While the Wood Bat Tournament was the first official act of the 2018 Yk Fastball League campaign, actual game action didn’t start up until this past weekend.
And it almost didn’t start up at all.
The O-Down Invitational wrapped up on Sunday afternoon at Tommy Forrest Ball Park with a total of nine teams hitting the diamond for action – all seven teams from Yellowknife and two from Hay River. When all was said and done, the Home Building Centre Cardinals ended up on top of the heap thanks to an 11-2 mercy win over the Hay River Pirates. The mercy came after the Cardinals built up enough of a lead after five innings of play.
Ryan Nichols of the Cardinals said they managed to take advantage of a tired Pirates bunch, who were playing their fourth game of the day.
“They only had 10 players on their side and their pitcher was going all day for them,” he said. “We got on them early and never looked back.”
The win for the Cardinals was their second over the Pirates as they won the round-robin encounter the day before by a score of 7-0.
Glen Tingmiak, a familiar face to many in the league in Yellowknife, was the chucker for the Pirates and he was a busy man pitching every single inning to get them into the final. The Pirates started bright and early by defeating the Optimum Crush Rockies in their first game and followed that up by beating the Fire Prevention Blue Jays in the quarter-final. A semifinal win over the Cold Cash Orioles put them into the decider against the Cardinals.
The champs, meanwhile, got to sit and watch the first batch of playoff games before getting into it against the Hay River Heat in the semifinal, a game in which they won, 8-6, to advance to the final.
“For some reason, we always seem to have close games with the Heat but it makes for great ball,” said Nichols.
In the final, the Pirates got on Cardinals pitcher Garrett Hinchey early as they put up two runs in the top of the first inning but the Cardinals got that back and then some as they ripped Tingmiak for seven runs in the bottom half and never looked back from that point.
“Glen was going all day for them and his arm just got tired,” said Nichols. “Having two teams make the trip up from Hay River was great to see, though, and one of them getting to the final was great for the tournament.”
As for the league itself, the regular season was finally able to get underway on Monday night after a week’s worth of postponements thanks to seemingly never-ending rain last week.
Nichols said having the O-Down was a great way for players to get into game shape quickly.
“Having no games before the tournament showed some of the rust but all of the teams had it, even us,” he said. “Some of the easier plays weren’t getting made but that made for a competitive tournament.”