Late Runs Doom Catfish in High-Scoring Game

Cape Girardeau, Mo., June 11 – For a while it looked as if a seven-run third inning would be enough to secure a second consecutive win for the Burlington Bees over the Cape Catfish Saturday night at Cape Girardeau’s Capaha Field. The Bees eventually prevailed 10-9, but it wasn’t easy.

The Bees chalked up seven hits in the third inning – including a RBI double by infielder Dawson Estep and Weston Fulk’s second round-tripper of the season, a three-run homer over the SoutheastHEALTH Home Run Deck beyond the right field wall, to build an 8-3 lead.

But the game’s momentum shifted in the fifth inning when, after giving up a single and two walks to load the bases, Catfish reliever Colin Bryant (West Virginia State University) struck out three consecutive Bees swinging.

The Catfish then sent 10 men to the plate and scored six runs of their own in the bottom of the fifth on the strength of a double by Dante Zamudio (West Virginia State University), an RBI single by Cam Careswell (University of Missouri), a single by Danny Sperling (Southeast Missouri State University), a walk to Blake Barton (Belmont University) to load the bases, a Burlington error on a ball hit by Kolten Poorman (Three Rivers Community College) that allowed two runs to score, a walk to Christopher Hall (Florida State University at Jacksonville) to load the bases again, and a bases-clearing three-RBI triple by J.D. Ortiz (SIU-Carbondale).

When the fifth-inning dust had settled, the scoreboard read Catfish 9, Bees 8. Neither team scored over the next three innings giving the Catfish a one-run lead heading into the ninth.

But the Bees led off the ninth frame with two walks issued by Catfish relief pitcher Marshall Brown (Arkansas Tech) and an infield single to load the bases before Bees’ left fielder Kevin Santiago hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game and Fulk singled to right field off Catfish reliever Noah Burkey (Three Rivers Community College) to put Burlington up 10-9.

Careswell led off the bottom of the ninth with a walk for the Catfish. After Sperling struck out, pinch hitter Ty Stauss (Southeast Missouri State) walked, putting Careswell, the potential tying run, on second. At that point, Fulk, who had been the Bees’ designated hitter, was inserted as Burlington’s relief pitcher. His first pitch to Barton was wild, allowing Sperling and Careswell to advance to second and third, respectively.

The Bees then intentionally walked Barton to load the bases with just one out and the potential winning run on second base. However, Cam Hill (Purdue) struck out swinging and Poorman hit a grounder to the Bees’ shortstop who recorded a force out of Barton at second base to end the game.

Saturday night’s starter for the Catfish, Colten Weber from Jackson (Oral Roberts University) pitched 2 2/3 innings, giving up seven hits and allowing eight runs, seven of them earned. Bryant came on in the third inning and gave up just three hits and no runs while striking out four Bees. Stephen Pursley (Drury University) pitched a scoreless sixth inning for the Catfish.

Brown, who was responsible for the Bees’ tying and winning runs, was the losing pitcher while Steven Escarcega, who was the pitcher of record when the Bees took the lead in the top of the ninth inning, got the win.

Fulk finished the game with four runs batted while going two for five at the plate. For the Catfish, Ortiz was the RBI leader with three, all on his triple in the fifth inning. Burlington finished the game with 10 runs on 13 hits and one error while Cape had nine runs on eight hits and two fielding miscues.

“Burlington had a big inning early. We fought back (but) just not quite enough,” said Catfish field manager Stephen Larkin. “It was a good fight, though.”

The win improved Burlington’s record to 5-7 while the Catfish dropped to 5-6.

The Catfish face the Alton River Dragons in a 5:35 p.m. game Sunday at Alton’s Lloyd Hopkins Field.