SCHAUMBURG, Ill. – The Wild Things are playing in the Frontier League’s championship series for the fourth time in their 19-season history.
And for the first time, Washington will have to play catch-up baseball after one game.
Schaumburg hit three home runs – one the inside-the-park variety – and Kyle Arjona took a shutout into the eighth inning as the Boomers defeated the Wild Things 4-0 in Game 1 Tuesday night at Wintrust Field.
It was the first time Washington, which is still seeking its first Frontier League championship, has lost Game 1 in the finals.
Schaumburg broke up a pitcher’s duel between Arjona and Washington’s Ryan Hennen with a pair of home runs in the fifth inning. Clint Hardy started the inning by belting a 1-2 pitch over the outfield wall for his second home run of the postseason.
Two batters and five pitches later, Schaumburg’s Angelo Gumbs hit a fly ball down the right-field line. Washington’s Bralin Jackson attempted to make a diving catch but missed and the ball bounced away. By the time Jackson tracked it down, Gumbs was well on his way to third base and he wasn’t stopping.
Washington’s relay, however, went to third base, allowing Gumbs an uncontested play at home plate and an inside-the-park home run that made it 2-0.
That was all the support Arjona needed. The righthander allowed six hits in 7 2/3 innings, did not walk a batter and struck out eight.
Washington, which won its semifinal series against Quebec despite a team batting average of only .174, finished with six hits. The Wild Things hurt their case early, having two baserunners thrown out trying to steal.
Washington has scored in only one of its last 18 innings and two of 21.
Hennen, who was both the Frontier League Pitcher of the Year and its Rookie of the Year, left the game after issuing a leadoff walk in the seventh inning and getting a visit on the mound from the team’s trainer. Hennen allowed seven hits and walked a season-high five. He struck out six.
Two batters after Hennen’s exit, Chase Dawson hit a two-run homer off reliever Kevin McNorton to make the score 4-0.
Game 2 of the best-of-5 series is tonight (7:35 p.m.) before play shifts to Wild Things Park for Game 3 Friday night.