The Fort Smith Northstars proved they were the cream of the crop during last weekend’s Coors Slo-pitch Tournament, going undefeated through the round robin and playoffs to capture the title on Monday afternoon.
“It was a really good tournament,” the Northstar’s Matt Bourke said moments after his team defeated the South Slave Selects 12-2 in front of a vocal crowd at Pine Point Ballpark.
“We all had lots of fun, and it was really well organized.”
The Northstars came out of the gate quickly in Monday’s final, scoring two runs in the top of the first to take an early lead.
The Selects responded in their half of the inning, thanks to a one out, run-scoring single by pitcher Brian Dyck.
After both teams went scoreless in the second, the Northstars blew the game open with a five-run third. Fort Smith led off the inning with a double to deep centre, cashing that runner with a one-out single to left field. After quickly loading the bases, the Northstars continued their rally with a single to left field, scoring two. With runners at both second and third, Fort Smith scored one run on a sacrifice fly to deep in centre field. They scored another as the relay throw sailed into their dugout.
After setting down the Selects one-two-three in the bottom of the third, the Northstars solidified their lead with a four-run fourth.
Dyck tried to help his own cause in the bottom of the fourth, lining a pitch over the fence in centre to close the gap to 11-2 after four.
The Northstars led off the fifth with a triple to centre field, bringing the runner home on a one-out single to right field.
Down by 10 heading into the bottom of the fifth, the Selects had to score one run to prolong the game.
The Selects, made up of players from Hay River, Fort Smith, Fort Resolution, Fort Providence, and Yellowknife, had made the final thanks to a
“I think we did all right,” Morin said moments after the game. The team had been able to recover from slow starts in previous games, though they were unable to in the final, Morin said. “When we’re on, we’re on.”
Two Hay River teams were eliminated from play in the semi-finals. Andy’s Auto had gone undefeated through five games en route to a semi-final showdown with the Selects on Monday morning. Despite being up 10-6 heading into the top of the seventh, Andy’s were unable to contain the Selects, who scored five to take a one-run lead.
Andy’s pitcher Kenny Power forced extra innings with a two-out solo home run. Both teams scored one run in their half of the eighth to send the game to the ninth.
The Selects offense exploded for 13 runs in the top of the ninth, blowing the game wide open. Down 25-12 heading into the bottom of the inning, Andy’s quickly scored one run on a sacrifice fly but were unable to muster anymore offense, losing 25-13.
In the other semi-final, Carter’s Crushers faced off against the Northstars. Fort Smith quickly jumped out to a 8-0 lead through three innings before surrendering two runs in the top of the fourth. Neither team was able to score from that point on, with Fort Smith coming out on top, 8-2.
Morin said the Selects are hoping for some revenge at the second annual Fort Smith Mixed Slo Pitch Tournament from August 13-15. The Selects took the inaugural championship last year.
“It should be good,” Morin said. “We’re looking forward to it.”
Bourke said he twelve teams have signed up for the tournament, which features a $10,000 payout.
“We just hope that people will come out to Fort Smith,” he said. “We are taking 12 teams, and I think there are three left.