MANTECA — Just like that, Alex Jorgensen’s section title-clinching hit has morphed into a state championship-clinching hit.
Jorgensen’s seventh-inning, walk-off single to left delivered the winning run in Manteca’s 7-6 victory over Vista del Lago (Folsom) in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV finale on May 26 – Memorial Day – at Lodi’s Tony Zupo Field.
Since then, the Buffaloes had to sit and wait to see if anybody from Southern California made a run so impressive that Cal-Hi Sports would vote to leap-frog them in the polls. When that didn’t happen, Manteca was named by Cal-Hi Sports’ Division III Team of the Year. And Jorgensen’s hit took on even more significance.
“I saw (Tuesday) morning that we were named Team of the Year,” said Jorgensen, who plans to play next season at San Joaquin Delta in Stockton. “To bring the first state title of any kind to Manteca High is pretty amazing.”
On the Cal-Hi website, it was pointed out that the state championship capped a magical season for the Buffaloes, whose football team won a section crown and advanced to the CIF NorCal Division II bowl game.
“It’s a tremendous honor and accomplishment to be named the D-III team of the year for the state of California,” said coach Neil MacDannald, who guided Manteca to its first section baseball title in school history. “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 people have to execute their role with little room for error for an extended period of time.
“This is something never done before in the city of Manteca and we are blessed to be able to bring it a state title.”
Cal-Hi also noted that it’s been more than 20 years since a team from the Sac-Joaquin Section has been named Division III’s best. The last time it happened was in 1992, when Mesa Verde (Citrus Heights) captured the honor, one which Manteca would’ve had no chance at if not for its comeback in the section finale.
Trailing by six runs in the bottom of the fifth, the Buffaloes erupted for five runs to get back in the game, then tied it an inning later on an RBI single from Dom Pisano. Jorgensen’s hit an inning later sealed the title.
“This year’s team wanted to leave a legacy that would be looked up to throughout the ages,” said MacDannald. “I believe they’ve done that.”