Bees double their fun, take 2-0 series lead

The Burlington Bees on Thursday night jumped all over the South Bend Silver Hawks, building a big lead early while cruising to a 12-0 victory. For the second night in a row, the Bees slammed three home runs and received six scoreless innings from their starter. This time, Alex Caldera was the victorious pitcher, and the Bees are now just one win away from the Midwest League Title.

The Bees offense wasted little time getting to South Bend starter Christian Beltre. Beltre (13-8, 3.53 ERA) led the Silver Hawk staff in both victories and innings pitched this season, but he lasted just two-thirds of an inning after being tagged for five runs in the first.

David Lough got things started for the Bees in the first inning by drilling a leadoff solo home run. Second baseman Johnny Giavotella then singled and advanced to third on a Mike Moustakas double. After Lough scored on an RBI groundout by Clint Robinson, Nick Van Stratten doubled home Moustakas, and Jamar Walton deposited a pitch over the center field wall for a two-run homer. The home run by Walton was his second of the series, and third of the postseason. South Bend went to the bullpen after a Juan Rivera single, and reliever Tom Layne was able to record the third out, but not before the Bees had batted around.

The Bees plated two more runs in the second inning, thanks to a leadoff walk by Lough and a two-run homer by Giavotella, his second of the series. On the day, Giavotella was 3-for-4 with three RBIs and three runs scored.

The game was put out of reach by another offensive explosion in the third inning, when the Bees added five more runs for a 12-0 lead. With one out, Rivera drew a walk, and catcher Ryan Eigsti doubled him home. Lough followed with his second walk of the game, and he advanced to third on an RBI single by Giavotella, which scored Eigsti. After Moustakas drove in Lough with an RBI groundout, first baseman Jason Taylor singled to knock in Giavotella, and he later scored on an RBI double by Van Stratten.

All the offense was far more than Bees starting pitcher Alex Caldera needed, as he held the Silver Hawk batters at bay. Caldera struggled a bit in his prior two appearances against South Bend, compiling an 0-1 record with a 4.62 ERA in 11.2 innings pitched, but he had no problems on Thursday night. The 22-year old right hander tossed six shutout innings to pick up the win, scattering three hits and three walks while striking out six. The Silver Hawks never threatened against Caldera, getting just one runner into scoring position.

For the second straight night, the bullpen was every bit as good as the starting pitching, as three Bees relievers worked the final three frames. Joe Augustine, Jacob Rodriguez, and Zach Peterson each threw one scoreless inning apiece, combining to allow just one hit and no walks while striking out three.

The win was the Bees' sixth straight in the playoffs, and with a win tomorrow, they could sweep their way through the postseason with a perfect 7-0 record. The series now shifts to South Bend, with Friday night's first pitch scheduled for 5:30 PM CST.

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