Look back at 1981 Bowie state team

The 1981 Bowie baseball team made school history by making it to the state tournament, something this year’s team almost equaled. (Photo from 1981 Bowie Yearbook)

During the rest of 2022, The Bowie News will be celebrating its 100th anniversary. There will be many activities throughout the year.
Sports Rewind will offer up a few sports headlines from the past 100 years of Bowie News coverage including its predecessor The Bowie Booster.
This month includes stories from the 1981 Bowie Jackrabbit baseball team that made school history by making it to the state tournament.

June 7, 1981, The Bowie News
Headline: Bowie drops Seminole, 5-1

A rejuvenated Ken Fluitt got his right arm reunited with the strike zone Friday after control problems plagued him in his last two outings, and the ‘Rabbit fireballer hurled Bowie to a one-hit 5-1 romp over the Seminole Indians assuring the ‘Rabbits of their first baseball trip to Austin in the school’s history.
In control from the onset, Fluitt consistently kept the Indians off balance with his combination of fastball, curve and slider-striking out seven batters, walking four, and allowing just one anemic infield hit in his eighth win of the year against one loss.
Bowie bats continued to back up ‘Rabbit pitchers with clutch hitting with men on base. Although they managed just six hits at Rose Field, Bowie steadily tore down the Seminole defense with the same brand of hit and run ball they employed during the regular season.
“We knew if we could keep the pressure on, they’d fold,” said Bowie manager Jeff Jackson after the win.
The ‘Rabbits drove in their first run in the second inning as catcher Larry Beasley knocked in Robbe Lancaster with a sacrifice fly after Lancaster reached on a single up the middle, promptly stole second and then advanced to third on a passed ball by the Indian catcher before the fly ball. Senior third baseman Scott Weber added tow more cushion runs in the third as he connected for a line drive single with Mark Rankin and Matt Hill on first and third. The speedy Rankin the inning in typical Bowie style beating out an infield hit and then stealing second and trotting to third on the overthrow. Hill also reached base on an infield hit beating out a single in the hole.
With Fluitt having no problem handcuffing Indian batters, Bowie’s sometimes loose defense provided error free ball for the junior hurler this time. Nevertheless, designated hitter Greg Shaw scored a fourth Bowie run in the fourth inning as he raced home untouched on a passed ball after reaching with a walk. The freshman ‘Rabbit added the final run for Bowie in the following inning, taking first on another walk, and then scoring from third on a fielder’s choice by Kerry Clement.
Seminole scored their lone run of the game in the seventh inning as Fluitt walked an Indian with two outs and promptly moved him home via a mishandled pickoff attempt and passed ball at home plate.
Although the win propelled Bowie in the state semi-finals (to be held Thursday evening in Austin) Jackson was not particularly surprised with the ‘Rabbits impressive performance.
“I’m not surprised at anything they (Bowie) do. They’re a bunch of scrappers and they play with a lot of character and a lot of heart,” said Jackson.
The team will leave Bowie Wednesday morning for Austin, reported Jackson, and their semi-final game will be at either 6:00 or 7:30 PM Thursday night at Burger Center off Interstate 35 in Austin.
Leadoff man Mark Ranking and Matt Hill each collected two in Friday’s game with Lancaster and Weber rapping one each.

June 18, 1981, The Bowie News
Headline: “Rabbit baseball team falls one short of State championship
A baseball season ended on a nippy Tuesday evening in Austin’s Disch-Falk field for the Bowie Jackrabbits as they watched a state AAA championship slip slowly from their grasp. In the end the ‘Rabbits just couldn’t overcome the five run lead they spotted the Summerset Bulldogs in the first three innings, and despite outhitting them ten hits to three, Bowie dropped the title game 5-2 to the determined south Texas squad.
Previously undefeated ‘Rabbit hurler Kent Fluitt (8-0 going into the game) simply could not find the control from the onset as he watched the Bulldogs jump on top 3-0 in the first inning courtesy of four walks and two hits. Clearly, Fluitt’s pitching arsenal over powered Summerset when he found the plate (he tossed four strikeouts in the first two innings) but those moments of command were not as frequent as in past outings.
The Bulldogs cashed in on two more runs (one each in the second and third inning), taking advantage of two walks in each inning, before sophomore reliever Kevin Roth entered the pressure packed schoolboy final.
Roth quickly settled down both the vocal crowd and busy Summerset baserunners as he forced two Bulldog batters to ground out, ending the third inning. The sophomore reliever put an end to any Bulldog notions that they would be scoring any more that evening, as Roth demonstrated poise and control not usually seen by sixteen year olds in their first state championship performance.
Unfortunately, Bowie bats were not able to string together enough hits with men on base to overcome the Bulldogs. The ‘Rabbits stranded eight runners through the course of the evening as they failed to find enough clutch hits to overcome the early deficit.
Short stop Matt Hill led an offensive charge with a sizzling 3 for 3 night at the plate, including a fifth inning double to knock in Bowie’s first run. Mark Rankin beat out an infield smash deep in the hole to start off the inning and he quickly advanced to third on a wild pickoff throw. Hill’s shot down the third base line scored Rankin but the junior ‘Rabbit was left on second as Bowie could not follow his cue.
Freshman designated hitter Greg Shaw fought off a succession of tough pitches with a full count in the sixth inning to drive in their second run.
Older brother Mike Shaw cracked a line drive single to open the inning and soon advanced to second on a passed ball. Catcher Larry Beasley moved Shaw to third with a sacrifice grounder to the infield setting up Greg Shaw’s RBI. The youngest ‘Rabbit watched the count go to 3-2 before he fouled off a series of pitches preceding his base hit up the middle.
Unfortunately, the inability to move enough runners plagued Bowie again and Shaw ended the inning on first base.
Kerry Clement ignited the Bowie crowd in the top of the seventh as he smashed a double in their final bat. Despite the possibility of yet another rags-to riches comeback, however, Clement’s rap was the beginning and end of a ‘Rabbit rally. Summerset brought in centerfielder-pitcher Ricky Cruz in relief after the fireballer hurled eight tough innings in their previous semi-final win Monday. Cruz was clearly the Bulldog’s ace in the hole, showing a good fastball and curve which pulled the curtains on Bowie.
Considering the bizarre circumstances surrounding the flood filled championships in Austin, the six day adventure is one of those memories that will be safely tucked away for everyone involved. Rain delay after rain delay was witnessed by ‘Rabbits who found themselves gazing out Holiday Inn rooms into the Colorado River and the occasional river dragging for bodies. There was literally no dry spot in the entire town and Bowie showed surprising polish in the two game series, considering the total lack of practice while in Austin.
Bowie fans were treated to a 1981 season of spectacular baseball by the finest squad in school history.