St. Helena Little League’s 8-10 All-Stars went 2-2 in the District 53 Tournament in American Canyon, becoming only the third SHLL All-Star baseball team in 30 years to record multiple wins, before concluding their impressive run on July 3.
A 9-5 loss to eventual runner-up Sonoma in their June 30 opener forced the St. Helena All-Stars into must-win mode early in the double-elimination tournament. They fell despite four gutsy innings by starting pitcher Elias Kelly, who left the mound with his team ahead 5-4. Adam Herdell provided the offensive highlight with two RBIs during a four-run second inning.
The losers bracket provided a daunting challenge – having to win games on three consecutive days, or go home.
On July 1, St. Helena held on for a thrilling 13-12, walk-off win over host American Canyon. Starting pitcher Charlie Blaum pitched two strong innings and scored three runs, while Huck Anderson, Louis Mario Figueroa, Henry Ray and Herdell each contributed two RBIs. Ray drew a bases-loaded walk to force in the winning run in the bottom of the sixth and final inning, after pitcher Connor Cleland had stopped an American Canyon rally in the top half.
The next day, St. Helena knocked off an opponent from an even bigger town with a 7-4 victory over Vallejo American. Starting pitcher Dominic Bastos-Amaro pitched five strong innings and scored twice. Rupert Glaetzer also scored twice and Figueroa drove in two runs to fuel the St. Helena offense. Clinging to a narrow lead in the last inning, St. Helena’s defense executed three outstanding plays – by Nick Beck at second base, Blaum at shortstop, and Cleland in center field.
On July 3, St. Helena’s luck ran out late in an 18-8 loss to Fairfield Pacific. Key hits from John Oliver and Oliver Harvey sparked a six-run fourth inning that erased a 5-1 deficit. Despite strong pitching by starter Blaum and relievers Ben Brakesman and Beck, the game slipped away on a few key defensive mishaps and some clutch hitting by Fairfield Pacific.