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Jimenez a leader in Lightning's best season

Sage Hill senior pitcher came up big last week and helped Sage set a record for wins in a season.

June 05, 2010|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza

When the week began, Friday was supposed to be Alex Jimenez's best day as a student-athlete. He was going to receive his diploma from Sage Hill School.

On the same day, Jimenez planned to earn the baseball team's first CIF Southern Section Division VI championship.

The times and sites for both events eventually conflicted. The graduation ceremony on campus was set for 4 p.m. The game was starting a half an hour later in Riverside.

Jimenez walked at Sage Hill. The senior never jogged on the field one last time as a Lightning in the program's biggest game.

Jimenez's Sage Hill athletic career ended Tuesday at home, where the Lightning lost to top-seeded Desert Christian of Lancaster, 4-3, in the semifinals.

"Most schools that are 10 years old don't make it to the semifinals," Jimenez said. "It wasn't like we played a bad game.

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"The way I was pitching [Tuesday] was pretty lights out until that [sixth] inning. That was kind of an anomaly for me, just kind of having it explode on me."

Without Jimenez, Sage Hill (20-6) doesn't turn in its finest season. The Lightning set a record for victories in a season.

The right-hander gave his team a chance to win every time out on the mound. He finished with an 8-3 record this season, giving him an 18-5 overall record the past two seasons.

Jimenez lifted the Lightning to the quarterfinals for the first time after they suffered back-to-back second-round exits on the road. He threw five strong innings, allowing one run and three hits in a 3-1 victory against Windward in Los Angeles.

In the following playoff game, Jimenez entered as the closer. Vasquez, from Acton, rallied for three runs in the seventh. With two outs and the Lightning ahead by one at home, Jimenez shut the door.

Jimenez earned the save as Sage Hill beat fourth-seeded Vasquez, 6-5, to reach the semifinals. The postseason run continued at home.

Taking the ball against Desert Christian, a team with only one setback, was Jimenez. It took the Knights until the fifth inning to record their first hit.

Jimenez doesn't throw hard, but he hit the corners and pounded the inside of the plate for 5 2/3 innings. He had to in order to be successful against a potent offense.

At 6-feet, 170 pounds, Jimenez doesn't appear intimidating. Neither is one of his favorite pitchers, Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants.

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