High School Sports

Thriller! San Joaquin Memorial claims back-to-back section titles with walk-off win

San Joaquin Memorial wins on a walk-off to secure back-to-back Central Section titles

Matt Alvarez's walk-off gives San Joaquin Memorial a 3-2 victory over Sanger in a Central Section Division II championship game at Beiden Field on Friday, May 17, 2019.
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Matt Alvarez's walk-off gives San Joaquin Memorial a 3-2 victory over Sanger in a Central Section Division II championship game at Beiden Field on Friday, May 17, 2019.

Senior Matt Alvarez said he didn’t want to let his team down. After all, the San Joaquin Memorial High baseball motto all season was “never give up.”

Alvarez hit a walk-off double to score Mac Dalena in the ninth inning as SJM defeated Sanger 3-2 to win the Central Section Division II baseball championship at Beiden Field on Friday night.

What was Alvarez thinking in his shining moment? “Just got to pull through for the team that I love.”

Sanger led 2-1 before Eddie Saldivar’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh sent the game into extra innings.

Sanger’s Fresno State-bound pitcher, Jake Harrell, did all he could as he exited the game in the eighth after throwing the pitch limit of 110. But Memorial’s Jayden Jones was equally good, going eight innings and striking out eight. Tanner Sagouspe got the win in relief.

“We were facing one of the best pitchers in the Valley,” Memorial coach J.D. Salles said. “That was a grind ... I cannot say we wanted it more because they wanted it, too, and it was a battle and I’m happy for these guys.”

The victory gave the Panthers their second straight section title and ninth overall, according to section historian Bob Barnett.

“Unbelievable,” Alvarez said. “I wouldn’t want to do it with any other team, though. It’s my favorite team and I love them all.”

The teams split their season series 2-2. Sanger’s two wins were each decided by two runs, Memorial’s each by one run.

Anthony Galaviz: 559-441-6042, agalaviz_TheBee

Anthony Galaviz writes about sports for The Fresno Bee. He covers the Oakland Raiders, high schools, boxing, MMA and junior colleges. He’s been with The Bee since 1997 and attended Fresno City College before graduating from Fresno State with a major in journalism and a minor in criminology.


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