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Burrows clutches up to help MHS beat Sonora
Sonora High’s Joey Schultz breaks up the double-play attempt at second base while Manteca shortstop Gabe Rellamas avoids contact in the top of the sixth inning of Tuesday’s first Valley Oak League contest for both clubs. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO
The Manteca Buffaloes got dominant starting pitching from Matt Burrows and capitalized offensively on a Sonora miscue, opening the Valley Oak League baseball schedule with a 4-2 win over the Wildcats Tuesday at Manteca.

Burrows went the distance for the win, striking out 10 and getting a ground ball to second to end the game with Sonora’s winning run at the plate. Burrows worked out of jams in the first, sixth and seventh, holding the Sonora bats quiet when needed most.

“Every game you can just count on him for seven innings,” Manteca center fielder Michael Timmins said. “The guy can throw 140 pitches and it doesn’t faze him. He is so reliable.

“Every season he is just too clutch.”

A Sonora walk and a hit batter got things off to a quirky start for Manteca in the first, but Burrows settled down and got a strikeout and ground ball back to the pitcher to end the threat. Sonora would break the scoreless tie in the second when Karson Canaday drove in Bradley Bragley for the game’s first run.

It would take until the third for the Buffaloes to strike, using a Kevin Peck leadoff single to set the tone. A Sonora error preceaded Zach Gase’s RBI-base hit, knotting the game at one.

Burrows would only surrender one run from that point on, while Sonora would have one more costly error, losing a fly ball in the fourth to help score Burrows and Gabe Rellamas and giving the Buffaloes the lead for good.

Sonora would scratch one across in the sixth on three base hits, but could not solve Burrows by the final inning. He would retire two of the final three victims by strikeout, and close to door on the opening day win with a ground ball to second.

“He was throwing so well and the hitters that were coming up he had handled them very well,” Manteca head coach Gene Ballardo said of allowing Burrows to go the distance. “I was confident that he was going to close the door.

“And that is exactly what he did.”

The Buffaloes clearly started the VOL season in the manner in which they wanted, now it will be up to the club to continue to push ahead. Gase was 2-for-3 with a run scored, while drving in a run in the third. Matt Mueller drove in a pair (2-for-4) in the fourth with a double and followed it up in the sixth with another RBI basehit, driving in three of the Buffaloes’ four runs.

“That is a sign of a team coming around right there,” said Ballardo. “The bottom of the lineup, two outs and we were able to get some hits. That insurance run was big for us; to get a couple of hits and scratch a run is huge.”

Manteca (1-0 VOL, 7-4 overall) will try and continue its winning ways, at 4 p.m. today with the weather’s cooperation, as the Buffaloes will make the trip to Sonora for the two clubs’ final regular-season matchup.