Brawley native Jacob Sanchez helps Mexico to Caribbean Series title.
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.”
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