Bees were down 5-3 heading into the bottom of the fifth, then scored four runs in the fifth inning and added another four in the seventh.

Mitch Wood’s RBI single scored Evan Paulus with the first run in the fifth, then Patrick McGinn’s two-run single put the Bees in the lead. Tucker Cole’s sacrifice fly made it a 7-5 game.

Santiago’s home run to left-center field was the big blow of the seventh. It was Santiago’s 10th home run of the season, tying him with three others for second in the league.

Santiago, in his second season with the Bees, is batting .306 with a .936 OPS.

“In that 3 hole, he’s pretty dang good,” Oreskovich said. “He’s just a pure hitter, a pro bat. He’s been great, and he’s been great to have around. He teaches some of the kids Spanish, he’s just great to have around. He keeps the energy up.”

Santiago’s home run gave the Bees an 11-6 lead, but the Pistol Shrimp (35-21, 15-10) rallied. They scored two runs in the eighth, then another two in the ninth before a controversial call helped the Bees get out of the inning.

Ivan Witt, whose double got Illinois Valley to within 11-10, tried to steal third base with one out. Bees catcher Nolan Elmore couldn’t get a throw off, but plate umpire Mark Beerends called batter Kevin Parker Jr., out for interference and sent Witt back to second base. Illinois Valley manager John Jakiemiec raced in from the third-base coach’s box to argue the call, but the call stood.

Bees reliever David Theriot then got Kody Watanabe to ground out to end the game.

Jeron Conner (2-1) was the winning pitcher in relief. It was Theriot’s first save.

Preston Kaufman (0-1) took the loss.

Photo: Kevin Santiago (center) is greeted by Lincoln Riley (left) and Jaden Hackbarth after his three-run home run. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

THE MONDAY HIVE: Grace Had A Smooth Ride With Bees

By John Bohnenkamp

Ryan Grace remembered his trip into Burlington.

The final leg of his journey in May from the Northeast to his summer Prospect League team in the Midwest was a flight from St. Louis to Burlington on a tiny Cape Air plane.

“I go on the tarmac of a huge airport, and I’m getting on an eight-seat plane,” the Burlington Bees first baseman said, laughing. “I’m like, ‘What did I get myself into?’

“Bumpy ride.”

And after a bumpy start to his season, Grace became one of the league’s best hitters.

Grace concluded his season in the Bees’ 13-3 win over Normal on Saturday night at Community Field. He went 2-for-3, extending his hitting streak to eight games. Grace, who hit .378 after a 3-for-18 start to the season, finished the season with a .340 average, best on the team. If Grace had enough plate appearances, he would rank fourth in the league in hitting..

“The competition is much better than I guessed it would have been,” said Grace, who also had an .860 OPS. “I think in my first 20 at-bats I had three hits. It was just figuring out, when facing a pitcher, what to look for, and trusting what I could do. I used to not be able to hit to the opposite field, and now it’s all I do.

“Hits are hits, so I’m not complaining.”

“He’s a very competitive kid,” Bees manager Owen Oreskovich said. “He competes at everything he does. Just such a great kid.”

Grace, who is from Concord, Mass., was a freshman at Quinnipiac this season, but sat out the season as a redshirt. He’ll attend Colby College in Maine this fall, an NCAA Division III school.

Grace likes to travel, and getting a chance to play in the Midwest was something he had to take.

“It’s been great,” he said. “I thank (Oreskovich) for giving me the opportunity to play. I had a hard time finding somewhere. I’ve tried to make the most of it, and I think I have during the summer.

“I’ve always wanted to travel, but haven’t been able to because of baseball in the summer. I played all over New England every summer. This was the farthest from home. I always wanted to try to come to the Midwest, and I’m glad I came out here. I love it.”

Grace said he appreciated the “family culture” with the organization.

“The fans are awesome,” he said. “They know me. I go up to bat, I hear someone yell, ‘Let’s go Ryan.’ It was weird hearing it at first, but I’m used to it now.”

There were some other things he had to get used to, like the angle of the sun when it sets early in night games at Community Field.

“If that ball was hit to third base, I was like, skip the ball to me, because I couldn’t see it,” Grace said, laughing. “Even when the pitchers would try pickoffs. I was praying to God for them not to throw it over.”

Grace played right field for the first time in Friday’s loss to Quincy. He had three putouts, including a foul popup he was able to chase down.

“I’ve always wanted to play the outfield, but I never have been able to,” said Grace, who said he dropped 50 pounds after arriving at Quinnipiac last fall. “It was a good accomplishment to be in there. Made a catch or two, made it look as natural as I could. It’s something I wanted to pursue. Anything to get in the lineup. I’ll play anywhere.”

Oreskovich said he hated to see Grace leave.

