Jeremy Sowers is
a junior lefty at Vanderbilt, who chose to pitch for the Commodores despite
being the 20th overall pick out of high school by the
Cincinnati Reds. Regarded as one
of the elite pitchers in the country, Sowers went 7-5 with a 2.50 ERA in 115
innings with 123 strikeouts and 29 walks as a sophomore, going 7-0 with a 2.11
ERA in his last nine starts. A native of St. Clairsville, Ohio, Sowers has a
twin brother – Josh – who is a right-hander at Yale. Jeremy will provide a look
at Vandy’s quest to reach the NCAA tournament and the ever-tough SEC throughout
March 30, 2004
Get Out the Brooms
Friday, March 26
Home SEC opener against Georgia. Today was completely sold-out, standing-room
only. The weather was outstanding, and the game was even better.
After working all week on my tempo, I felt well-prepared. I was ready to get
things back on track. During my pre-game bullpen, I was hitting all my spots and
seemed to have feel for my four pitches. Tonight was gonna be another SEC
dogfight, and we needed to take advantage of the home crowd.
Although my entrance music for my last home start was "Waiting For a Star to
Fall" by Boy Meets Girl (cheesy 80s love song) and I threw seven scoreless
against Cincinnati, I decided to make a change. After some convincing from
assistant coach Bakich, the song was gonna be "Battle Without Honor or Humanity"
from the Kill Bill Vol. 1 soundtrack.
It seemed to work. For the first time in a while, I struck out the side. My
stuff was working, and I felt confident with everything. Coach Johnson also
prepared a wonderful scouting report. Tonight, we were gonna pound Georgia with
inside FBs. It was right on the money.
With the help of Warner Jones (big surprise) getting three hits, the offense
provided four runs of support in the eight innings I pitched. Unfortunately, I
threw too many pitches in the first three innings (about 55). Although I
recorded seven Ks in the span, I worked to several three-ball counts and failed
to force early contact. As a result, I had 114 pitches after eight innings, and
left the game for Matt Buschmann to finish. I would've loved the chance to
finish the game, but with so many pitches, it was best I left. So I handed
Buschmann a 4-0 lead.
Busch appeared to make good pitches, but Georgia began rallying. Nervously
pacing in the dugout, I began thinking "not again" after last week's series.
After three runs, Busch was replaced by Ryan Rote. His confidence, although
shaken up last week, was back - in full force. And that was all she wrote. Three
pitches, all 94 mph, and a K on Josh Smith.
Vandy wins 4-3.
After the game, we got to watch fireworks. And to my surprise, they were great.
I'm sure the win had something to do with that feeling.
Saturday, March 27
With one win under our belt, we came out Saturday for the early series win. This
one was also closeâ€¦at least until the eighth inning. Showing his consistency,
Jensen Lewis gave us another quality start in keeping the game close. He gave us
eight tough innings (getting out of numerous jams) and kept the score tied 4-4
going into the bottom of the eighth. Then, we put the game out of reach. A
four-run inning, led by Worth Scott's leadoff double. Rote finished them off in
the ninth, and Vandy wins 8-4.
This game was another great example of putting an opponent away. Both teams put
everything they had into the first seven innings. In the eighth, we applied the
knockout punch. Scoring four runs late in the game destroyed a lot of Georgia's
confidence. Now, we needed to come out strong tomorrow and complete the sweep.
After losing two tough games, we knew Georgia would be on the threshold of
collapsing. If we jumped on them in the early innings, there was a good chance
they would give up.
Sunday, March 28
This game didn't go quite as planned.
In a horrible first inning, Georgia jumped on us for a 4-0 lead. Although the
runs were scored on errors and a missed DP opportunity, this gave the Bulldogs
the confidence they needed. After three innings, Georgia led 5-0. Ryan Mullins
was pitching very well, but we still were making some costly mistakes
(offensively and defensively). In the bottom of the fourth, we put one on the
scoreboard, and garnered some confidence. It was still very early, and we knew
we had lots of remaining opportunity. If we could just chip away and hold their
offense down, the game could be ours.
The bottom of the fifth was amazing. Georgia's starter - Seth Ruthven - appeared
to be getting tired, and they were forced to go to the bullpen. After using a
total of three pitchers in the frame, we tallied seven runs in taking the lead
8-4. This momentum destroyed Georgia's hopes, and four more runs in the seventh
basically put the game away. However, our bullpen began making us nervous.
Taking a six-run lead (12-6) into the ninth, Jeff Sues allowed four hits and two
runs before getting a deep fly out for the third out.
Although we swept the series, we still felt like it should've been easier.
Several errors and pitching struggles made some people sweat, and we almost
repeated Ole Miss.
But the bottom line is we won.
Our pitchers will continue learning and improving, and our defense will rebound.
Everyone on our team has tough skin, and will only get better.
Sweeps are great, especially in an SEC series. After losing our last nine games
against Georgia, we needed to make a change. Our team came out ready, and with
great effort, finished on top. Now we have to focus on Tuesday's opponent -
One game at a time.
Three Tight Games, Three Tight Losses (3/23/04)
Rough Outing Eased by Series Win (3/16/04)
Sweep of the Bearcats (3/9/04)
(photo courtesy of Vanderbilt Media Relations Office)