GLENDALE — From Burbank High graduate to Glendale Community College standout to 2010 World Series champion.
Freddy Sanchez' nine-year Major League Baseball career, though it's featured a National League batting title and three All-Star appearances, no doubt reached the pinnacle on Monday evening, as his San Francisco Giants defeated the Texas Rangers, 3-1, in a decisive Game Five at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas to clinch the World Series.
The victory was the first for the Giants franchise since 1954 and the first ever since moving from New York to San Francisco.
"This is the ultimate high in baseball," said Giants catcher Buster Posey after the game.
Giants closer Brian Wilson notched the game-ending strikeout to begin the euphoric celebration on the infield. Sanchez made a beeline for shortstop Edgar Renteria, who was named the World Series Most Valuable Player largely on the strength of his game-winning three-run home run in the seventh inning on Monday, as the middle infielders and third baseman Jose Uribe celebrated together before joining the mob around the mound.
Sanchez was the first area player to compete in a World Series since St. Francis graduate and Glendale native Gregg Zaun did so for the Florida Marlins in 1997. Consequently, both series saw Renteria come through with series-winning hits.
Sanchez went one for four on Monday, notching a single in the top of the sixth. He ended the World Series with a .273 average, having gone six for 22 in the series. But it was Sanchez who ignited the Giants in Game One, going four for five with three runs batted in and two runs.
He also finished the series with his normal flawless defense, which was a highlight over the weekend as the former Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star made a couple of dazzling plays in the field.
For the most part, however, it was the pitching of Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Wednesday's starter, Tim Lincecum, that was the catalyst for a Giants triumph that saw the staff hold the Rangers to a .190 average over the five-game series. Lincecum struck out 10 and allowed just one run over eight inning to get the win on Monday.
"He had that confidence," Posey said. "He was good all the way through."
For Sanchez, it was the high note for his career thus far and a Giants tenure that began with a trade in 2009 that was met with harsh criticism after the former Vaquero struggled at the plate at times and struggled with injuries.
But after a two-hit performance in the National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves, Sanchez came alive in the National League Championship Series, hitting .360 with nine hits in 25 at-bats. For the postseason as a whole, Sanchez started all 14 games, batting second and playing second base. He hit a combined 17 for 63 (.270) with 21 total bases, four doubles, four RBIs, one walk and five runs.
In addition, Sanchez was one of the atypical players in the Giants lineup, none of them really superstars, many of them acquired in deals under the radar before coming together as champions.