ESPN prepares to broadcast tourney games from WR

awoolen@macon.comAugust 10, 2011 

WARNER ROBINS -- The trucks that will bring images of Warner Robins into living rooms across the country pulled in on a hot and humid Tuesday during the consolation games at Little League Southeast Park.

Using the equipment on those trucks, ESPN will broadcast the Little League Baseball Southeastern Region Tournament’s semifinal and championship games. The 1 and 7 p.m. semifinal games Wednesday will air on ESPN2, while the 8 p.m. championship Friday will be on ESPN.

ESPN producer Matt Bartley said it takes about three dozen people using rented equipment from various vendors to run the event. The crew will man eight different cameras, from a mobile one to the ones used around the field for a multitude of angles.

The trucks carry satellite equipment, lights and a mobile production station that holds various monitors.

Clay Matvick and Chris Singleton return as announcers for the second year in a row.

“I’m very comfortable with the Southeast,” said Matvick, who has traveled the area announcing play-by-play for SEC college football and basketball games on ESPNU.

Matvick was just getting settled in the press box before meeting some of the coaches and players for the live broadcast games.

“We’ll be chatting with the players, asking who’s the comedian of the group” as well as traditions and nicknames, said Matvick.

With the coaches, the announcers will ask more technical questions about their pitching rotations and their coaching philosophies.

Singleton, a former major leaguer who is on ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight,” will do the analysis. He will compare for television viewers what the differences are between major league and Little League baseball.

Matvick said this is the only time of year he gets to work alongside Singleton, and he enjoys the time with him.

“It’s always a treat,” Matvick said.

Matvick isn’t new to Little League. He played in Morris, Minn., when he was younger. He understands how big this event is for the players and the parents.

“They may never play in a bigger game,” said Matvick.

Bartley said that is the reason the Little League series is shown on their network.

“It’s not about selling stuff and who’s going to be first in the draft,” Bartley said. “It’s about watching (the players) enjoy it and their parents enjoy it.”

He went on to say baseball is a tradition in this country, and ESPN is showcasing the talent in the young players.

“We see the rawest form of player,” he said of the Little League players.

Bartley realizes having ESPN at the game can be nerve-wracking for these 12- and 13-year-olds.

“It’s an added level of pressure,” he said.

Matvick tries to put players at ease when he interviews them. While in the press box Tuesday during a downpour, the players on the Georgia team tried to control their nervousness.

“I just wanted to get to know you guys,” Matvick said to the group trying to ease the tension.

Each player in the lineup was introduced along with a few facts about him to be broadcast during Wednesday’s game.

Bartley has produced many different ESPN events and said he was in Oregon in 2009 and 2010 when teams from Warner Robins American Little League won the Little League Softball World Series.

The town of Warner Robins is different from most Bartley said he visits. From the stadium itself, which he admitted was impressive, to the community support, Bartley said he enjoys coming to cover this tournament.

“The hunger for Little League is not in all places,” Bartley said. “This park doesn’t exist in other places.”

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