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Buffaloes claim first-ever SJS baseball championship

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Manteca’s Alex Jorgensen is congratulated by teammates after his game-winning hit clinched the Buffaloes’ 7-6 win during the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship game Monday night at Lodi’s...

Photo by WAYNE THALLANDER/


POSTED May 27, 2014 1:37 a.m.

LODI – Manteca’s bats came to life during Monday night’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV final against Vista del Lago at Tony Zupo Field – but it wasn’t until the fifth inning.

Vista del Lago’s Andrew Schantz (four strikeouts, three walks) limited the Buffaloes to two runs and four hits in 4 1/3 innings, but after opening the fifth by walking two and giving up a two-RBI double against Dominic Pisano, the Eagles’ head coach Scott Seffens pulled his ace who was on just four days rest.

The Buffaloes (25-3) took advantage by scoring all of their seven runs in the final three innings off three different pitchers en route to a 7-6 victory that propelled them to the school’s first-ever section title on the diamond.

Despite multiple Manteca players making clutch plays while erasing a 6-0 deficit, it was the Buffaloes’ No. 9 hitter Alex Jorgensen who came up with the walk-off, RBI-single that scored Brandon Landwehr for the section-championship winning run.

“We kept clawing back and clawing back,” said Joe Menzel, who opened Manteca’s five-run fifth with a walk and crossed the dish in the fifth and seventh. “That’s what this team does, we don’t give up. We raked the ball in the sixth and (Jorgensen) came up with a huge hit in the seventh. What more can I say? The rest is history.”

All of Manteca’s six runs were surrendered by its University of Oregon-bound senior Jake Corn (4 1/3 innings, seven hits, six runs (four earned), three strikeouts and two walks), who made the start over fellow senior Lucas Vaughn, who ended up entering during the fifth and tallied the victory to finish the season 12-0.

Vaughn closed the last 2 2/3 innings with four strikeouts and gave up one walk and no runs on zero hits.  Corn was pulled after giving up a triple to Schantz in the fifth.

Despite Vaughn not getting the nod from Manteca’s first-year head coach Neil MacDannald, he still got a fair share of playing time from the hill and showed how tough he was mentally – and was never pouty.

“It was a real coin flip of who to go with,” MacDannald said. “But Lucas has been nothing but a team player. I’m a firm believer in people who are willing to sacrifice their own personal agenda, good things are going to happen for them and as a result (Vaughn) won his 12th game tonight.”

Despite Corn struggling from the hill, the Manteca standout didn’t let that take a toll on him at the dish. He still finished 3 for 3 with a walk, doubled off Schantz in the second inning and accounted  for the Buffaloes’ third hit in the fourth frame.

“Even though Jake had some troubles on the mound, he didn’t take it to the batter’s box,” MacDannald added. “He had some great at-bats.”

With the Buffaloes trailing Vista del Lago (26-6) by six, Pisano cut his squad’s deficit to four with a two-RBI double that brought Menzel and Michael Garibay across.

Corn hit the next RBI-single that scored Pisano to make it 6-3 off the Eagles’ first relief pitcher Matthew Huddlestun. After senior catcher Buddy Reeder singled, Vaughn recorded a two-RBI single that scored Corn and Reeder to make it 6-5.

Manteca went entirely through its lineup in the fifth and went into the sixth down a run. The Eagles got a runner on base in each of the final two innings but didn’t threaten.

In the bottom of six with Manteca down a run, Menzel made what was arguably the play of the game.

Menzel, who was also the quarterback of Manteca’s section-championship football team this last fall along with several other players from this team, clearly didn’t want to end his prep career on a losing note.

Menzel put the ball in play and made a head-first dive into first trying to beat out the throw but was called out.

The rest of the Buffaloes followed suit.

Jorgensen (2 for 4, one run, RBI) singled to get on and then Pisano delivered a clutch game-tying RBI single with two outs that tied it and sent Jorgensen back to the dugout.

“I just put the bat on the ball and kept my hands inside to produce for my team,” Pisano said.

Manteca had the bases loaded in the sixth after Reeder singled to put runners on the corners and then Corn drew a walk. However, Manteca wasn’t able to deliver the go-ahead run, yet.

Vaughn closed the seventh and only allowed Schantz on after Manteca committed its third error. He then finished the game by tossing his fourth strikeout.

“The whole year there has been a different guy doing something tough to get it done for the team,” MacDannald said. 

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