Steve McQuail hit a walk-off homer on the first pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning as the West Division Champion Schaumburg Boomers opened the Frontier League playoffs with an 8-7 victory over the Florence Freedom, taking a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
McQuail's homered cleared the wall in center for his second of the game, handing Daniel DeSimone the loss. Florence had battled back from down 6-2 to tie the contest in the top of the ninth. The first two batters of the inning reached base before Byron Wiley homered to right to tie the game.
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The visiting Freedom, who sported a 5-1 record against the Boomers this season, built a 2-0 lead with single runs in the first two innings against Schaumburg starter Chris Phelan. Phelan worked 61⁄3 innings and allowed 3 runs, working around early troubles to leave in line for the win.
The Boomers grabbed the lead with 3 second-inning runs behind a pair of homers. McQuail led off the inning with his first of the night, and two batters later Frank Pfister connected on a 2-run blast off Florence starter Andy Clark for the lead. The Boomers had not hit a pair of homers in an inning all season.
Jordan Dean extended the lead to 6-2 with a bases-clearing double in the sixth. Florence slowly chipped away at the lead with runs in the seventh and eighth before Alexi Colon scored an insurance run on a wild pitch in the bottom of the inning.
Dexter Price ended up as the winner despite blowing the save. McQuail, Gerard Hall and Brian McConkey posted 2 hits apiece for the Boomers. McQuail hit the first walk-off homer in team history earlier this season (May 28).
The Boomers (59-37, 1-0) continue the series at home Sunday at 5 p.m. Right-hander Shawn Sanford (10-6, 2.97) starts for the Boomers, with Florence sending righty Casey Henn (5-0, 3.67).