MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Just being picked for Team USA as one of the Top 20 high school baseball players in the country was an honor for Briarcrest senior Matthew Dallas..
"It's the biggest you can get at this age," Saints head baseball coach Craig Hopkins said of his star left-handed pitcher. "Any time you can wear that USA and flag on your chest. It doesn't get any bigger than that."
Actually, it can. Dallas was not only named to the team; he started the gold medal game, leading the United States to a 5-1 win over Chinese Taipei in the U-18 World Baseball Softball Cup.
"To watch it on the internet as he's performing in a gold medal game, it's about as nerve-wracking as it can get," Hopkins said. "It's like watching one of your kids play. He's a special pitcher and player, and he rose to the occasion."
"It was everything," Dallas said. "Just putting the jersey on, to standing on the line and hearing the playing of the National Anthem— I'll never forget the memories I have of that."
The Tennessee baseball commit's performance has him rising on MLB Draft boards.
"This summer picked up a lot with scouts," he said. "That's been the main thing. I still talk to my coaches at Tennessee, still planning to go there. But if the dream happens where I'm able to be in a spot where I'm blessed, then I'm going to take it. But for now the plan is to go straight to Tennessee and try to do something really good over there."
Dallas says the attention from this summer will help him when the spotlight is on him this spring.
"Every start was in front of scouts," Dallas said of his various showcase events this summer. "So I've kind of been able to cancel it out and just worry about the game and that's all that matters at that point and attacking batters."
"I'm so proud of the success he's had," Hopkins said. "Not just because it does a great thing for our school, but because he's such a good human being. He's very deserving."