MANTECA BULLETIN ALL-AREA BASEBALL TEAM
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
• Dominic Nelson, Ripon Christian senior: Southern League’s Outstanding Offensive Player put up video-game-like numbers, including a .608/.663/.873 slash line, an area-high 48 hits, 31 RBIs, 14 doubles, two triples and a homer.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
• Chris Saenz, Ripon Christian senior: A reliable shortstop boasting a .959 fielding percentage (45 assists, 9 double plays, 3 errors), Saenz was also a threat offensively with a .347 average, 22 runs, and 24 RBIs.
PITCHER OF THE YEAR
• Jordan Kron, East Union senior: Four-year standout is heading to UC Riverside after posting a 1.75 ERA, 8-2 record and 73 strikeouts in 68 innings as a senior. Also drilled 13 extra-base hits to go with a team-high .368 average.
• Caleb Rogers, Ripon junior: Ace pitcher went 8-2 and was on the mound for the majority of the Indians’ 14 wins. Held a sparkling 1.15 ERA and struck out 63 in 61 innings.
• Buddy Reeder, Manteca junior: Longtime batterymate of All-Area MVP Jake Corn broke out with a team-high .463 average, 31 hits (nine for extra bases) and 15 RBIs.
• Dakota Conners, Sierra junior: Helped end the Timberwolves’ playoff drought by routinely making tough plays at shortstop while hitting .294 with 16 RBIs.
• Mikey Pereznegron, Lathrop senior: The best player to come out of fourth-year Lathrop batted .517 with 31 hits, 18 runs, two homers, six doubles and three triples.
• Fotios Jordanoglou, Ripon senior: Ripon’s sparkplug led the team with 30 hits, 26 runs 18 stolen bases and 10 multiple-base hits while hitting for a .353 average.
• Jacob Souza, Sierra sophomore: Souza’s .333 batting average, 27 hits, 20 runs, 17 RBIs and eight extra-base hits were all team-highs.
• Dominic Pisano, Manteca sophomore: Second-year underclassman continued to prove his worth at the varsity level, hitting .400 as a top-of-the-order threat while aptly patrolling centerfield defensively.
• Scott Robison, Ripon senior: Compiled a .347/.500/.542 slash line and batted in a team-high 25 runs while plating 22 and roping 25 hits.
• Jon Vander Molen, Ripon Christian senior: Two-time All-Area selection paced the Knights with 35 runs and four jacks while hitting .348.
• Travis Vander Molen, Ripon Christian freshman: RC’s youngest starter didn’t play like it, raking for a .464 average, 32 hits and 30 runs while splitting time as a SS, 3B and P. Was 4-1 with a 2.78 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 40 1/3 innings from the mound.
• Lucas Vaughn, Manteca junior: Hilmar transfer made an immediate impact as the Buffaloes’ SS, 3B, reliever and starting pitcher, finishing with a .373 average in the regular season and a 2.00 ERA with 42 strikeouts in 35 innings.
— Jonamar Jacinto
Jake Corn let the cat out of the bag to kick off his final high school summer.
The Manteca incoming senior went on record announcing he has verbally committed to the University of Oregon.
“It’s already verbal,” said Corn, the Bulletin’s 2013 All-Area Baseball MVP. “Their campus is gorgeous and everything around is so green. Their baseball field is amazing, and their facilities are the best.”
Corn, who has led Manteca into the Sac-Joaquin Section IV postseason in back-to-back years, went 11-1 on the bump, including two playoff wins. Corn helped Manteca finish 10-4 in the Valley Oak League, 18-9 overall, but Oakdale took home the VOL title for a seventh time in a row.
“I thought we started off amazing,” Corn said. “And then we (lost) two to Oakdale, and they took that VOL. We were still pretty good and had to focus on sections, but that didn’t really go our way either.”
During the section tournament, Manteca opened up with a familiar foe in El Dorado in the first round. The Cougars of Placerville eliminated the Buffaloes 2-1 in 2012, a game that lasted 10 innings and saw Corn throw eight of those totaling 18 strikeouts. He only gave up two hits and a run, but El Dorado scored the game-winner in the 10th inning after a pitching change was made.
“Justin Dillon and I threw eight or nine innings that game” Corn reiterated. “That kid was pretty darn good. He’s the second starter at Sacramento State right now.”
Corn and the Buffaloes returned for redemption on May 15, knocking off El Dorado, 6-1. The win propelled Manteca, who hasn’t won a VOL title since 1985, into a best-of-three semifinal series against Central Catholic.
On May 18, Central Catholic, which eventually lost in the section championship game against powerhouse Oakdale, knocked off the Buffaloes 12-6. Central went up 1-0 in the series, but then it had to face Manteca’s ace three days later.
“I felt like we could have been in the championship,” Corn said. “(Central) they could swing it pretty well. We hit their pitching, but they could swing the bat a little bit.”
Central Catholic (24-7) averaged eight runs a game against Manteca despite losing the second one 13-6, which tied the series at one apiece. The tiebreaker followed and the Buffaloes came up short, 6-5, in eight innings at Lodi’s Tony Zupo Field.
“The better the team is he’s facing, the more he wants it,” Manteca head coach Gene Ballardo said. “That’s just how he is.
“He’s very calm and he controls his emotions very well. He’s not a rah-rah type of guy, he just goes out there and does his work. He definitely leads by example.”
During his sophomore season as a Buffalo, Corn only lost one start and recorded over 100 strikeouts. He was brought up to the varsity team as a freshman, getting the opportunity to experience the Buffaloes’ ride to their first-ever section final where they fell against Oakdale, 14-4.
For his efforts in 2013, Corn was recognized as a VOL All-League first teamer for a second straight season. He was also honored as the ball club’s MVP at the team awards.
“He’s only a junior, so he didn’t qualify for all the All-Star games,” Ballardo said. “But next year we obviously hope that he has another great year. He’s the type of person that will build on this year. He wants to go deeper in the playoffs as well.
“And at the next level, he’s going to get so much better because of all the technology and the coaching that will suit his abilities. I expect to hear from him down the road.”
Oregon’s sixth-year head coach George Horton has been the skipper since the school re-opened its baseball program in 2009. The Ducks had no team from 1982 through 2008 and made its only College World Series appearance in 1954.
“I went up there and checked it out,” Corn said. “Coach (Horton) sat me down and told me what the deal was, and they gave me an offer.”
An offer he couldn’t refuse.
“It was right around 85 or 90 percent” he said. “(Horton) is probably one of the best college coaches around. I was a little shaky on Oregon because of the weather. I heard it was pretty bad. But if those guys can play through it, I figure I can too.”