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.
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).