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Bower comes through in a pinch

August 14, 2000

Bower comes through in a pinch



By BOB PARASILITI / Staff Writer


WASHINGTON, Pa. - If T.J. Bowser lived in the Old West, he'd be Billy the Kid.

If this were medieval times, he might be Robin Hood.

But this is the PONY League World Series and this teenager is just a potent a hired gun as his legendary counterparts.

Bowser is a role player on the Hagerstown PONY All-Star team which plays in the winners' bracket final tonight at 8 at Lew Hays PONY Field. Role player is a nice way of saying reserve and Bowser has reserved his right to make a huge impact in his cameo appearances.

"That kid has a role on this team that I don't envy," Hagerstown manager Rick Suder said. "He has a very good stick and we use him in key pinch-hitting roles where we need to make something happen. Nine of the 10 times we used him, he got a hit."

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Bowser poked his head out of the dugout with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning on Sunday in Hagerstown's series opener against tournament host Washington (Pa.).

Hagerstown had just fought back to tie the game at 3-3 the inning before and the game hung in the balance.

Although he stepped to the plate cold after watching the first five innings from the bench, Bowser hit the first pitch from Washington's Dom Winters - a thigh-high fastball - and drilled it to left-center field for a double. He followed by stealing third and scoring the first of the two runs delivered on Tim Kellinger's grounder that shortstop Kenny Evans booted, leading to Hagerstown's 5-3 victory.

So what - big hit, big run and win the game - Bowser is used to it.

"I feel pretty comfortable coming off the bench. I wasn't nervous," Bowser said. "I just watch the game and get pumped and then I want to get into to help out the team. The situation was perfect. I love the first pitch and he thought he could throw it down the middle and get it by me."

Winters didn't and Suder was counting on it, like he has so many times before.

"T.J. is a good hitter, but because our defense is set in the infield, he's not in there all the time," Suder said. "We believe in gloves and defense first. Right now, there is no spot for him, so he's not in there."

Except for the ticklish offensive situations.

"The first time we used him was against Chambersburg in the sectionals on Sunday," Suder said. "We needed to win two games to move on and the game was tight. We put him in and he ripped a shot. Then again in the regional, we put him in key spots with runners on base, he came through again. And finally, it was in the first game of the zone tournament where winning that opener is so important. He got the big hit to get us started."

At least once a game, Hagerstown needs to get a jumpstart to get back into the game. Usually, Suder can count on the pitching and defense to keep the team in the game, now he is beginning to count on Bowser to put them over the top.

"It just shows that he's still in the game and always prepared to play," Suder said. "Even at this age, it's tough to do that, but you have to stay ready to play because you don't know when we are going to need you. He is a perfect example of what it takes to do the job."

Bowser is at peace with his situation with Hagerstown's team.

"I don't always know when I'm going in, but that's OK," Bowser said. "I don't mind as long as it helps us win."

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