For Independence Post 21 manager Tom Bush, this American Legion baseball season was “kind of a roller-coaster ride.”
That ride ended late Thursday night – and with it, Bush’s managerial career.
Following Post 21’s 10-7 season-ending loss to Warrensburg Post 131 at Hidden Valley Park in the Missouri Zone 2 Tournament, Bush announced he was stepping down as manager.
“I may coach again,” he said. “I probably am going to coach again. But I just don’t want to be the head guy anymore.”
Bush wasn’t the only one for whom Thursday marked a farewell. Catcher Bryson Powell was among those who played their last game for Post 21 Thursday, going 3-for-4 with a walk, three runs scored and two RBIs. The 2017 Truman graduate and soon-to-be Missouri State University freshman considered his two seasons with Post 21 an excellent experience. His 2016 season “was a blast,” he said.
“This year has been (great),” Powell said. “Great coaching staff…. Just great teammates and everything. The emotion levels with everybody really matched together.”
Powell, however, acknowledged that Post 21 (17-16) had a tough go of it at times. The club had a tendency to play well, but would let a few innings slip away “and give up a couple extra outs,” he said. Powell said that was the case Thursday.
“Overall, it was a well-played game,” he said. “Don’t want to take that away from anybody, but there were some extra outs given up.”
Post 21 also struggled with pitching at times, according to Bush. Most of the games Post 21 dropped resulted from excessive walks and hit batters, he said.
Bush said that was true of the loss to Warrensburg. Unofficially, Post 21 pitchers Tanner Blau, Cameron Lusso and Kevin Losch yielded a combined nine walks, with Losch plunking one batter.
“When you start walking people, the pitch count goes up,” Bush said. “Then, you’ve got to get into another pitcher. So (before you know it), you’re out of pitching. Basically, we were out of pitching tonight anyway.”
However, Bush praised his players for fighting until the end. That end came in the top of the ninth inning, when Post 21 loaded the bases with two outs before Gehrig Bristow was called out on strikes for the final out.
Bush considered the end to the game – and the season – as part of the game. For some of his players, he considered it part of their maturing process.
“Some of these players, they need to understand that they’re going from (being) a kid to a man,” Bush said. “They have to understand that, just like the game of baseball, sometimes things don’t go your way. But you can’t pout about it. You’ve got to move on.”