Extra innings in the Frontier League have a familiar format starting in the 10th. The batter that recorded the final out of the ninth inning starts at second base.
But if things go to the 11th inning, the home team decides whether to bat or go in the field. The team at bat puts a runner at first. If the batting team scores, that team wins the game. But if the team on defense retires the side, that team wins.
The Florence Y’alls (29-37 overall) found themselves headed toward that 11th inning scenario if they did not score with the bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the 10th inning tied 1-1 with the Frontier League West Division rival Schaumburg (Illinois) Boomers (34-31). But first baseman Bryant Flete singled in shortstop Alberti Chavez off Schaumburg left-handed closer Darrell Thompson (2-1) to lift Florence to the 2-1 win.
“It was awesome,” said Brian White, Florence manager. “We had opportunities throughout the night where guys were in scoring position and we couldn’t get them across. But they kept fighting, kept grinding. Flete in a tough left-on-left match-up got the job done with two strikes.”
White called Thompson the best closer in the Frontier League. Designated hitter Billy Damon laid down a bunt to lead off the bottom of the 10th and reached on a Schaumburg error moving Chavez to third. After Damon stole second, Thompson struck out Florence right fielder Anthony Brocato.
The Boomers then intentionally walked Florence third baseman Craig Massey to load the bases. Florence second baseman Ethan Stern struck out leading to Flete’s heroics.
Massey went 2 for 2 with three walks to lead the Y’alls.
Both teams scored in the fourth inning. Schaumburg grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth when second baseman William Salas singled in catcher Blake Grant-Parks. The Y’alls tied it in the bottom of the inning when Schaumburg starter Jumpei Akanuma hit Flete with a pitch with the bases loaded scoring Chavez.
Akanuma pitched into the seventh inning striking out three and walking two. Florence starter Jonaiker Villalobos pitched into the sixth inning striking out seven and walking one.
“We’ve been waiting for one like that all year where (the bullpen) came in and dominated,” White said. “Schaumburg has a good offense, good speed. We were able to shut down the run game. Guys came through in tough situations and picked up one another. It made for an exciting game.”
Florence relievers Sean Hughes, Joe Dougherty, Darwin Ramos and Karl Craigie did their jobs before Cameron Pferrer (2-0) took over in the 10th inning. The Boomers had a runner at third base against Pferrer. But Pferrer struck out the next two batters to keep the game tied.
“After the guy got moved over to third, Brian (White) came out and he said we’re going to essentially kind of pitch around this guy. Don’t give (Schaumburg center fielder Chase Dawson) anything good to hit and we’re going for the strikeout here,” Pferrer said. “I tried to start him off with a couple sliders. Once I got to two strikes, I had a pretty good feeling I’d be able to put him away with my fastball, which I was able to.”
Florence plays Schaumburg again at Thomas More Stadium on Wednesday. Game time is 6:31 p.m.