On a night when it seemed like everyone was making a big defensive play, perhaps the biggest came in the first inning.
Kane County’s 8-6 win over the Burlington Bees in Saturday’s Class A Midwest League game at Community Field had its share of diving and leaping catches, but the most important leap came by Cougars first baseman Yoel Yanqui.
The Bees seemed poised to have a big start. Torii Hunter Jr., reached on an error to lead off the inning, then Leo Rivas followed with a single. Orlando Martinez drilled a single to right field to score Hunter. Kevin Williams delivered his own single to right field, and that’s when things got interesting.
Rivas scored from second base, but Kane County right fielder Yan Sanchez threw toward the plate. Yanqui, who is 6-foot-1, leaped to cut off the throw and threw to second to get Williams trying to advance. Shortstop Jancarlos Cintron, who tagged Williams, then saw Martinez trying to score. Cintron’s threw was well ahead of Martinez, who was tagged out.
What could have been a big inning was erased, and the Bees only led 2-1.
“A couple of little baserunning deals were the key to that first inning,” Bees manager Jack Howell said. “It was being a little over-aggressive, but you have to read the play. … Most of the time, if you’re going to be indecisive, then you need to hold.
“You know what? Our baserunning has been pretty darn good. You’re going to have things like that, and it shows the importance of fundamentals.”
Kane County then chipped away to take charge of the game. The Cougars got single runs in the second and third innings to take the lead, then added two more in the fourth. A solo home run by Jose Caballero pushed the margin to 6-2 in the sixth.
But the Bees rallied in the seventh. Leo Rivas’ double scored Alexis Olmeda, then Martinez’s single scored Hunter and Rivas to cut the lead to 6-5. But Martinez was thrown out again trying to advance after a throw home to try to get Rivas, and that quelled the outburst.
Kane County led 8-5 after back-to-back home runs by Cintron and Eudy Ramos in the ninth, but the Bees had a final chance. Hunter’s single scored Olmeda, who led off the inning with a booming double to center field, but that would be the end of the scoring.
Jayson McKinley (6-3) was the winning pitcher for Kane County. Luis Castillo recorded his first save.
Max Herrmann (2-6) took the loss. Herrmann had to leave the game in the third inning when he was struck on the ankle by a line drive. Herrmann was able to walk off the field.
ON DECK: The two teams play a 2 p.m. game on Sunday. Bees starter Oliver Ortega (3-5, 3.95 ERA) will face Kane County’s Mack Lemieux (2-8, 3.78).
NOTES: Several members of the Burlington Bees team that won the 1965 Midwest League championship threw out first pitches before the game. That team won both halves to win the title. … There was a two-minute rain delay in the top of the seventh inning. … The Bees had two roster moves before the game. Pitcher Andrew Wantz was placed on the disabled list. Pitcher Matt Eagle was promoted from the Los Angeles Angels’ Rookie team in Orem. Eagle was 3-0 with a 7.06 ERA at Orem. Eagle pitched 2 ⅓ innings, striking out two before giving up the back-to-back home runs in the ninth inning.