FAIRFIELD — The wind was relentless and blew all game, constantly blowing up dirt from the infield, but it wasn’t strong enough to keep one ball from leaving the park.
CJ Laui hit a go-ahead three-run home run in the top of the seventh to give the Fairfield Pacific 11- and 12-year-old All-Stars a 5-2 win over Napa National at Cordelia/Tri-Valley Little League, Tuesday.
The win put Fairfield Pacific into the championship game at the same fields, Thursday, at 5:30 p.m., where they will play the winner of Wednesday’s Napa American-Napa National game on Wednesday. A second game would be played Friday at 5:30 p.m. of Fairfield Pacific was to lose.
This was the second game in a row where Laui hit a go-ahead homer in extra-innings for Fairfield Pacific. In the last game, Laui hit a two-run shot in the eighth to right-center against Benicia.
With one out and runners on the corners, Laui hit the first pitch he saw, a curveball from Napa reliever Omar Gonzalez, through the wind and over the fence in right-center.
Fairfield Pacific manager Chris Gabbart said Laui hit 13 home runs in the regular season and has been nothing but clutch in the tournament, adding Laui’s nickname has been changed from “Big Cat” to “Captain Clutch.”
“How you hit a ball out into this wind, I have no idea,” Gabbart said. “(Laui) did an awesome job.”
Before Laui’s at-bat in the seventh, Napa National went to Gonzalez in the top of third inning, after starter Barrett Donohoe allowed two runs on four hits in two innings of work.
Gonzalez came in and struck out seven batters, mostly due to his curveball. He gave up his first hit in the top of the sixth to Pacific’s Victor Martinez.
Cameron Martin led off the top of the seventh with a base-hit and advanced to second on a wild pitch. DJ Scott then reached first on an error, but ended up getting out at second as Carlvesi Light hit into a fielder’s choice, advancing Martin to third.
Fairfield Pacific’s first run came in the first when Scott scored on an error as Napa tried to turn a double-play, but the first baseman was not looking and the ball reached the fence. Scott reached first on a fielder’s choice and advanced to second on a single from Light.
Mateo Ponce scored Fairfield Pacific’s second run in the top of the second. Victor Martinez led off the inning with a single to left. Ponce then came in and singled, advancing Martinez and then Mark Carnesecca drew a walk, advancing all runners. In the next at-bat, Martinez hit a ball to third, reaching first on a fielders choice, as Napa’s Alex Dehzan got the force-out at home. Light then hit a single up the middle, plating Ponce.
“These guys are a band of brothers,” Gabbart said. “They play so hard and they play for each other. They always come up with the big hit when they need to. . . . It is impossible not to root for these guys.”
Starting pitcher Sammy Meadows went 5 1-3 innings, allowing one run on four hits with eight strikeouts. Light went 2 2-3 innings, allowing no hits with one walk and three strikeouts.
Gabbart said his team has taken this tournament one game at a time, but started talking about getting to Thursday (the championship game) for “three weeks now”. Three weeks ago is now for Fairfield Pacific.