Heyman Walk-Off Single Gives Wild Things Lead in Frontier League Championship
Grant Heyman singled with one down in the bottom of the 10th inning to give the Washington Wild Things a 3-2 victory over the Schaumburg Boomers. That gave the team a 2-1 lead in the Frontier League Championship Series. Zach Strecker earned the victory with 1.2 scoreless innings of relief.
This was a spectacular pitcher’s duel between Schaumburg starter Ryan Middendorf and Washington hurler Alex Boshers. Both starters kept the opposing team off the scoreboard through the first six innings of the game.
Middendorf started the contest by retiring the first seven batters he faced. He found himself in a little trouble in the third when he gave up a one-out single to Joe Campagna and a two-out hit to Andrew Sohn but was able to get out of the frame by getting Nick Ward to pop out. That started a stretch of 13 straight batters retired by Middendorf.
Boshers was equally as brilliant. The right-hander retired the first five batters of the game, with a hit by pitch with two down in the top of the second ending his run. Boshers gave up a one-out single to start the third, then retired the next 13 batters.
Neither offense had any answers in this contest, but the Boomers would finally get on the board in the top of the seventh. Boshers retired the first batter of the inning, but then gave up back-to-back singles to Braxton Davidson and Clint Hardy. After retiring Angelo Gumbs, Matt Bottcher was able to muster a ball into center for a base hit, driving home Davidson.
The way that Middendorf was pitching, that one run lead seemed insurmountable. However, the Wild Things would get on the board in the bottom of the eighth. Campagna led off with a base hit, ending the night for the Schaumburg starter. That brought a call to the bullpen, as Darrell Thompson took over. Thompson got Tristan Peterson to ground back to the mound, but his throw to second was wild, allowing both runners to reach. A sacrifice moved both runners into scoring position before Sohn was intentionally walked. With the bases loaded and one down, Thompson uncorked a wild pitch that brought home Campagna to tie the score at one. The inning could have gotten out of hand for the Boomers’ reliever, but he was able to get a pop out before striking out Heyman to end the threat.
Schaumburg retook the lead right away, scoring in the top of the ninth inning. Gumbs struck out to start the frame, but Bottcher followed with a base hit and moved to second on a misplay by the Washington right fielder. That brought a call to the bullpen, as Strecker came on. His second pitch was misplayed for a passed ball, allowing Bottcher to reach third. That led the Wild Things to walk Luke Becker to put runners at the corners. Nick Oddo was then hit by a pitch to load the bases with one down. Strecker looked like he was going to get out of the frame, as Chase Dawson hit a perfect double-play grounder, but the ball got through the Washington second baseman, allowing Bottcher to score. Schaumburg looked like they would extend their lead to two when Alec Craig hit a ball to right field. Becker tagged looking to score on the sacrifice fly attempt, but a great throw by Bralin Jackson nailed Becker at the plate to end the inning.
Trailing by a run once again, Washington was able to battle back to tie the score in the bottom half of the inning. Thomas Nicoll came out of the bullpen and struck out Hector Roa to start the inning, but Trevor Casanova singled, then stole second before Campagna struck out. With two down and a runner at second, Peterson singled into left field, driving home Casanova to tie the score at two.
Strecker returned in the top of the 10th and retired Schaumburg in order. Jake Joyce came on in the bottom of the 10th and was greeted by a Ward single to start the frame. Joyce settled in, striking out Jackson, but found himself in a precarious situation when Ward stole second and advanced to third on an errant throw by Oddo. With a runner at third and one down, Heyman lined a single into center to give Washington the 3-2 victory.
Despite the fact that neither starter earned a decision, both were brilliant. Middendorf allowed four hits and one unearned run in seven innings. He struck out four. Boshers also allowed four hits and one earned run in seven innings. He struck out five.
Campagna finished 2-4 with a run scored for Washington. Peterson was 1-2 with an RBI. Bottcher was 2-4 with a run scored and an RBI for the Boomers.
The Schaumburg Boomers look to stay alive on Saturday when these teams meet for Game 4 of the Frontier League Championship series. Erik Martinez (1-0) will go for Schaumburg. Rob Whalen (1-1) will get the start for the Wild Things. Should Washington win, it will be the first championship in franchise history.
by Robert Pannier