AMERICAN CANYON — The Napa National 10-11-12 All-Stars opened the Little League District 53 Tournament with a 14-0, four-inning, mercy-rule victory over St. Helena on a sunny Saturday afternoon at the American Canyon Little League fields.
Lucas Henry and Christian Meineke each hit two home runs for Napa, the most in any area game in the past two years, as they powered their team toward victory.
“That type of offense is almost expected. I have solid batter from 1 to 13,” said Napa National manager Eric Bradford. “I legitimately have seven or eight guys who can hit a home run in any particular at-bat. But more importantly than that, they all hit line drives and go up there hunting for the ball.”
The hunt proved fruitful as Napa National wasted no time grabbing a lead. It picked up three runs in the first inning courtesy of an RBI single from Dylan Chatham and subsequent two-run single from starting pitcher Griffin Messenger, setting the tone for an explosive performance.
Henry’s first long bomb came in the second inning, with two outs and the bases empty. He cracked a pitch up in the zone and took it for a ride over the fence in dead-center to give his squad a 4-0 lead.
“Get out of here! Hit my car! Hit my car!,” shouted an eager parent standing next to the dugout. Fortunately for all the parked cars in the area, Henry’s homer landed just short of the cars parked along Hess Road.
As the rest of the Napa squad left the dugout to celebrate with Henry, his big-bat antics rubbed off on his teammates and led to even more fireworks in the third inning.
“I think it just takes the pressure off everyone else,” Henry smiled. “They don’t feel like they have to do anything. They can just put up easy swings and swing as hard as they can.”
After opening the third inning with a pair of quick outs, Napa managed a stellar six-run rally that effectively put the game out of reach.
Mason Bartlett and Jacob Weaver each knocked in a run before Henry plated them both with an RBI double. With Henry at second base, Meineke unleashed his own home run to deep-right center to put an exclamation point on a major inning.
“It feels really good to see the ball go that far. Of course, I’m kind of used to this playing for (Jimmy) Vasser,” Meineke said of the Tournament of Champions runners-up. “To do this in All-Stars is really awesome. I kind of struggled a bit at first, but then I found my swing.”
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Trailing 10-0, St. Helena looked to get something going at the plate in the bottom of the third as it loaded the bases. But Henry was determined to thwart any chance of a comeback from the Upvalley squad, striking out Joaquin Villegas to end the inning in relief.
For good measure, Napa National put up four more runs in the fourth inning, highlighted by back-to-back jacks from none other than Henry and Meineke.
Henry loves teeing off on high pitches, and he did exactly that as he extended the lead to 13-0. This time his deep shot did hit a vehicle, smacking off a ladder atop a green truck just beyond the left-center wall.
“I wanted to hit a car,” Henry laughed. “My brother fouled one off and broke a Lexus windshield one time and I’ve always wanted to do that.”
Meineke wanted a second home for himself, and promptly cranked one over the right-field fence, thankfully nowhere near any cars.
Henry finished the day going 3 for 4 at the plate with two homers and five RBIs, while pitching 1 2/3 innings and striking out three.
Meineke was 2 for 3 with three RBIs on his two deep shots. Those performances were supported by multi-hit outings from Tyler Bradford (2 for 4), Henry Meyers (3 for 4) and Messenger (2 for 2).
St. Helena was led by starting pitcher Spencer Nelson, who pitched 2 2/3 innings and went 1 for 1 at the plate with a double and a walk.
“We came into the game a little bit on our heels,” said St. Helena manager Joe Herdell. “Napa National has always got a really good team, so we expected good baseball and they showed us good baseball. I don’t think our guys made many mistakes, they just hit the ball where we weren’t. When a team hits four home runs, they’re obviously doing something right.”
St. Helena continued tournament play Tuesday by squaring off with a Vallejo American team that lost 12-4 to Napa American on Saturday afternoon.