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Next-level talent
Burrows receives partial scholarship from Sonoma State
Manteca Highs Matt Burrows pitches the baseball team to a 4-2 victory over Sonora on March 22. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO

A trip to Australia last December proved fruitful for Manteca High senior Matt Burrows.

The three-sport athlete was a part of the Goodwill Series and played for the White Sox 18-under team to showcase his baseball talents.

That coupled with a decorated three-year varsity campaign on Manteca’s varsity squad helped land him a partial scholarship with NCAA Division-II Sonoma State.

In front of family, coaches and teammates Tuesday, Burrows made it official by signing his letter of intent at the school’s library.

“The head coach (John Goelz) from Sonoma was actually one of the coaches in Australia,” Burrows said. “He saw the way I played and he said he liked what he saw. We just kept in touch after that. We scheduled a visit, I saw the team play and they came up with the best offer.”

Burrows said Oregon State, Menlo College and Upper Iowa University were among the schools that had been in contact with him.

Sonoma State (36-20), runner-up of the California Collegiate Athletic Association, recently clinched a berth to the NCAA Division-II World Series for the second time in school history after capturing its first West Region championship since 2008.

“It’s an honor for me to get to play with a team with that type of ability, and they’re giving me a chance to play my freshman year,” Burrows said. “That was a big thing for me.”

The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Burrows has been a part of the team’s battery over the past three years, either as a catcher or pitcher. He played some at first base earlier this season, which may end up being his permanent position at the next level.

The Seawolves coaching staff will also give him a hard look at pitcher.

Like any ball player moving onto the college ranks, Burrows has dreams of turning his passion into a career.

“Ever since I started playing baseball it’s always been my dream to play professional baseball,” Burrows said. “Sonoma State develops their players very well and they have players get drafted pretty high.”

In the last five years, Sonoma State has had 11 former players selected in the amateur baseball draft and nine others signed as free agents. In 2010, pitching standout Scott Alexander was drafted in the sixth round by the Kansas City Royals.

Burrows has led Manteca to back-to-back Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV playoff appearances, and next Monday the Buffaloes will compete in their first-ever section championship game.

In 2010, Burrows was named Valley Oak League Offensive Player of the Year, an honor he again earned this last fall as quarterback of the school’s co-championship football team.

His biggest contribution, however, is his leadership.

“He just brings it every day,” said third-year Manteca coach Gene Ballardo. “I can’t say enough about him. I’ve been spoiled, and he’s going to be truly missed. There was never a doubt that he’d go on to play at the next level, and he’s very deserving of it.”