Roar of the Lions
-Record: 5 wins, 1 loss
-Runs scored: 30
-Runs allowed: 16
-Quick hit: Greater Loudoun defeated teams from three baseball powerhouse states - Florida, Texas and California - en route to the championship.
Greater Loudoun players and coaches were fully aware that not many people outside their circle gave them a chance of competing favorably in the 13-15-year-old Babe Ruth World Series.
And for good reason. As a host team, Greater Loudoun received an automatic bid into the World Series while the remaining tournament field consisted of eight regional champions from across the nation and Virginia's state champion.
"The only way to combat that is to win and very few host teams do," Greater Loudoun manager Tim Owen said prior to the tournament. "We think we are good enough to win it. That's our goal and that's the goal we started with from day one."
Greater Loudoun proved its manager's words prophetic. A six-run fourth inning provided the winning margin as the Greater Loudoun Lions capped a historic run through the 2013 World Series with an 8-3 victory against Westchester (Calif.) in the championship game, Aug. 24 at Fireman's Field in Purcellville.
"This is a once in a lifetime experience," said Kaleb Bowman, who pitched three scoreless in relief to close out the championship. "No one expected us to do anything as a host team. We were a strong team and we knew we were going to go far."
The Lions not only became the first Loudoun team to win a Babe Ruth World Series title, but also are the first host team to win a World Series championship in the ages 13-15 division.
"There is no way to put it into words. It's too exciting," catcher Zack Costello said. "It's pretty awesome how we are first host team to win and the first team from Loudoun, too."
Greater Loudoun pitcher Austin Rader was selected as the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Rader struck out 21 batters in winning both of his starts, including a 4-3 decision against Brazoswood (Texas) in the semfinal round.
"It's really been a good ride with the whole team," said the soft spoken Rader. "I love these guys to death." Rader added that it was "amazing" to see fans pack the Fireman's Field stands in support of the host team.
Christian McDowell earned the pitching win in the championship game. McDowell struck out six and allowed three runs - just one earned - in four-plus innings.
McDowell received plenty of run support as the Lions' lineup from top to bottom produced. Eight different players - Trey McDyre, Kyle Bowles, Clayton Baine, Adam Lockhart, Ryan Hanvey, Jack Howard, Costello and Bowman - scored a run in the victory.
"It was nice today to actually gain a little bit of breathing room," said Owen, referencing his team winning three of its first four games by two runs or less. "Today we were able to get some hits and once we got a lead everybody was able to take a deep breath and relax."
Coming up Biggs
Loudoun's Hank Biggs, who was hospitalized with a concussion and other symptoms following a powerful home plate collision in a pool play game Aug. 20, attended the semifinal and championship games.
"Hank is actually doing very well. He's here, he's happy," Owen said.
Owen continued, "The day it happened we were all down. Luckily by the next day he was healthy and all the kids went to see him. I think if Hank would have stayed down, we would have stayed down. But he recovered and once everybody knew he was okay we got back to business."
Costello echoed his manager's sentiment. "Once we found out he was okay, we all picked our spirts up and wanted to win it for him."
Owen said Biggs, a student at Woodgrove High School, will be kept out of sports activities for the next two months at minimum.
Don Rose Lions
The host team was officially dubbed the "Don Rose Lions" to honor the recently departed man whose work on behalf of youth sports brought the Babe Ruth World Series to Loudoun first in 1998, and again every third year since.
The Lions also wore a "DR" patch on their uniform sleeve in honor of the former Babe Ruth Virginia commissioner.
"He started it all and we finally brought one home for him," Owen said.
Three members of the Lockhart family were a part of the Lions' title run. Mike Lockhart - who managed the Greater Loudoun host team in the 2007 World Series - served as a coach on this year's team. Adam Lockhart played first base and Justin Lockhart was the team's bat boy.
"It was very special to coach my son in this World Series and have my younger son as the bat boy," Mike Lockhart said. "It is a really good feeling to see them have this experience."
Lockhart, still drying after being doused with water, turned his focus to the team. "The kids came out and worked hard all summer, worked all last fall. It's a great accomplishment for these kids and this community."
The Greater Loudoun Lions is the second World Series championship team that Kaleb Bowman played for this summer. He also won a Dynamic 16U Wood Bat World Series title as a member of the EvoShield Canes in July.
Bowman, a rising junior at Woodgrove High School, is verbally committed to play Division I baseball at South Carolina. He helped Woodgrove advance to the Virginia AA state semifinals as a sophomore.
Stone Bridge ace JB Bukauskas, a North Carolina-Chapel Hill commit, also plays for the EvoShield Canes.
-Jason S. Rufner contributed to this story.
Greater Loudoun Lions
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