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Mother Nature sure has a way of screwing things up.

Such as ensuring the 2017 Yk Fastball League season went one more day than expected.

James McCarthy/NNSL photo
Curtis Gibeau of the Fire Prevention Blue Jays puts bat to ball during the Yk Fastball League’s playoff tournament semifinals at Tommy Forrest Ball Park on Saturday.

Not that the teams in the final were complaining because it meant they would get to celebrate one day later.

The final featured two teams that knew about winning. The 2017 NWT Men’s Fastpitch Championship winners, the Fire Prevention Blue Jays, and the defending league champions from 2016, the Optimum Crush Rockies. In the end, the Blue Jays turned the double as they defeated the Rockies by a score of 4-2 on Monday night at Tommy Forrest Ball Park.

Blue Jays captain Devon Bouillon said it was a great finish, but too nerve-wracking for his liking.

“It was a lot closer than it needed to be,” he said. “We knew we had to get on them right away and most teams start getting frazzled when they get a few runs scored on them right off the bat.”

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The Blue Jays finished second in their pool following the round-robin. Their only loss came at the hands of the Home Building Centre Cardinals, by a score of 7-6. Riding the arm of pitcher Steve Thomas, the Jays took on the RyLo Orioles in the quarter-final. They managed to come out on top by a score of 3-2, knocking the Orioles out of contention.

The Slades Expos were up next for the Jays in the semifinal. The Jays ran out to a 6-0 lead by the third inning, chasing Expos starter Paul Gard from the game. Greg Skauge came on as relief and managed to hold the Blue Jays to one run the rest of the way. The Jays managed to do enough to hold on for a 7-2 win to book their place in the final.

The Rockies began defence of their title in the round-robin with a 14-5 win over the Cardinals, but fell to the Jays by a score of 3-2 after that. Their record was still good enough to get them into a semifinal, which came against the Racquet Club Trappers. In similar fashion to the Jays, the Rockies managed to do enough damage early on to win by a score of 7-3 and clinch a second straight final in as many years.

The final, scheduled to happen right after the second semifinal, saw thunder and lightning right before the game, and the rain that followed caused umpires to postpone the game to Monday evening.

When the game finally got going, the Jays preyed on some sloppy Rockies defence to score two runs in the first and second innings. It turned out to be all the offence they needed as Thomas shut the door for the rest of the game.

The Rockies didn’t go quietly, though, as they tried to play small ball in the bottom of the seventh and it nearly worked. Problem was they could only put one run across as Thomas shut the door to clinch the title for the Jays.

“They’ve (Rockies) done it to us before and they’re definitely capable of it,” said Bouillon. “They dropped a couple of balls early on and we just took advantage of it.”

For the Rockies, their reign as champions came to an end after one year at the top, but there was still some satisfaction among the Rockies in getting into the title game for a second consecutive year.

Herb Mathisen of the Rockies said they ran into a hot pitcher who was lights out all weekend.

“You just have to tip your cap to him,” he said. “They got the hits when they needed them and we just couldn’t string any offence together. Didn’t help that we made some untimely and uncharacteristic mistakes. They got up on us early and we tried to force things a bit, but Steve pitched a hell of a game.”

While Thomas pitched a gem for the Jays, Rockies starter Mardie Graham was every bit as good and pitched a championship-calibre game, said Mathisen.

“Mardie pitched an awesome game and kept us in it,” he said. “He gave us a chance and it was a championship performance from him.”

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