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BIG AS A BUFFALO

Barber’s MVP season led Manteca to a playoff berth

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BIG AS A BUFFALO

Manteca's Matt Barber is the 2010 Manteca Bulletin All-Area Boys Baseball Athlete of the Year.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin/


POSTED July 6, 2010 1:56 a.m.
Standing 5-foot-6, it would be hard to see Matt Barber as the big man on campus. But if you ask anyone on the Manteca Buffaloes’ 20-man roster and they will tell you there was no bigger Buffalo than Barber.

All he did on his way to earning the Valley Oak League’s Most Valuable Player award was go undefeated on the mound in conference play, down size opponents with a sub-1.50 ERA and swing the stick to the tune of a .420 average during Manteca’s 12-4  regular season run.

Barber was the obvious choice for The Bulletin’s All-Area Baseball Player of the Year, but even in the opening stages of the season he had no idea the ride would be as smooth as it was.

“I honestly didn’t think that I would have the type of success that I did have,” Barber said. “I knew coming in that I was just going to try my hardest to get the win in each game that I started.

“I told my coach, every game when he asked me how I felt, I told him I’d get the win.”

He did that each time he toed the rubber for Manteca, dodging a minor setback on his record when the Buffaloes blew a three-run cushion in a 5-4 loss to Sierra. Barber finished a perfect 8-0, with a 1.40 ERA. His brilliance spilled over into the postseason, where he initiated himself into an elite company by leading off the Manteca half of the first with a leadoff home run.

Offesnively, Barber just wanted to make things easy. Getting on in front of the league’s Best Offensive Player of the Year Matt Burrows and power-hitting sophomore Daniel Miramontes was Barber’s primary objective.

“I just wanted to get on base so those guys could knock me in,” Barber said. “Burrows, Daniel and C.J. (Rivas) were all good hitters, so I knew that if I could get on base, we could score runs.”

Barber came around to score a team-high 26 times, yet was still second on the club with 19 RBIs. His dual-threat production shined brightest on Manteca’s re-emergence on the playoff bill. Barber started Manteca’s do-or-die Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoff game one contest against River City.

Barber was as masterful as could be on the mound, ending the Raiders’ season by holding them to just one hit in a complete-game 5-0 shutout to open the playoffs. His titanic blast to lead off the first was all the offensive support he would need.

The Buffaloes’ postseason run would come to an end with a pair of losses against section runner-up El Dorado, but getting Manteca back onto the postseason radar was victory enough for Barber.

“All of us on this team were pretty good friends,” Barber said of his teammates. “All of us hung out together after school and some of us still hang out. That’s why I think Manteca High will be really good next year.

“I really think they can take league; I sure hope they do.”

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