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They were childhood rivals before becoming friends at Harvard-Westlake

They were childhood rivals before becoming friends at Harvard-Westlake
Drew Bowser, left, and Pete Crow-Armstrong are "two of the best athletes I've ever had," says their Harvard-Westlake coach. (Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

They first crossed paths as 7-year-olds. Pete Crow-Armstrong was the ace pitcher for Sherman Oaks Little League. Drew Bowser was the top hitter for Encino Little League.

“I didn’t know who he was,” Bowser recalled. “I went up there, he threw a fastball, and I hit it.”

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It was the first home run given up by Crow-Armstrong.

“It made it a little tough playing against the kid,” Crow-Armstrong said.

Their rivalry continued over the next four years. Then, at 12, they played on the same travel team and became friends. Then they became teammates at Studio City Harvard-Westlake as freshmen, and now they’re pushing each other to reach baseball’s highest stratosphere.

Bowser, a junior shortstop, committed to Stanford. Crow-Armstrong, a junior outfielder, committed to Vanderbilt.

“I think they’re two of the best athletes I’ve ever had,” Harvard-Westlake coach Jared Halpert said. Although, he noted, “they’re almost polar opposites in who they are.”

Crow-Armstrong goes “100 mph,” Halpert said, and the other is the “calm one.”

“They give each other a whole bunch of flak,” he said. “They banter back and forth during practice. There’s competition between them.”

There’s respect, too. To honor Bowser on his birthday, Crow-Armstrong posted a photo of Bowser’s home run as a 7-year-old.

“I gave him a shout out,” he said.

Crow-Armstrong has pretty much given up focusing on pitching. He’s considered one of the best hitters from the class of 2020. He leads the Wolverines with a .542 batting average after seven games. He helped the USA 15U team win a gold medal in the summer of 2017. A 6-foot-1, 175-pound leadoff hitter, Crow-Armstrong has power, speed and a great arm.

Bowser, a 6-3, 205-pound shortstop, has the profile of a future major leaguer. The ball pops off his bat and can vanish over any fence when he makes contact. He’s batting .318.

The tale of their trajectory and their friendship could make an entertaining movie. And they know who could write, produce and star in it.

Bowser’s mother, Yvette Lee Bowser, is a successful TV producer. She wrote a baseball-themed episode for the ABC comedy “Black-ish,” and the lead clip was Bowser hitting a home run as a 12-year-old. Crow-Armstrong’s mother, Ashley Crow, is an actress. Her credits include the role of mom in the TV series “Heroes” and the 1994 movie “Little Big League.” The women are friends and big fans of baseball.

Harvard-Westlake enters the start of Mission League play this week 6-1 and ranked No. 2 in the Southland by The Times. Crow-Armstrong and Bowser are having lots of fun being teammates.

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Asked how long it took to forgive Bowser for hitting the home run, Crow-Armstrong said, “Probably freshman year.”

Said Bowser: “What I learned is it’s real special to have that experience.”

They went from youth rivals to friends. Perfect ending for a film. Time for the moms to get to work.

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