“Ryan Grace makes everyone on the team laugh,” he said. “One of those guys that keeps everyone loose. Yeah, we’re going to miss him.”

Grace won’t be leaving the same way he came.

“Driving to Chicago,” he said, smiling. “A lot smoother ride.”

Photo: Bees first baseman Ryan Grace hit .340 this season. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

BEES 13, CORNBELTERS 3: Green Goes The Distance To Snap Streak

By John Bohnenkamp

Elijah Green knew the pitch count was looming.

The right-hander, making his second start with the Burlington Bees, made every pitch count in the seventh inning of Saturday’s Prospect League game against the Normal CornBelters at Community Field.

And Green ended up pitching a complete game, as the Bees won by the 10-run rule in the bottom of the seventh inning, 13-3.

“It feels good to use only the starting pitcher tonight, who did a phenomenal job,” Bees manager Owen Oreskovich said. “He did exactly what we asked.”

Green started the seventh inning with a 10-3 lead and was at 84 pitches. The Prospect League limit is 95, although you can start a batter if you’re at 94 pitches or less.

“They told me (at the beginning of the inning) I’ve got 11 left,” said Green, who pitches for Southeastern Community College. “So I was like, all right, I’ve got to pitch to contact. I’m not coming out of this game.”

Green struck out Normal’s Jackson Blemler, then got Dominic DiLello on a called third strike for the second out. He was at 94 pitches, so he could face one more batter.

That was Peyton Dillingham, and six pitches later, on Green’s 100th pitch of the night, he got Dillingham on a called third strike to end the inning.

“We got him to start that last batter at 94,” Oreskovich said, laughing. “I was like, ‘Thank you, God.’”

“I ended up going a couple over,” said Green, who threw 63 strikes in the game and struck out nine. “But hey, whatever…”

The win snapped the Bees’ nine-game losing streak.

“It feels great to be the guy who broke the streak,” Green said.

Green (1-1) was touched for three runs in the first four innings. But keeping the Bees (19-34 overall, 8-14 second half) close was important to the psyche of a team that had fallen behind by 13 runs in the first four innings of Friday’s 14-4 loss to the Quincy Gems.

“That changes it,” Oreskovich said. “It’s not four (runs), and then three. It’s one, one, zero, one. That’s what we ask — try to minimize everything from a pitching standpoint.”

The Bees took control of the game with an eight-run sixth inning that looked like some innings that had gone against them in the losing streak. They had just three hits in the inning, taking advantage of five walks, four wild pitches and an error by the CornBelters (28-25, 14-9).

Green allowed six hits, but just one over the final three innings.

“It really helped (getting that lead),” Green said. “It was a close game up until the (sixth). Pitching with a lead is obviously so many times easier. And my defense was amazing tonight.”

The Bees finished the game with five walks to score three runs in the eighth inning, with the final two runs scoring on wild pitches with the bases loaded.

Four Normal pitchers combined for 12 walks. Bode Gebbink (4-4) took the loss.

Photo: Bees pitcher Elijah Green struck out nine in seven innings in Saturday’s win. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

GEMS 14, BEES 4: Tampa, Grace Provide The Few Bright Spots

By John Bohnenkamp

It was going to be hard for Burlington Bees manager Owen Oreskovich to find any positives in the 14-4 loss to the Quincy Gems in Friday’s Prospect League game at Community Field.

Mentioning Nick Tampa’s name though, changed that.

Tampa has been one of the whatever-you-need players of the Bees this season, and he was that again on a night when Quincy could have made this game a lot uglier.

Tampa allowed one run and two hits in three innings of relief, striking out six.

“That kid competes every time he’s out there,” Oreskovich said. “Normally he’s in a role where he’s in a little more pressure, but he didn’t have to deal with that. He was able to go out there and do that thing, with a ball that moves the way that it does. He did a fantastic job.

“It could have been extremely … it was bad. It was terrible. It could have been a lot worse.”

Tampa has played the outfield and come out of the bullpen this season. He’s hitting .273, and as a pitcher struck out 28 in 22 1/3 innings.

“He’s done absolutely everything,” Oreskovich said. “He’s hit, he’s pitched, he’s played the outfield. Shows up with a smile every day. Cares. That’s all you can ask from a kid.”

The Bees (18-34, 7-14 second half) have lost nine consecutive games. They’ve given up 89 runs in the streak, with the Gems (28-24, 9-11) scoring 13 in the first four innings of this game.

“It’s pretty damn frustrating,” Oreskovich said. “A few of these games in this losing stretch, we had every chance in the world to win, and couldn’t do it. Couldn’t add on runs, couldn’t get a few more guys out. It’s probably the most frustrating thing I’ve ever dealt with in my life at this point in the baseball world.

