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Mantecas Corn named Valley Oak League MVP; Sierra slugger Pruitt Offensive Player of the Year
Manteca ace Jacob Corn (right) and Sierra catcher Jake Pruitt (left) were the Valley Oak Leagues major award winners. Corn was named MVP after posting a 7-2 record with 103 strikeouts; Pruitt is the Offensive Player of the Year after leading the VOL in hitting. - photo by Bulletin file photos by JOHN-JOEL GRIFFITHS (left); WAYNE THALLANDER (right) Illustration by CURT MU

Valley Oak League champion, Sac-Joaquin Section champion, Most Valuable Player — Manteca High’s Jacob Corn achieved the trifecta in his senior season. 

It was completed Monday when he helped the Buffaloes capture the SJS Division IV title — the first in program history — with a thrilling 7-6 comeback win over Vista del Lago. Corn pitched the first 4 1/3 innings and went 3 for 3 with a double and an RBI from the plate.

The third-year varsity standout was voted MVP of the VOL at the year-end coaches meeting. Sierra catcher Jake Pruitt was named Offensive Player of the Year, and Manteca’s Neil MacDannald is Coach of the Year after guiding the Buffaloes (13-1 VOL, 25-3 overall) to their first league title in 29 years.

Corn emphatically began his campaign for the MVP award, throwing a five-inning perfect game to go with nine strikeouts in Manteca’s league opener at Weston Ranch. Overall, he finished with a 1.13 ERA, 7-2 record and 103 strikeouts (against only nine walks) in 68 1/3 innings. He also batted .408 from the middle of the order and had a solid .953 fielding percentage while splitting time at first base. Corn will continue his career at Oregon on an athletic scholarship.

“Obviously very talented, but Jake is a real joy to coach,” MacDannald said. “There are lots of talented people out there, but he has it where it matters with his work ethic and competitive nature. There were a few other guys in our league who legitimately could have been deserving (of MVP), but it couldn’t have happened to a better kid.”

MacDannald said Manteca had three other MVP candidates. One of them is right-handed Lucas Vaughn, an ace in his own right who complemented the lefty Corn. Vaughn (1.11 ERA, 70 strikeouts, seven walks, 63 innings) was named to the all-league first team and boasts the best record in the state at 12-0. He was the winning pitcher in Monday’s section championship game after he shut down Vista del Lago for 2 2/3 innings in relief.

“There is no rule that says you can’t have two aces,” MacDannald said. “There are five guys in the state of California with 12 wins and he’s one of them.”

Three-year players Buddy Reeder and Dominic Pisano were also MVP worthy in the eyes of MacDannald. On top of being two of the Buffaloes’ top hitters, they were also outstanding defensive players at key positions. 

Reeder, a senior catcher, paced Manteca in batting average (.426), hits (40), RBIs (28) and extra-base hits (16). Other Buffaloes joining him on the All-VOL First Team are Pisano (.407) and senior shortstop Michael Garibay (.420, 35 runs)

Pruitt enjoyed a breakout senior season for runner-up Sierra (12-2, 22-6). He led the VOL in overall batting average (.438), home runs (four), RBIs (34), slugging percentage (.767) and on-base percentage (.596).

Three Timberwolves earned spots on the All-VOL First Team. Cal State East Bay-bound shortstop Dakota Conners had just three errors with an impressive .970 fielding percentage. He was also key on offense, hitting .382 with 10 doubles and 34 RBIs. Junior pitcher Leo Soto (9-0, 1.29 ERA) emerged as one of the league’s top hurlers, and senior right fielder Kyle Oden (.391) tied Conners for the team lead with 34 hits.

East Union (6-8, 7-17) was awarded with one first-team spot, which went to junior infielder Gabe Chavez (.311) Lathrop (2-11-1, 3-19-1) has one representative in second-year sophomore third baseman Keenan Bryant-Donatelli (.319).

East Union’s Marco Gonzales left a good first impression in his sophomore season and made the All-VOL Second Team as a pitcher. He was also the Lancers’ best offensive player. 

Other all-league second-teamers from the area were: Sierra junior pitcher Ryan Vasquez, Lathrop senior catcher Charles Garcia, Manteca senior second baseman Ezequiel Diaz, Weston Ranch sophomore infielder Josh Dilg, Sierra junior second baseman Jake Souza, Lathrop senior shortstop Carlos Estrada and Manteca outfielder Joe Menzel.

Manteca corner infielder/pitcher Alex Jorgensen, Lathrop’s Ricardo Chavez and the Weston Ranch quartet of C.J. Drain, Manuel Rubio, Juan Ramos and Parker Hardy all earned honorable mention.