Championship games are either studs (really good) or duds (really bad) with seemingly no in-between.
The championship game of the Yk Fastball League at Tommy Forrest Ball Park on Sunday was one of those times the game was a definite stud.
The Fire Prevention Prospectors and Home Building Centre Cardinals did battle in the final, a rematch of the NWT Men’s Fastpitch Championship title game from last month, and this time, it would be the Prospectors who would get the last big title of the fastpitch season thanks to a 3-2 win in extra innings. Steve Thomas drove in Curtis Gibeau with the winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning on a one-out, bases-loaded single.
John Whitford had one of the best seats in the house as he was on second base for the finish and said it was one of the more exciting games he’s been a part of.
“It was a great finish for a league final and I’ve been a part of a few of them over the years,” he said. “To have such a tight game with the top two teams going up against each other, it couldn’t have finished in a better way.”
The Cardinals opened the scoring in the top of the second inning with a single which was answered by the Prospectors in the bottom of the third. The game remained deadlocked at 1-1 until the top of the sixth when Thomas uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Ryan Nichols to scramble home from third to put the Cardinals ahead. That lead lasted exactly half an inning as the Prospctors would tie it up in the bottom half.
The seventh inning solved nothing, meaning bonus softball under the international tiebreak rule with each team having a runner on second base to begin the eighth inning. The Cardinals thought they had the go-ahead run as Brian Couvrette sprayed one to right field only to have Prospectors right-fielder Jeremy Bigger sprawl out to make the seemingly-impossible catch and double up Garrett Hinchey, who was already around third base.
Whitford said it was one of the best catches he’s seen but it came at a price.
“He dislocated his shoulder,” he said. “He stayed in the game to finish the inning but went to the hospital right after.”
The Prospectors would get their chance in the bottom and would manage to advance runner Curtis Gibeau to third, forcing the Cardinals to intentionally walk two Prospectors batters to load the bases and hope for a ground ball to get outs. Thomas, though, would step up and lace one into centre field to score Gibeau and clinch the title.
Whitford wasn’t surprised it was a low-scoring affair.
“Garrett brought his best stuff, even after he wasn’t feeling the best the day before,” he said. “He came out and held us pretty good after puking his guts up. The only time I was wincing was when Brian hit that opposite-field slice but it was a great weekend for everyone and a great way for the league to finish up this season.”