In a wild game that saw both a monumental blunder and the breaking of one of competitive ball’s oldest never-do-that rules in extra innings, the Salliq Invaders (Coral Harbour) scored a pair of runs in their final at bat to defeat Rankin Inlet’s Kativik squad 15-14 and claim the 2018 Calm Air Cup mixed slo-pitch championship.
The Calm Air Cup is a SPN national qualifying event.
Coral dethroned the defending champions, New Era, in their semifinal, while Kativik defeated another strong Rankin team, the Cubs, in their semi to set up the championship tilt.
Also competing in this year’s Calm Air Cup were the Rankin Rebels, the Sons of Pitchers, the Baffin Blue Sox and a combined Chesterfield Inlet/Baker Lake team.
Coral scored a run in the bottom of the seventh to send the championship game into extra innings.
It looked like Coral had won the game in the bottom of the eighth when Kativik hurler James Merritt walked in the winning runs.
It was total chaos moments later when Merritt called for the ball while the Coral players were celebrating, tagged third and then threw to first.
The nationally-qualified umpire gave the out signal and explained to the Coral players that the batter joined the celebration and didn’t run all the way to first base after being walked.
The double play sent the two teams to the ninth inning where Kativik made the decision to go against one of competitive ball’s oldest rules.
Leading by a run with a runner on third and two out, Kativik decided to put the go ahead run on first base and walked the male batter to get to the female on deck.
By this time the balls were hard to grip properly due to a fairly steady rain and, a couple of walks later, Coral were the new champs.
Coral captain Charlie Nakoolak said the win was a sweet one because Coral had come-up empty in three previous trips to the final.
He said for him, personally, the win was extra sweet because his three brothers – Andy, Nigel and Ian – were all on the team with him.
“This feels awesome,” said Charlie.
“We finally did it.
“I didn’t even notice our batter didn’t go to first base in the inning before, but we had to forget about that and continue to play hard.
“It was hard to get pumped-up again after that call, but we got it done in the next inning and that’s all that matters.”
Charlie said Coral entered the tournament feeling confident they could get it done this year.
He said the level of ball at this year’s tournament was high all weekend.
“The competition was awesome and I found all the teams pretty close this year.
“We’re looking forward to finally being able to compete at the nationals.
“Many of the players on our team have been going to tournaments together for the past nine or 10 years, so we know we’ll have a good team going there next year and be competitive.
“Us winning the Calm Air Cup and going to the nationals next year will help grow the sport in Coral too, which is also important to us as a team.”