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
April 8, 2004
The Invasion of the Gamecocks
This weekend we face off against No. 6
South Carolina. After a week hiatus from the Top 25, we sneaked back in at No.
25. We won Tuesday and Wednesday's games and have a record of 20-5. To win a
series against South Carolina this week would be a tremendous boost of
confidence. Of course, it won't come easy. USC has a modest 52 HRs thus far and
one of the best pitching staffs in the conference. Oh yeah, and apparently Vandy
has not beaten the Gamecocks since 1997, a span of 21 games.
Friday, April 2
Like every other Friday, tonight will most likely set the tone for the weekend.
A win on Friday is a great confidence builder, especially playing at home.
After going to my classes, I decided to attend an afternoon movie. This was
somewhat of a routine the past two summers, so I went to a noon showing of "The
Ladykillers." Being a huge fan of Coen Brother movies, I was pleased with the
comedy, and considered the endeavor a success. After the movie, I spent some
free time with my girlfriend Ashley, and my dad, cousin and uncle, who were
visiting from Ohio. Then, after a trip to the Smoothie King for my game-day
Strawberry Hulk (no banana), I went to the locker room to prepare.
What a wonderful game - an absolutely wonderful game.
Although I didn't have the greatest command, my defense played a spectacular
game (two OF assists). If I made a mistake, I could count on some help. Since
USC was very aggressive, there were lots of balls put in play early, and I
believe it helped keep my defense in the game. This was especially important
because I made many mistakes (even with 0-2 counts), and USC hitters teed up
quite a few pitches. Unfortunately, I was hanging lots of sliders, and with the
backspin already in the spin, the ball jumped off the hitter's bat.
However, I was able to make some key pitches in key situations, and in the fifth
and seventh innings, the offense put up four runs total, giving us a 5-2 lead.
In the last few innings, I felt better and stronger than in the beginning (a
tribute to our conditioning), and was able to record my first complete game of
the year; Vandy wins 6-2.
Although Warner Jones' 32-game hitting streak was snapped, other teammates
stepped up, including Aaron Garza and Tony Mansolino, who both had huge two-out
For the most part, we played a complete game tonight: good pitching, good
hitting, good defense. And with the losing streak to the Gamecocks over, we're
ready to come back out tomorrow and repeat ourselves.
Saturday, April 3
Once again, South Carolina proved that pitching mistakes are be punished.
Despite throwing four solid innings, our starter Jensen Lewis could not quite
keep the ball down in the fifth. USC scored four runs and carried a lead (6-0)
into the sixth inning. Its starter Aaron Rawl pitched a great game, only
yielding a seventh-inning HR to Antoan Richarson. Even though the HR cut the
lead to 6-3, the USC bullpen (Chad Blackwell) shut us down for the remainder of
the game. Final score 6-3.
Just like Friday night, the first team forced to use their bullpen usually gets
Although Jensen has thrown great all year, not being able to pitch six or seven
innings is a disappointment. In the SEC, every game is a dogfight, so the margin
for error is minimal. However, I'm sure Jensen will rebound just fine, and throw
great next Saturday versus Alabama.
Sunday, April 4
Whenever your team has a big inning, the pitcher has one job: follow it with a
scoreless inning. Ryan Mullins could not make it through the fifth, forcing us
to go into our pen again. Down 5-1 going into the bottom of the fifth, we scored
three runs, headed by a two-RBI double by Cesar Nicolas. With USC coming to bat
in the sixth, we had closed to 5-4.
Reliever Matt Buschmann committed a pitching sin. He walked the leadoff batter
Ryan Mahoney. Whenever your offense comes off a big inning, it is necessary for
the pitcher to get the offense right back up to the plate. After scoring those
three runs, Vandy regained the momentum of the game, and we were confident about
our chances. But disaster struck in the sixth, and USC scored three runs, mostly
from our mistakes.
The Gamecocks regained the lead 8-4, and the game ended 10-4. We had a few more
opportunities to score some runs but failed to get the big hit. The failure of
the sixth inning knocked much of the wind from our sails, and despite full-out
effort, the blow was too much.
Losing the series at home is obviously frustrating, but there's nothing we can
do about it.
We're just going to learn from our mistakes, and pick up a win against
Evansville on Tuesday night. We'll continue keeping things simple, like they're
supposed to be. There's no reason to panic - we just have to make sure we don't
commit the same mistakes twice.
We know what our team is capable of, and we will continue playing Vanderbilt
Get Out the Brooms (3/30/04)
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)