A no-hitter from its No. 2 pitcher helped Manteca High’s baseball team earn its first Valley Oak League championship in 29 years.
And a walk-off hit from the Buffaloes’ No. 9 hitter completed an improbable come-from-behind victory in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV title game.
The Buffaloes’ latest accomplishment required far less drama.
As expected, Manteca was named the state’s Division III Team of the Year by Cal-Hi Sports on Monday. Sierra’s softball team was crowned Division III state champion in 2013.
The Buffaloes (25-3) captured their first-ever section title on Memorial Day, edging out Vista del Lago 7-6 after trailing by six runs going into the bottom of the fifth inning. Alex Jorgensen capped it off with a walk-off single that scored Brandon Landwehr.
Manteca was ranked No. 2 in the state heading into the section finale with Kaiser (Fontana) holding onto the top spot. Kaiser (25-2) was knocked down to No. 6 after dropping a 2-1 upset to Northview of Covina in the third round of the Southern Section playoffs, opening the door for the Buffaloes to garner their first mythical state title in the 35-plus years that Cal-Hi Sports has compiled its rankings.
“It’s a tremendous honor and accomplishment,” Manteca head coach Neil MacDannald said. “These guys worked incredibly hard, but lots of teams work hard. To reach the level we’ve reached a lot of things have to go right for you. A lot of people have to execute their role with little room for error for an extended period of time.”
Lucas Vaughn’s near-perfect shutout of Sierra in the winner-take-all regular-season finale between the city rivals is one of Manteca’s more memorable moments of the season. Sierra ended up on the “bubble” list in Cal-Hi Sports’ top 10 for Division III. Vista del Lago is fifth.
Oregon-bound Jacob Corn twirled a mercy-shortened perfect game at Weston Ranch en route to earning the VOL’s Most Valuable Player award. Corn and Vaughn also combined for a series shutout of Oakdale, the league’s seven-time defending champion and winners of the previous three SJS Division IV banners.
Clovis High (33-5) is the Division I and overall State Team of the Year. College Park (27-3, Division II), Santa Ynez (29-1, Division IV) and Minarts of O’Neals (29-5, Division V) are other state champs.
“This is something never done before in this city and we are blessed to be able to bring state title to Manteca,” said MacDannald, who also helped guide Manteca’s football team to an SJS Division III title as its offensive coordinator this past fall. “This year’s team wanted to leave a legacy that would be looked up to throughout the ages and I believe they’ve done that.”