In the world of Yellowknife fastball, the recent trend is that one team seems to go on a roll when it comes to tournaments.
Right now, the Gastown Giants are that team and they continued their run of luck last weekend.
The Giants claimed the first big tournament of 2022, the Yk Fastball League’s Summer Showdown, comprising seven entrants at Tommy Forrest Ball Park on June 26. They beat the Slades Expos in the championship contest by a score of 12-1 in a four-inning mercy (10-run differential or better after four innings). It’s the third straight tournament win for the Giants; they captured the Yk Fastball League playoff tournament title in August 2021 and the NWT Men’s Fastpitch Championship the month prior to that.
Garrett Hinchey, who pitched in the final for the Giants, said they rode the momentum they had during the playoff round.
“We had a long and really competitive semifinal that went to extra innings, and we wanted to try and keep that energy,” he said.
The semifinal Hinchey speaks of was against the Fire Prevention Prospectors, a team against whom the Giants have already had several close contests. This time, the Giants were able to once again overcome the Prospectors, 7-6, in eight innings, a game the Gastown squad never led until the final inning. The Expos, meanwhile, advanced to the final courtesy of a 4-0 shutout win over the Optimum Crush Rockies.
“Every time we play (the Prospectors), it’s always close,” said Hinchey. “We’ve had 1-0 games, 2-1 games, 9-8 games — it always seems to be one-run contests and they’re always great games to play in.”
In the final, the Giants did almost all of their damage in the first two innings as they put up a five-spot in each of the first and second innings while the Expos could only answer with one. That was enough to chase Expos starter Mitch Madsen from the game in favour of Devin Penney, who held the Giants to just two runs over his two innings of work, but the gap was just too much for the Expos to overcome.
Hinchey had some nice words for the Expos, saying they played great all weekend and earned their spot in the final.
“They beat us earlier in the tournament, so we knew we would have to come out big against them,” he said. “We didn’t expect we would come out and score a bunch right off the bat, especially after the semifinal game, but they played amazing. They’ve rebuilt that team from the glory days with almost a whole new group of guys and they’re playing really well together. You can tell they’ve hit their stride.”
The final was the third game of the day for the Giants and it was also the third time Hinchey had to chuck.
He said he was hoping to go as long as he could, knowing Andy Williams, the Giants’ other pitcher, could come in if things went awry.
“Getting that many runs early made things easy for me,” he said. “I was lucky I could hold those guys and having Andy there just in case gave us a great option.”
Having won their third consecutive tournament, Hinchey said the Giants definitely feel like the hunted when it comes to tournament play.
And that’s a nice feeling to have.
“I’m really happy with how we’re all playing, but we can’t take it for granted,” he said. “All of the teams are really balanced from top to bottom right now and it comes in waves in this league. We’re riding our wave right now and we’ll do that for as long as we can. It’s nice knowing we have a good shot at winning every time we play.”