American Legion Baseball
Exclusive Interview: Larry Bowles, Manager of Chesapeake, Virginia
The final part in a three segment interview with 2010 Mid-Atlantic National Regional Champion manager Larry Bowles.
Interview Part 3
How was the overall experience of playing the ALB World Series? How was the stadium, the fans, the overall level of play?
Outside of our play and results, the World Series was incredible. The stadium was absolutely gorgeous and the level of competition we faced was extremely high. We faced a kid in game 1 throwing around 90 with 2 different sharp breaking balls and in game 2 we faced the only other team in the U.S. to go undefeated in ther regional... with their ace on the mound. Obviously, the competition was a little tougher, but I think any team from the Mid-Atlantic Regional would have been able to compete and win versus those teams... we just had two very rough days on the mound and in the field. However, the experience of being there is one we will all remember.
You had the unenviable task of taking on eventual national champion Midwest City, Oklahoma in your opening round game. Obviously it didn't go as planned with the mercy rule defeat. Can you put that team's talent in to perspective? They were actually without their star player, Jake Realmuto, who got drafted in the third round of the MLB draft by the Marlins and signed with them before the Series for $600,000!
Yeah, that Oklahoma team was obviously talented. We finally had our "can't do anything right" game that we had been avoiding, and it happened to be against the eventual champion with their ace on the mound. Their pitcher, Kevin Hill, was extrememly impressive for them and to be just a rising high school senior? Wow. Not being able to match with Cody Cox, who didn't travel with us to Spokane as he had surgery on his injured foot the day we left on the plane, was unfortunate. It would have been nice to see Hill and Cox go head-to-head.
With that said, take into account that we made some completely uncharacteristic errors in the first inning and the fact that Oklahoma had no extra base hits and you had a perfect storm of errors and seeing-eye singles. Everything they hit seemed to find a hole and if it didn't we made an error. Please don't think I am taking anything away from that Oklahoma squad. They were extremely impressive at the plate. That team executed every hit-an-run and seemed to hit hard ground balls or line drive everytime they made contact. They would have won that game that day no matter how we played on defense, but it would have been nice to have made them play 9 innings and respresent our region and state a little better.
What did you say to your team after the disheartening loss? After such successful runs the previous few weeks, how hard was that loss to take for your team who must have been feeling a bit invincible at that point?
It wasn't the loss, it was the way we lost. The kids knew that not only were they on a World Series stage, but that people were now watching them play online live and to play that way with everyone watching was tough for them. I kept pointing out to them that earlier in the day North Carolina led their game the entire way only to lose it in the bottom of the eighth and that we only get one loss just like they did and were in same position. The big thing to do was completely forget the entire game and find a way to focus on Oregon. The guys were inspried to put on a better show versus Oregon and, for the most part, they did.
The second game of the tournament was another tough loss, when you dropped a one run decision to Roseburg, Oregon who has certainly established themselves as a national power. One big inning did the team in. What did you say to the team afterwards? From an outsiders view, it must be an incredibly tough task to console your players when you yourself are rightfully upset.
The Oregon game was the tough one. We had the 6-1 lead and let it slip away was very rough for all of us. Directly after the game, there wasn't much that could be said to console them. Sure you could tell them that they made it to the World Series and that's great, but these guys knew they wanted more than to just participate. After we all got back to the hotel and showered, we met in my room as a team and talked it all out. That did a lot for us, then we decided to go watch a movie and get our minds off of baseball for a night, had a great time, and the guys kind of bounced back from there. The really tough part for some of the guys was the instant realization that this was the last game some of them would play together after playing for 10-12 years of rec, AAU, and school baseball... that was hard for some of the guys and where the tears came from during the medal ceremony.
What can we expect from Chesapeake, Virginia next year and in the near future? Should we pencil you in for a trip to the 2011 Mid-Atlantic Tournament in Boyertown?
Well now that the guys got a taste of it, they were all talking about doing it again next year. We'd be losing Cox, Dickason, Carter, and Michaud (he just moved to Missouri)... which is big, but we had quite a few very talented guys right there in our area that played with other baseball programs this summer that are now talking about playing Legion with us next summer. We'd have Ali, Adair, Bedi, Applin all coming back on the mound, and Clemmons back at the top of the order. We'll need to replace our starting SS and 3B, but I think we may just try and make another run in 2011.
And finally, any great stories you'd like to share from this season?
The best story of all is how this team was just thrown together in May/June, from 3 different high schools and 2 private schools. In June, some guys had never met before, the guys paid for their own uniforms & hats, we had no signs/coverages as a team, and we had guys playing out of position all year, but were able to make a run against teams that been established for 30+ years that each guys will remember for the rest of their lives.
The other great story starts with the fact that we lost the first game in our state tournament. With the way that tournament was set up, we had to win 6 games in 4 days and the way in which the guys were able to battle through injuries and little sleep to win it was awesome.
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