Coach of the Year: Rowland prides on resiliency
by Carlton D. White
June 09, 2013 12:13 AM | 2510 views | 1 1 comments | 38 38 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jeff Rowland
<br>Staff photo by Kelly J. Huff
Jeff Rowland
Staff photo by Kelly J. Huff
Pope prospered offensively, en route to claiming the Class AAAAA state championship this season.

The Greyhounds outscored their opponents 318-218, with a 110-84 margin in the postseason.

While the run differential was considerable, even more impressive for Pope was how it got those runs. The Greyhounds went 10-3 in the postseason, winning three extra-inning games and rallying from late-inning deficits or ties in four of their 10 victories.

Pope scored three or more runs in an inning more than 10 times during the postseason, including its six-run eighth-inning outburst in Game 1 of the championship series against Greenbrier, and the 13-run showing in the fourth inning of the nightcap.

Those were the types of situations coach Jeff Rowland was used to seeing from his players throughout the regular season, so he wasn’t too surprised to see it continue in the postseason.

“We dug ourselves into holes in a lot of our games, but our guys never panicked,” said Rowland, the 2013 Marietta Daily Journal/Cobb County Baseball Coach of the Year. “From the leadoff batter to the last guy in the lineup, they always believed in themselves and never felt like they were out of any ballgame.

“To have that carry over into the playoffs the way it did was phenomenal. The guys were just so resilient all year. They found a way to win.”

Examples of Pope’s resiliency were sprinkled throughout the postseason.

The Greyhounds trailed Winder-Barrow 9-6 entering the bottom of the sixth of Game 1 of their second-round series, but they scored three times in the bottom half of the inning to tie before scoring the game-winner in the seventh.

In the decisive game of the series, Pope held a 5-4 margin, only to see Winder-Barrow tie it in seventh, en route to an extra-inning victory in the eighth.

In the semifinals, Starr’s Mill scored twice in the seventh to knot Game 3 at 5-all, but the Greyhounds rebounded with another eighth-inning win.

The capper, however, occurred in the finals against Greenbrier.

In the opener, Pope trailed the Wolf Pack 5-2 late, but scored three runs with two outs in the seventh to tie the score. Greenbrier then took a 7-5 advantage in eighth, but the Greyhounds scored six two-out runs — capped by Nathaniel Lowe’s walk-off grand-slam — to win 11-7.

The outcome in the nightcap was just as improbable as Pope, which trailed 3-2 after three inning, sent 18 batters to the plate and scored 13 runs in the fourth to invoke a 15-5 championship-clinching win.

“It was a total team effort,” Rowland said. “We talked about that a lot and preached that we were never out of game, no matter what the score was, until it was actually over. That was part of what was so special about these guys. They had a chance to shine in some of the biggest moments of the season and they delivered.

“I think that’s what made this group pretty special. Everybody pulled for each other, no matter who was at bat, no matter who was pitching, no matter who was playing defense or running the bases or who was in the dugout. They believed in the team.”

Pope’s title was its second and the first since 2009.

“This was a whole organizational deal,” said Rowland, who singled out his assistants, Daryl Zarbnisky, Chris Turco, Brandon Martin, Al Savransky and Mike Nelson. “It’s because we had good players and good assistant coaches that we were able to accomplish what we did.

“It was a fun year. There were a lot of great memories and a lot of crazy games. The kids kept finding ways to win. We came back from several holes that I wasn’t sure we’d come back from, but the guys found a way to get it done because they believed. I’m just very proud of all of them.”
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Joe Wiseman
June 09, 2013
Congratulations on a well deserved honor Coach! You and the other coaches have built a great program which our family is blessed to be a part of. Already looking forward to next season.
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