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BERLIN -- Playing Major League Baseball is something nearly every kid who has ever thrown a ball up and whacked it across the yard has dreamed of, but so very few ever achieve.
For former Hiland High School star Luke Burch, a 2012 graduate, that dream came one step closer to reality on Tuesday, when the Kent State senior was drafted in the ninth round by the Detroit Tigers.
"It's pretty crazy. Oh man, it's absolutely overwhelming," Burch said. "I didn't expect to get picked today. My agent called and said, 'Detroit's about to pick you. Go watch on video.' A scout called me about a minute later."
Burch, 23, will finish with an undergraduate degree, and has his eye on a Master's in Sports Administration.
"I think they like me as a center fielder because of my speed," he said. "I can hit and steal bases, that kind of thing."
Burch has led the Golden Flashes offensively the past two seasons with 162 hits. Last year he batted .357 to lead the team, and his average dipped a few points to .350 this season, going 78 for 223. He drove home 25 with 15 doubles and four homers, and also stole 13 bases.
He was also nearly perfect in the outfield with just three errors in 111 chances. He also had seven assists. Over the past two seasons, he made only four errors on 222 chances.
He missed half of the 2015 season with an ACL tear, but he has put his injuries behind him and gone full speed ahead.
After a stellar career at Hiland where he helped the Hawks to the state semifinals, he played for one year at Ashland, where he led the Eagles to the GLIAC championship.
He then transferred to Kent State as a preferred walk-on, and started in center field from then on, aside from the time missed due to injury his sophomore year.
Burch credits every coach he ever played for in helping develop his game, especially Tom Gibson at Hiland and Jeff Duncan at KSU.
"I am walking on clouds. It feels like my own son got drafted," Gibson said. "I am so happy for him. He deserves it, all the hard work he put in. I think he's the first kid from Hiland to ever get drafted.
"I couldn't be more excited for a kid," Gibson continued. "He's definitely a five-tool guy who can hit, run and field. I'm pretty impressed with what he's done. It's special for me as a coach, seeing a kid get part of his dream. Any time that happens, it's a good thing."
Burch will go to Lakeland, Florida for his physical and get assigned to either the Connecticut Tigers (low A) or Lakeland (high A).
He says he will continue to work at his ultimate goal of making the majors, even if it is in the Central Division as a rival of the Cleveland Indians.
His proud parents are Mike and Deb Burch of Berlin, and he has an older brother Zak.
Reporter Kevin Lynch can be reached at 330-674-5676 or email@example.com.