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Wait for your break, then take advantage of it

August 09, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

Bret Rowland didn't know it, but he was underdressed for the occasion.

He had his spikes and sanitary socks. His cap was firmly secured on his head and his shirt - complete with the big No. 18 emblazoned on a green star across the front - was tucked neatly in his pants.

But still, the National Little League 9-10 All-Star member was missing something.

That's the way it is when you are an unsung hero. You never remember to bring your cape.

In the grand scheme of it all, Rowland probably doesn't consider himself a hero - unsung or any other sung. He was just a reserve on the National team which played for the Maryland state title last week in Baltimore.

He is a quiet sort of player. He sat on the bench and waited his turn to play his two or three innings against West Salisbury in last Wednesday's championship final. There was no moping or feeling hurt because he was one of two kids on National's 11-player roster who didn't start.

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Rowland quietly went out to right field to take his turn. He was there to play for National and gladly accepted his role.

His big moment came in the fourth inning. National was trailing 4-0 and was having trouble locking onto West Salisbury's pitcher. The slow deliveries had most National hitters spinning into the ground.

But National had a glimmer of hope. Keith Johnson had a one-out single and took second when Logan Appel walked. Appel was eliminated on Scott Bennett's grounder, but there were runners on first and third.

Rowland went to the plate, just as quietly as he was while sitting on the bench and when his name was called to go into the field. Bennett stole second during the at-bat to set the table.

West Salisbury continued to feed Rowland that steady diet of breaking pitches. He stood there, listening to all the different coaching instructions and parental directions for the situation.

He took it to heart.

Rowland stepped in and pulled the trigger against West Salisbury's Scott McGriffen. It's hard to say if he swung with all his might - you can never tell with heroes - but he connected and lined a ball down the line off the third baseman's glove.

It was good for a run - the only one National managed in the 7-1 loss. It renewed some spark in National's comeback effort and got the local cheers roaring.

All was good with the world, even if it only lasted for a couple more minutes.

Rowland was pulled for a faster pinch runner. He trotted off the field to a chorus of "Atta boys" and pats on the back for figuring out just how to hit McGriffen. He did what he was told ... stay back and wait for the break because the pitches were coming in slow motion.

It was the end of Rowland's playing day. He took his seat - almost unassumingly and just as quietly - to pull for National to pull out the win.

As performances go, Bret Rowland's hit probably won't be remembered long in the annals of National Little League baseball. It was just a single and it was just one run.

But it will be something the will be etched in his memory for years to come, in his own emotionless way.

It will be a memory he can wear in place of his missing cape.




Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Morning Herald. His column appears every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2310, or by e-mail at bobp@herald-mail.com

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