Braw­ley na­tive Ja­cob Sanchez helps Mex­ico to Caribbean Se­ries ti­tle.

Imperial Valley Press - - Front Page - BY TOM RONCO

For­mer Braw­ley Union High School Wild­cat and Im­pe­rial Val­ley Col­lege base­ball player Ja­cob Sanchez made two re­lief pitch­ing ap­pear­ances last week­end help­ing Mex­ico’s Ve­na­dos de Mazatlán cap­ture the coun­try’s third Caribbean Se­ries ti­tle in four years.

The 6-foot-1, 205-pound right-han­der also be­came part of his­tory as Mex­ico fin­ished with a per­fect 6-0 record, the only team in the his­tory of the Caribbean Se­ries to fin­ish un­de­feated.

“It’s such a big event for the coun­tries that are there and our fan base from Mex­ico was some­thing else and it was a great feel­ing to win it,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez helped Los Aguilas de Mex­i­cali, man­aged by Edgar Gon­za­lez, to fin­ish just a half game back of 2015 Mex­i­can Pa­cific Win­ter League cham­pion Los Cañeros de Los Mochis and 2 and a half games ahead of Los Ve­na­dos de Mazatlán, ap­pear­ing in 29 games all in re­lief and pick­ing up six saves.

While, Los Aguilas lost the MPWL ti­tle game to Los Ve­na­dos, Sanchez’s play­off pitch­ing was the rea­son he was at the Caribbean Se­ries.

“I was play­ing with the Ve­na­dos be­cause I was one of the guys they picked up to help their team in the Caribbean Se­ries,” said the 26-year-old. “We lost to them in the cham­pi­onship se­ries and I had had a de­cent year but the play­offs were bet­ter so I peaked at the right time and that was nice so they picked me up.”

Sanchez had two crit­i­cal re­lief op­por­tu­ni­ties in Mex­ico’s fi­nal two games, the first com­ing in Mex­ico’s 7-2 semi­fi­nal game vic­tory against Cuba.

“I came in the eighth in­ning of the semi­fi­nal against Cuba with the bases loaded and two outs and struck the guy out,” Sanchez said.

As im­pres­sive as that out­ing was for Sanchez, the cham­pi­onship game against Venezuela brought a more im­pres­sive stint.

“Against Venezuela, I came in in the sev­enth in­ning with two outs and run­ners on first and se­cond and I got an­other strike out to get out of that with us down two runs,” Sanchez said. “Then we tied it in the bot­tom of the sev­enth and I had a lit­tle trou­ble in the eight but our cen­ter­fielder bailed me out.”

Mex­ico recorded a 5-4 vic­tory against Venezuela’s Ti­gres de Aragua on a walk-off home run in the bot­tom of the ninth and while Sanchez did not get a win in ei­ther game was grate­ful for the pres­sure-packed pitch­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

“We won on that home run so I wasn’t in­volved in the de­ci­sion but the op­por­tu­nity and the ex­pe­ri­ence of play­ing in the Caribbean Se­ries is in­valu­able to my ca­reer,” Sanchez said who fin­ished his col­le­giate ca­reer at Iowa We­sy­lan. “To be able to han­dle your adrenalin with the pres­sure and the loud crowds … it’s not some­thing you can sim­u­late, you have to be in it.”

Ex­pe­ri­ence was what Sanchez’s play­ing with Los Aguilas this win­ter was all about, in­clud­ing get­ting ex­pe­ri­ence as a re­lief pitcher.

“I am a starter with the (Oak­land) A’s but it’s great ex­pe­ri­ence for me to re­lieve,” Sanchez said. “As a starter you never want to put any­one in sit­u­a­tions like I was in but it’s part of the game and you deal with it.”

Sanchez is pre­par­ing to leave March 5 for Mi­nor League spring train­ing with the Oak­land A’s or­ga­ni­za­tion where in 2015 Sanchez posted a 10-8 record for the AA Mid­land (Texas) Rockhounds be­fore fin­ish­ing with a 1-1 record at AAA Nashville.

“That was the big­gest thing about play­ing for Mex­i­cali was that I could stay at home in Braw­ley with my fam­ily and when we had a home se­ries and they could see me,” Sanchez said. “I’m gone seven months a year and I want to spend time at home but it helped me a lot to pitch in this win­ter and af­ter the Caribbean Se­ries I’m go­ing to spring train­ing 100 per­cent ready.”

PHOTO COUR- TESY JA­COB SANCHEZ

Braw­ley na­tive Ja­cob Sanchez helped Mex­ico to its third Caribbean Se­ries ti­tle in four years last week.

Braw­ley na­tive Ja­cob Sanchez (right) poses with a team­mate and the Caribbean Se­ries tro­phy af­ter de­feat­ing Venezuela for the ti­tle last week. PHOTO COUR­TESY JA­COB SANCHEZ

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