A hot weekend didn’t stop crowds from converging on Grand Forks’ baseball diamonds to watch and play one of the biggest slo-pitch tournaments B.C.’s interior has to offer.
Twenty teams spent the weekend kicking up the dust in the annual Grand Forks Slo-Pitch Classic Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Teams were pitted against each other in rounds of play to see who would make it to the finals on Sunday, where three teams were crowned C Division, B Division and A Division champions.
With team names like Balls Deep, Brew Jays and Tarnished Turkeys, it was clearly a tournament for fun, said co-organizer Tom Starchuk.
By the end, the Shitshows won the A Division, Bomb Squad the B Division and Fast and Loose won C Division.
While there was plenty of shouting and cheering from the stands and the dugouts, the whole purpose of the tournament is to have fun and help support baseball facilities in the city, said Starchuk.
“The reason we do this is to raise money for baseball in the city,” he said. “The money we get from registrations and fees all goes to help improve and maintain the diamonds. Since we started doing this, they look 10 times better than before.”
He added eventually, they would like to put lights up for night games.
Originally, they had 24 teams, but four pulled out, which Starchuk said worked out for them because with the facilities, the tournament could accommodate 20 teams.
This tournament is more a casual event with an emphasis on social time and fundraising, Starchuk said.
“We are not trying to compete with the GFI and never will,” he said. “We are here to have fun and support the city’s facilities.”
If there is any issues this year, it’s costs. With inflation everything is notably more expensive this year, he said. This year’s tournament finances were safe, but if this continues, they may have to think of another kind of prize besides the cash they give out to winners and runners-up.
However, the future is still bright. A majority of the teams told Starchuk they were returning next year, he said, so they will have at least the same number of teams, if not a few more. Out of the 20, only six were from Grand Forks, so the tournament is proving to be popular around the region.
The final game saw the Shitshows win out over Wasted Talent 12-8. Shitshows member Marc Lamarre said they are out of Kelowna and this is their second year and the team was eager to come back.
“Our team is a bunch of other teams mixed together that were happy to come back to play ball and try to win a tournament,” he said. “We lost in the semi-finals to the D-Dags last year. It’s one of our favourite ball tournaments of the year.”
While it’s a casual tournament, some of the players have serious talent. Lamarre said Shitshows member Garrett Weise is heading off to represent Canada in Cleveland, Ohio in the Border Battle Slo-pitch tournament.