Czech Homer Helps Wild Things Even Series
Andrew Czech hit a two-run homerun with two down in the top of the ninth inning to help the Washington Wild Things earn a 6-5 victory over the Schaumburg Boomers on Wednesday. That evened the Frontier League Championship series at one. The loss spoiled a big night for Braxton Davidson, who homered and drove in three.
This was a wild first inning that saw both teams put up three runs. Washington got things going when Scotty Dubrule led off the contest with his first homerun of the postseason. Two batters later, Nick Ward and Bralin Jackson followed with back-to-back singles. Next up was Grant Heyman, who had a ground ball to first, but the ball was misplayed, allowing Heyman to reach safely, loading the bases. That brought Hector Roa to the plate, who singled up the middle, driving home Ward to extend the lead to two. Trevor Casanova then beat out a single, scoring Jackson to make it a 3-0 Wild Things lead. Washington had their opportunity to extend the lead, but a line drive by Tristan Peterson was grabbed by Matt McGarry. McGarry fired the ball across to first, doubling up Casanova in the frame.
It looked like Washington was in the driver’s seat, but Schaumburg responded with three of their own in the bottom half of the frame. Alec Craig led off with a base hit but Wild Things starter Daren Osby retired the next two batters. It looked like the inning would end quickly, but Quincy Nieporte drew a walk bringing Davidson to the plate. He drilled the first pitch he saw for a three-run homer to tie the score at three.
In the second, Schaumburg took the lead. Osby retired the first batter of the inning, but Nick Oddo reached on a walk and moved to second on a single by Luke Becker. A walk to Craig loaded the bases before Clint Hardy was hit by a pitch, driving home Oddo to give the Boomers a 4-3 lead. Schaumburg had the opportunity to extend their advantage, but a fielder’s choice gunned Becker at the plate and Nieporte grounded out to the pitcher to end the inning.
Washington responded in the top of the third to tie the score. Jackson led off with a single and it looked like he would move no further as Geoff Bramblett retired the next two batters. However, after Jackson had moved to second on a ground out, Casanova brought him home with an RBI single to tie the score at four.
The Boomers retook the lead right away. Matt Bottcher doubled with one down. Walks to Angelo Gumbs and Becker loaded the bases with two outs, bringing Craig to the plate. He was hit by a pitch, driving Bottcher home to give Schaumburg a 5-4 lead.
The teams had combined for nine runs through the first three frames, but the bats suddenly went silent. Neither team was able to get on the board from the fourth through the eighth innings, as the bullpens took over and were dominant. Dylan Beasley came on in the third for Washington, and allowed one run in three innings. BJ Sabol took over in the sixth and was absolutely dominant, allowing one hit while striking out six.
Schaumburg was getting outstanding relief as well. Bramblett came out after four, as Jake Joyce took over. He pitched 1.2 innings of scoreless relief, striking out four. Darrell Thompson took over with two down in the sixth inning and tossed 1.1 innings of scoreless relief, striking out three.
Jack Snyder took over for the Boomers in the top of the eighth, and loaded the bases with one down, but got out of the inning when he struck out Jackson and Heyman to end the threat. However, it was clear that the Wild Things were not intimidated by Snyder at all. In the top of the ninth, Roa led off with a base hit. Snyder struck out the next two batters and had put his team in prime position to take a 2-0 lead in the series, but Czech had other ideas. He drilled a 1-1 pitch over the wall in right field to put his team on top, 6-5.
In the ninth, Washington sent Zach Strecker to close it out. He retired Schaumburg in order to preserve the one run victory, tying the series at one.
Sabol earned the victory, his third of the playoffs. Strecker earn his second save of the postseason. Ward finished with four hits for Washington. Jackson had two hits and scored two runs.
These teams will have a day off on Thursday before traveling to Washington for Game 3 on Friday. Ryan Middendorf (1-0) will go for Schaumburg. Alex Boshers (0-0) gets to start for Washington. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.
by Robert Pannier