“Yeah, not too much to be happy about in a losing streak like this.”

The Bees showed a little offense in the fourth and fifth innings. Weston Fulk’s triple scored Ryan Grace with Burlington’s first run, then Grace drove in three runs with a bases-loaded double in the fifth.

Grace is batting .330 this season, and extended his hitting streak to seven games.

“He’s a very competitive kid,” Oreskovich said. “That was another one that if it doesn’t happen, it could have made the game a lot worse than it was, and it was pretty damn bad already.”

Tim O’Connor (1-0) was the winning pitcher, striking out seven in five innings. Jared Townsend (1-6) was the losing pitcher.

Photo: Nick Tampa allowed just one run in three innings in Friday’s loss. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

THE MONDAY HIVE: Riley Is Back To Play In A Familiar Spot

By John Bohnenkamp

Owen Oreskovich was asked last Monday about what it meant to have Lincoln Riley back in center field for the Burlington Bees.

The Bees manager pointed to Riley’s diving catch for the second out in the ninth inning of the 6-5 win over the O’Fallon Hoots at Community Field.

“See those plays out in center today?” Oreskovich said, smiling. “That’s what it means to me to have him back.”

Five nights later, after Riley made another diving catch to get the Bees out of a first inning in which they had surrendered two runs and were dealing with runners on second and third base, Oreskovich just had to marvel again.

“That saves that inning,” Oreskovich said after the 5-3 loss to the Alton River Dragons.

It’s Riley’s second season with the Bees, and he knows the Community Field outfield well. He played in the stadium last spring as a member of Southeastern Community College’s baseball team, and then last summer with the Bees.

“It feels great to be back,” Riley said. “When I was driving back here, all of the memories were coming back, from Southeastern, last summer here.”

Riley, getting ready for his senior season at Eastern Illinois University, is glad to be playing again. He suffered an ankle injury on May 20 in EIU’s final regular-season series against Southeast Missouri State, and spent the time since then trying to get back on the field.

“It sucked sitting on the couch, not being able to play,” Riley said. “But it’s good to be back here playing.

“When I got here, it was good to see some of the guys I played with last season. Some of the guys who have been here all year, you can see they’re a little tired. I was in that situation last year, playing all spring and all summer. It’s tiring getting into these dog days. It was good to see these guys, get to know them. This is a good team, and I’m glad to be here and be a part of it.”

If the ankle is bothering him — Riley said that it can be “a little uncomfortable” at times — it hasn’t shown in his play in center field.

“When he gets out in the outfield, I don’t think he feels a thing,” Oreskovich said. “He hawks balls down, and it’s incredible to watch when you’re here. Any ball to center, I feel like it’s going to be an out. Even if it’s hit to the wall, I think he’s going to run it down.”

Riley’s talent at reading fly balls is something he said he’s acquired throughout a long career of playing in the outfield.

“The big thing is just getting reps,” said Riley, who grew up in Marion, Iowa and played at Cedar Rapids Washington High School. “Just seeing the ball off the bat is crazy important. Being out there all of the time throughout the years, the reps are so important.”

“It’s his jumps,” Oreskovich said. “I mean, if you watch, when the ball gets hit, you turn, he’s already in full sprint. His routes, and jumps, are unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. I said it last summer, he’s been the best center fielder I’ve ever been around.”

Riley found himself at the top of the Bees’ batting order when he arrived. He is hitting .267 with a .450 on-base percentage.

“I know he’s been a little frustrated with his hitting,” Oreskovich said. “He’s such a competitive kid, like, ‘I want to do it right now.’ Once we get his bat going, he’ll be even more of an incredible asset to this team.”

“I’ve been (leading off) for a while right now, so it’s a spot I’m comfortable at,” Riley said. “But anywhere in the lineup, I’m fine with it. Wherever O puts me, I’ll play.”

Riley is comfortable with the outfielders around him, whether it’s A.J. Henkle or Sam Monroe or Kevin Santiago. There can be friendly banter between the outfielders during the game, and everyone, Riley said, does a good job with communication.

“It’s really good to have that speed that we have out there,” Riley said. “But what it comes down to is communication. With all of those fast guys out there, you need to be able to communicate. But we do well with that.

“It’s good to have a good outfield.”

Riley hit .279 with a .467 on-base percentage at EIU last season. He is a corporate communications major, and he’s appreciating the chance to keep his baseball career going, even if it might be for a short time.

“Honestly, for me, this may be my last year in baseball,” Riley said. “You never know. So it’s about having fun, taking it all in. You don’t get to play baseball for your whole life. So, I’m just trying to have fun, get some reps in before I get back to school.”

Being back in a familiar place helps.

