Martinez Dominates to Force Game 5 in Frontier League Championship
It was do or die time for the Schaumburg Boomers on Saturday, as the team needed a victory to stay alive in the Frontier League Championship Series. The Boomers needed a big outing from starter Erik Martinez, and the right-hander delivered, allowing one run in seven innings to lead Schaumburg to a 3-1 victory over the Washington Wild Things. That forced a Game 5, which will be played Sunday evening.
Rob Whalen started for Washington, and was outstanding through the first two frames, retiring all six batters he faced. However, Schaumburg took the lead in the top of the third. Nick Oddo led off with a single. Whalen struck out the next two batters, but Chase Dawson kept the inning alive with the base hit to center. With two on and two down, Quincy Nieporte drove home both runners with a drive to center giving the Boomers a 2-0 lead.
One inning later, Schaumburg extended their lead to three. Clint Hardy was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and Matt Bottcher followed with a single. That brought Angelo Gumbs to the plate, who lined a single into right field. Hardy came around to score to make it a 3-0 Schaumburg lead. This inning could have gotten much worse, but Whalen buckled down, striking out two of the next three batters to end the frame without any further damage.
The three runs were more than enough for Martinez. He gave up a leadoff single in the bottom of the first, then got a double-play grounder to squash any Wild Things ideas about an early rally. Washington had a single batter reach in each of the first three innings, but came away with nothing. After retiring the final two batters of the third inning, the Schaumburg right-hander got on a roll, retiring nine straight.
In the sixth, his run finally came to an end and it looked like Washington would get a little rally started. After Andrew Czech struck out to start the inning, Scotty Dubrule walked. Two batters later Nick Ward singled to give the Wild Things two baserunners in the same inning for the first time in the contest. However, Martinez was not going to give up his three-run lead that easily, striking out Tristan Peterson to end the inning.
Martinez carried the shutout into the eighth inning, but gave up back-to-back walks to Czech and Dubrule to start the frame. That brought a call to the bullpen as the night was over for the Schaumburg starter. Martinez went seven innings, allowing four hits and four walks while striking out eight.
Jack Snyder came on and walked Andrew Sohn to load the bases with no one out. It looked like Washington was about to get back into this contest as Ward followed with a sacrifice fly to drive home Czech, but Snyder would allow no further damage, striking out Peterson for the second out of the inning. Darrell Thompson then came on, striking out Grant Heyman to end the threat.
Thompson remained in the contest for the ninth inning. He retired the Wild Things in order to record his first save of the postseason.
The Schaumburg victory now leaves a decisive Game 5 set for Sunday. The Boomers will send Kyle Aronja (2-0) to the hill to face Ryan Hennen (0-1). First pitch is scheduled for 5:35.
by Robert Pannier