The opponent may have been different this year for the Fire Prevention Prospectors but the end result of the Yk Fastball League’s championship game was still the same.
The Prospectors are once again your champions as they beat the Matonabee Petroleum Trappers in the title contest at Tommy Forrest Ball Park on Aug. 22 by a score of 5-0. Steve Thomas shut down the Trappers on the rubber as he pitched what was his third straight shutout in the playoff tournament, counting back to the team’s last round-robin game.
Thomas said he knew the Trappers would be a tough nut to crack.
“They have a solid bunch and even missing a couple of their guys, they were going to be tough,” he said.
The playoff format this year differed from past years. Instead of a weekend tournament, the league went with a week-long round-robin with the six teams placed in two groups based on the final regular season standings. The teams finishing first, fourth and sixth went into one group while the second, third and fifth-place teams made up the other.
The teams which won their pool received a bye to the semifinal round while the second and third-place teams would play in the quarter-final. The Prospectors would get past the Slades Expos in their semifinal, which they won in a 7-0 mercy, while the Trappers took down the Optimum Crush Rockies in the other final-four contest.
The first three innings of the final were scoreless as Trappers pitcher Devin Hinchey managed to go toe-to-toe with Thomas. The Prospectors drew first blood in the fourth inning with one run, followed by two more in the fifth and sixth innings respectively. Thomas then closed the door on the Trappers in the top of the seventh inning to secure victory and a repeat championship.
“Devin was pitching his third game of the day and he was keeping the ball in the ballpark,” said Thomas. “He had great defence behind him and they made it tough for us, like they did all tournament for everyone else.”
And so ends the first season of the league under Covid-19. The league was the first to get going in the NWT back in June and was also the first recreational sports leagues in Canada to begin play, beating out a league in Manitoba by a few days.
Garrett Hinchey, the league’s president, said given everything that’s happened this year, he would rate the season nine out of 10.
“The guys were really flexible with everything,” he said. “We did have a weird year in terms of what Covid did and made things strange but everyone was great. They all knew it would be a strange season and us having to do things differently. I’m personally pleased that the league responded to all of it. It wasn’t a fight to get people to do what needed to be done.”
There was one incident during the season where the league had to respond to a complaint about distancing but Hinchey said it was dealt with in quick order.
“People, in general, were really receptive to the fact that we had to do things differently,” he said. “You get some grumbling here and there but 99 per cent of it was really easy to deal with. We’re all honestly grateful that we got to play a full season. We didn’t expect to be part of Phase 1 when it was announced in the spring so this a huge victory for all of us.”
Thomas echoed Hinchey’s sentiments, saying all of the changes simple became part of the norm.
“We all had to change habits we had been doing for many years but by the end of the season, it felt normal,” he said. “The only big problem we had this season was the weather and you can’t control that but it went a lot better than I imagined going into this season.”