LODI — Manteca High School rallied from a 6-0 deficit to win the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV baseball championship 7-6 on a walk-off single by Alex Jorgensen in the bottom of the seventh inning Monday evening at Tony Zupo Field.
Surely, when Jorgensen woke up on Memorial Day, he couldn’t have imagined he’d accomplish something as memorable as securing the first section baseball crown in school history.
“Actually, I dreamed last night that I won the game with a walk-off,” said Jorgensen, who should now probably concentrate on dreaming up next week’s Lotto numbers. “Except last night it was a home run. This is just as good.”
It’s better, because his single between third and short off Michael Majeski was not a dream. It was the real deal.
“Things looked pretty bleak in the beginning,” Manteca coach Neil MacDannald said. “But the way we fought back and the leadership on this team … you just knew they weren’t going to quit until the bitter end.”
Things looked very bleak after the Eagles (26-6) were able to chase Buffaloes ace Jacob Corn with the score 5-0. Lucas Vaughn relieved and promptly uncorked a wild pitch that allowed a runner on third to race home with Vista del Lago’s sixth run.
“I didn’t let up at all,” said Vaughn, who blanked Vista del Lago over the final 22/3 innings. “I had so much confidence in my defense and myself that I knew that they weren’t going to touch me.
“There’s no better feeling than to win with a walk-off. It’s great.”
With the score knotted 6-6 heading into the bottom of the seventh, Buffaloes third baseman Brandon Landwehr singled sharply between third and short. He was sacrificed to second by Ezequiel Diaz. Joe Menzel popped out behind first base, setting the stage for No. 9 hitter Jorgensen.
The senior got a low inside fastball on a 2-0 count and attacked, driving the ball past the Eagles’ shortstop.
“I was just looking for a strike,” said Jorgensen, who singled in the final two at-bats of his high school career. “I saw it and just turned on it.”
Down by six after four innings, Menzel, who won a Division III section title with the football team in the fall as the Buffaloes’ quarterback, got the comeback started with a walk to lead off the bottom of the fifth. After Jorgensen popped to second, leadoff man Michael Garibay walked. He and Menzel advanced on a wild pitch, and each scored on a single by Dominic Pisano. That brought the Manteca dugout and rooting section to life and chased Vista del Lago ace Andrew Schantz.
Catcher William Reeder singled off reliever Matthew Huddlestun, stole second and moved to third on a single by Corn that plated Pisano. Reeder and Corn scored on an error, cutting the deficit to 6-5.
An inning later, the Buffs (25-3) tied the score when Pisano’s single to right-center plated Jorgensen.
Majeski, the second batter of the game, got things started for the Eagles when he drilled an 0-2 offering over the wall in left field for a 1-0 lead.
An inning later, back-to-back errors by the Buffaloes, a sac bunt and a single by Ryan Kuzinich produced two more runs for 3-0 Vista del Lago lead.
In the third, Majeski struck again, drilling a double to the wall and scoring on a single by Nick Schumacher.
In the top of the fifth, Schantz tripled to drive in Tyler Kaim, who was hit by a pitch, then Schantz scored from third on Vaughn’s wild pitch.
That was about the only mistake Vaughn made.
“Lucas is a shortstop who’s been asked to play third because we didn’t want to break up our middle infield,” MacDannald said. “He’s nothing but a team player. People who set aside their personal agenda for the good of the team, good things happen for them.
“He kept us in it and gave us a chance to win the game.”