“Burlington just has a spot in my heart,” Riley said. “This is a really cool baseball place. And there are great people here. I’m enjoying it.”

Photo: Bees center fielder Lincoln Riley makes a diving catch to end the first inning in Saturday’s game against Alton. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

RIVER DRAGONS 6, BEES 2: Nothing Falls Right In Loss

By John Bohnenkamp

Ben Tallman took half of a home-run trot.

The Burlington Bees’ catcher made sure to touch first base and second base as his deep fly ball to left field settled into the glove of Alton’s Troy Johnson.

As Tallman cut his trot short, he motioned to the sky and the wind blowing in from left field that knocked down his fly ball.

It was that kind of day, again, for the Bees in Sunday’s 6-2 loss to the Alton River Dragons in a Prospect League game at Community Field.

The Bees (18-29 overall, 7-9 second half), who have lost four consecutive games, fell three games behind the Normal CornBelters in the Great River Division second-half standings heading into Monday’s game between the two teams at Community Field.

The Bees put the ball into play all day against the River Dragons, only striking out twice. But getting those hits to fall was a different matter.

“I thought we hit some balls really well,” Bees manager Owen Oreskovich said. “Just right at some guys.”

Tallman’s ball, one of the hardest-hit ones of day by the Bees, died in the wind that emerged from the northwest early in the game.

“The wind didn’t do us any favors,” Oreskovich said. “That ball Benny hit was hit pretty well. That ball’s leaving on a normal day.

“The score of that game doesn’t dictate how I felt about the game.”

The Bees got a strong first five innings out of starter Jared Townsend (1-5), who walked two and struck out six. But Townsend, who gave up one hit and one run through those early innings, gave up three runs in the sixth inning as Alton (25-23, 7-9 Prairie Land Division) second half rallied to take a 4-2 lead.

“I thought Townsend was amazing,” Oreskovich said. “I thought this was one of his best starts that he’s had this summer. He just had that one tough inning, where he gave up four hits to five batters. They just got some balls to fall, and we didn’t get balls to fall for us.”

The Bees had six hits, but left nine baserunners.

“I thought we had a good approach at the plate,” Oreskovich said. “Overall, I thought it was a good game for us. We just didn’t win. No one would realize that if you weren’t here watching the game.

“I can’t say we were striking out with guys in scoring position. We were hitting the ball.”

Ryan Grace had two hits and drove in two runs for the Bees. Kevin Santiago also had two hits.

Alex Redman (1-0) was the winning pitcher for Alton.

Photo: Bees shortstop Charlie Terrill throws to first in Sunday’s game. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)

RIVER DRAGONS 5, BEES 3: Opportunities Lost In Loss

By John Bohnenkamp

Lincoln Riley’s eighth-inning line drive seemed ticketed for center field, but instead in landed in the glove of well-positioned Alton shortstop Robby Taul.

Taul seemed to be in the right place at the right time in the final two innings of the Burlington Bees’ 5-3 loss to the Alton River Dragons in Saturday’s Prospect League game at Community Field.

The Bees (18-28 overall, 7-8 second half), who started the week in first place in the Great River Division, lost their third consecutive game, falling 2 1/2 games behind the Normal CornBelters, who are on a six-game winning streak.

The comeback magic that the Bees have come up with at times during the season didn’t show up on Saturday night. Riley’s line drive ended an inning in which Burlington had runners on first and third with one out, but couldn’t score. In the ninth, Sam Monroe and Kevin Santiago walked to open the inning, but a strikeout by Marcos Sanchez followed by a double play started by Taul on Mitch Wood’s ground ball ended that threat.

“That seems like the way it was going today,” Bees manager Owen Oreskovich said of Riley’s line drive.

The Bees did rally from a 5-1 deficit. Alex Brodie’s single drove in Weston Fulk in the fourth inning and Sanchez’s single scored Monroe in the seventh.

Getting those last two runs, though, wasn’t going to happen on this night.

The Bees outhit the River Dragons 9-6 — Sanchez, Brodie and Charlie Terrill each had two hits, but left 11 baserunners.

“I thought we did great in the box today,” Oreskovich said. “We hit balls hard. Had chances to score and didn’t get the big hit. We outhit them, and you should win the ballgame when you outhit them.”

Bees starting pitcher Elijah Green (0-1) allowed just three hits over five innings. He gave up five runs, but only three were earned. Reliever Brady Schiesl pitched four scoreless innings, allowing three hits while striking out four.

“I thought Eli pitched a hell of a game,” Oreskovich said. “He really competed. And shout out to Schies, he did a great job. He filled it up, and that’s all I ask out of these guys.

“It was just one of those days.”

Photo: Burlington’s Lincoln Riley avoids the tag from Alton’s Ethan Kleinheider on a fifth-inning double. (Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees)