PORT HARDY — Len Miller of the Port Hardy Blue Sox dominated the highlight reel. Load ’em Up was happy to settle for the cash.
Mike Cox and Jim Johnson each had three hits and drove in four runs Sunday as Load ’em Up outdueled the Blue Sox 5-2 in the A final of the annual Umpires Icebreaker Slo-Pitch Tournament at Beaver Harbour Park.
The tourney was played in a skins format that awarded a $60 payout for each inning won. Load ’em Up claimed $300 for its five winning innings, along with another $150 earned during its semifinal victory over the Master Batters earlier in the day.
Load ’em Up took control of Sunday’s final by claiming three skins in the critical fourth inning. After Miller’s three-run home run in the bottom of the first inning gave the Blue Sox the first skin, the teams tied both the second and third innings and carried over those skins to the fourth.
Jake Colbourne’s RBI double scored Justin Gelinas with a single run in the top of the inning, and Load ’em Up made the run stand up by shutting out the Blue Sox in the bottom half.
The Blue Sox closed to 3-2 with a skin in the fifth inning as Brayden Demoe tripled and Jordan Campbell and Leigh Deans provided run-scoring singles.
But Load ’em Up clinched the victory by winning the sixth inning on Jim Johnson’s two-run single, and added the final skin for good measure on run-scoring doubles by Gelinas and Cox and another RBI single from Johnson.
Needing four runs to force a carry-over inning for the final skin, the Blue Sox got three of them on Carla Wagner’s two-run single and Miller’s second sacrifice fly of the game. But with runners on the corners and just one out, the Blue Sox ran into a game-ending double play and settled for a $120 runner-up payout.
The Blue Sox had a particularly tough time when the sun came out in the third inning. Several fly balls were lost in the sun by fielders over the final five innings and dropped safely to the turf as Load ’em Up baserunners advanced.
Miller got the game off to a rousing start by racing to his left in center field and diving to rob Cox of an extra-base hit. He then came up in the bottom of the inning and lofted a towering shot over the fence in right center with two runners aboard.
Miller finished 2-for-2 with five RBIs for the Blue Sox. Teammates Campbell and Demoe each went 3-for-4 with three runs scored and Wagner was 3-for-4 with three RBIs.
Colbourne went 4-for-4 with three runs and an RBI for Load ’em Up.
In the B final, the Bush Rats downed the Bulls 5-2 to claim a $300 prize. Each of the finals was worth $60 per inning, while other playoff games had varying smaller prize amounts.
Umpires Icebreaker Tournament
At Beaver Harbour Park
Final: Load ’em Up 5, Blue Sox 2
Semifinals: Load ’em Up 5, Master Batters 2; Blue Sox 7, Salmon Kings 0.
Consolation: High-Vis 4, Port Alice 3
Final: Rats 5, Bulls 2
Semifinals: Bulls 6, Bandits 1; Bush Rats 7, Eagles 0.
Play-in: Bandits 6, Ballerz 1.