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 13, 2004
Trumping the Tide
This weekend will be yet another important series for
Vanderbilt baseball. We travel to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to take on a struggling
University of Alabama. With a 3-6 record in the SEC, Alabama is battling
injuries and lacking offensive production. However, the Crimson Tide play
extremely well at home, and are pitching outstanding. Vanderbilt has not won an
away series since LSU my freshman year (over 2 years). This weekend is a great
opportunity to break the streak.
Friday, April 9
This will be the last time I ever eat Long John Silver’s the day before a game.
Fried food tends to upset the body, and it made me feel rather ill. All day
before the game I was feeling lethargic, and the hot weather was not helping.
We arrived at the field way too early, and I was stuck waiting around for almost
two hours before warming-up and stretching. Although I had to watch BP, shine my
shoes and establish a game plan, it was a long time (especially in the heat).
Unlike previous weeks, Coach Johnson decided to let John Douillard and I call
the pitches during the game. He felt this was necessary to conform to my success
working at a quick pace. Since I have complete trust in Douillard to call
pitches, I was confident we would make the right pitches. Our basic approach
was: my best versus their best. Similar to Georgia, we were gonna attack Alabama
with fastballs, mixing up the location.
Everything worked perfectly for seven innings. After Cesar Nicolas collected
three hits, we were leading 6-0 going into the eighth. The leadoff hitter, Allen
Rice, took an inside FB and slapped it down the third-base line for a double.
This at-bat foreshadowed several other at-bats in the inning: good pitch, good
piece of hitting. No matter where I put the ball, they found a place for it.
Four hits, one BB and one HBP led to four runs. At 6-4, the fans became excited,
and things stared getting tense. Thankfully, Tyler Rhoden bailed me out by
getting a K to end the threat.
In the bottom of the ninth there was more drama. With runners on second and
third with no outs, our closer Ryan Rote managed to stop the bleeding and finish
the game. We won 6-5.
Not exactly the way one wants to finish a game, but we’ll take any win we can
get - especially on the road. Now we can carry our momentum into the rest of the
After the game, I went out to eat with my girlfriend Ashley, my step dad Rob,
teammate Matt Buschmann and his girlfriend Molly. Tonight, I stayed away from
the fried foods and settled on grilled chicken and shrimp. Tomorrow would be an
exhausting day involving a 40-minute run, weight lifting, medicine ball workout
and light throwing. Winning tonight’s game will definitely make it easier.
Saturday, April 10
Today’s game was pitcher-dominated. Both starters - Jensen Lewis and Brandon
Belcher - threw six excellent innings, leaving the score 2-1 going into the
seventh. Then came rain. A 63-minute rain delay. Thankfully Alabama’s field
drains exceptionally well.
Unfortunately, the final three innings didn’t offer too much excitement. We hit
a few balls hard, but reliever Seth Johnson shut our offense down, and we lost
After a trip to the Olive Garden with the same cast from last night’s dinner, I
made an executive decision in the hotel room. We were going to watch The Bad
News Bears. My roommate, Stephen Shao, was a bit angry after allowing a HR in
the eighth inning, so we needed to clear his mind. I hope the movie worked.
Nothing is a better remedy for a bad mood than watching foul-mouthed
10-year-olds play baseball.
Tomorrow will be one of the most important games of the year. Lefty Ryan Mullins
will take the mound and give us a chance to win a road series. Hopefully, we
will manage some clutch hitting and give Mullins some cushioning to do his
thing. Of course, this will not come easy. Alabama probably needs Sunday’s game
more than us. They need to win a series, especially at home.
Sunday, April 11
Since the breakfast at the Fairfield Inn is more continental style, Coach Corbin
took us to IHOP (International House of Pancakes) at 9 a.m. I sat with my
roommate Shao, two fellow pitchers - Nick Pilkington and Blake Owen - and our
Administrative Assistant John Williamson (a.k.a. Mook). When the waitress came
to ask us about the check, we told her to put it all on one, anticipating that
we would break it up at the cashier.
Apparently IHOP didn’t advocate this practice and was not thrilled when we asked
to pay for individual meals from the check. Needless to say, we weren’t too
happy about the experience.
Since it rained all night, we did not go over to the field until noon (2 p.m.
game). Batting practice would be in the cages, so I went on my Sunday run and
did some theraband before the game.
Go figure, another pitcher’s duel. Ryan Mullins gave us seven wonderful innings,
and Alabama starter Taylor Tankersley also pitched good enough to win. Going
into the ninth inning, we were up 3-0, with Ryan Rote coming in for the save.
Once again, Alabama started rallying. A lead-off double sparked the offense, and
before we knew it, Alabama had the bases loaded with two outs down 3-2.
Pinch-hitter Matt Downs came to the plate and blasted a 2-2 FB into right field.
As they say, sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. Our RF Worth Scott
made an outstanding catch running into the wall. We won 3-2.
The trip home was a bit different than normal. Feeling great after a series win
against Alabama, we even got to watch a movie. But instead of enjoying the
flick, I decided to catch up on Gree Civ reading. I read about 100 pages of
Thucydides commenting on the Peloponnesian War. Besides, I wanted to watch
Bachelor Party, which apparently got shot down. Oh well.
Now we have to look to our next competition: Tuesday against Evansville at home.
Looking for win No. 25. Our record now stands at 24-8 (6-6 SEC).
The Invasion of the Gamecocks (4/8/04)
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)