Schaumburg Boomers Clinch Frontier League Championship, Arjona Named MVP
A three run first inning gave the Schaumburg Boomers the early lead, as the team earned their fourth Frontier League title with a 10-4 victory over the Washington Wild Things on Sunday evening. This helped to complete an exciting comeback that saw Schaumburg win each of the final two games in the series to clinch the championship. Quincy Nieporte was one of the big heroes, driving in four and Matt Bottcher delivered the big first inning blow with a three run homer. Right-hander Kyle Arjona tossed a complete game, earning his third victory in the playoffs and was named as the Frontier League Championship Series MVP by the Minor League Sports Report.
The Boomers looked to leave no doubt that they were going to be champions on this night as they put up three runs in the top of the first inning. After Washington starter Ryan Hennen retired the first batter of the game, Nieporte and Braxton Davidson followed with back-to-back singles. Next up was Clint Hardy who grounded a ball to third, but the only play was to second, leaving runners at the corners with two down. That brought Bottcher to the plate, who turned on a 1-0 pitch, drilling it over the right field wall for his first homerun of the playoffs.
The Wild Things responded with a run in the bottom of the first. Nick Ward led off with a single, stole second base, and moved to third on a sacrifice. Scotty Dubrule followed with a sacrifice fly to bring home Ward to cut the deficit to two.
However, Schaumburg got that run right back in the top of the second. With one down, Matt McGarry doubled into centerfield. He stole third and scored on an Alec Craig sacrifice fly to make it a 4-1 contest.
It stayed that way until the fourth when Schaumburg blew this game open. With Daren Osby on for his second inning of relief for Washington, Nick Oddo led off the inning by drilling a 2-1 offering the opposite way for his second home run of the playoffs. Two batters later, Craig singled and stole second base, but looked like he would remain stranded there as Chase Dawson followed with a fly out. With two down and a runner at second, Nieporte drilled a two-run blast over the wall in left field for his second home run of the playoffs. That brought Davidson to the plate, who fell behind 1-2 before hitting his third homer to make it an 8-1 Boomers lead.
This game was all but over at that point, as Arjona was in complete control. After giving up the first inning run, the right-hander allowed two hits and a walk over the next five innings, retiring 11 batters in a row at one point. He only found himself in trouble in the bottom of the seventh when he issued a walk and hit a batter with two down in the frame, but was able to get Andrew Sohn to ground out to end the threat.
In the eighth, Schaumburg added two more runs. Kevin McNorton took over for Washington and was greeted by back-to-back singles by McGarry and Craig. Both runners moved up on a sacrifice and scored when Nieporte hit a sacrifice fly that brought home both runners. That gave Nieporte four RBI in the contest and nine in the playoffs.
The Wild Things had no answers for Arjona through the first eight innings, but put together a little rally in the bottom of the ninth inning. A hit by pitch and a walk got the inning started, and Hector Roa singled two batters later to load the bases with just one out. Grant Heyman followed with a sacrifice fly that brought home Joe Campagna and Sohn followed with a single that scored Dubrule. Next up was Andrew Czech, who grounded the ball back to the pitcher, but Arjona misplayed the ball, allowing Roa to score to cut the deficit to six. It was a little tense at that point, but the right-hander settled down, getting Tristan Peterson to hit into a fielder’s choice for the final out of the contest as the Schaumburg Boomers became Frontier League Champions for the fourth time in franchise history.
Arjona was named as the series MVP, allowing three earned runs in 16.2 innings. The right-hander earned two victories in the series, tossing 7.2 shutout innings in Game 1 and was the winner in Game 5 with another stellar performance.
By Robert Pannier