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
May 24, 2004
A Fond Farewell
Weekend (May 21-23)
Going into this weekend, we
control our own fate.
We hold onto a spot in the
SEC tournament by two games, so if we win our games versus UK, we’re a lock.
However, UK is a team playing with nothing to lose, so they can be very
dangerous. Although their pitching has struggled most of the year, they hit the
ball as good as anyone in the conference. For the next three games we have to
put everything together: hitting, pitching, and defense.
This will also be (most
likely) the last three games at home all year. For our seniors, it will be their
last home weekend, and we need to give them something to remember.
On a different note, after
the Alabama weekend, in my journal I complained about the effects of Long John
Silver’s on the stomach. A few days ago, I received a letter from one of my
former high school coaches, Scott Geiser. Apparently, he works in public
relations for the parent company of LJS’s. In an e-mail, he made me understand
that it was obviously "all in my head" that the greasy fish fillets of LJS’s
could’ve made my stomach ache on game day. After considering his argument, I
have decided to agree, and I wish to apologize to anyone in the LJS’s
corporation that I may have offended. LJS’s offers great food at competitive
prices, and I would recommend it to anyone. I hope this clears any confusion.
(Note: I’m not being serious, I honestly believe my coach was exaggerating, but
I’ll play the game for the purpose of a laugh.)
Today, I struggled to find
space on the pass list for family and friends coming to watch the game. My
parents will be there, along with my Uncle Bill, cousin Mike, my twin brother
Josh, his girlfriend Kim, my former teammates Justin and Brett (also his former
stepdad Jon), my friends David and Mike McGee. I also became aware that my
former high school coaches - Geiser, Brown and Hash - were going to be in
attendance. Since I was pitching against former teammate, UK 2B Spencer Graeter,
they figured they could kill two birds with one stone.
Tonight’s pitching match-up
is straight from an old high school sectional game. When we were juniors, UK’s
starter, Craig Snipp, and I faced each other in the finals of the state
sectionals (one game away from Final Four). Thanks to a flare down the
right-field line and an OF assist to throw out a runner at the plate, my team
won 1-0. At the time, it was the most important game for my high school, since
we had never been past the sectionals.
Anyway, I stayed in bed
until noon today. The game wasn’t until 7 p.m., so I saw no point in waking up
early. Around noon, I headed out to run a couple errands (bank, gas, lunch).
At roughly 1 p.m., my
girlfriend called me, frustrated about the four-hour epic (Lawrence of Arabia)
they were watching for her Maymester class. I still needed to pick up my mail,
so I agreed to meet Ashley outside her classroom on campus. After I picked her
up, we went to her apartment to relax and a couple hours before I needed to be
over the field. Somehow I found myself watching General Hospital and
realizing how brutally funny soap operas are.
Eventually the time came,
and I headed over to the locker room. I polished my shoes, got dressed, ran
around a bit in the OF, watched UK take batting practice and drank a smoothie.
Forty-five minutes before the game, I began stretching and throwing, ready to
take the mound. Tonight I knew could be the last time I ever pitch at Hawkins
Field, so I knew the importance of the game. In addition, a win would tie
Vandy’s record for wins in a season, and also nearly ensure postseason play. All
this provided extra excitement, and I knew tonight was going to be a fun game.
In the first three innings,
our offense put up seven runs. When this happens, all a pitcher has to do is
throw strikes and get outs. I threw 7.2 innings, and when I left the game, we
were winning 9-1. Coach Corbin purposely took me out in the middle of an inning
so I could get a standing ovation from the crowd (apparently my mom was crying).
After three years of pitching at Vanderbilt, the ovation may be one of the most
Our team has come a long
way in three years, and the fan support has more than doubled. I couldn’t have
imagined a better way to end my career at Hawkins Field.
Last night, Auburn got beat
by Arkansas, so we were guaranteed a spot in the tournament. Today’s game was a
battle for the No. 7 seed.
This morning, I did my
usual post-pitching workout: running, lifting and medicine ball. I also added a
rowing exercise (one of the harder things I have ever done), changing my routine
a bit for the possible Wednesday start. As usual, I was completely exhausted by
Today we were honoring our
three seniors: Worth Scott, Cesar Nicolas and Jon Douillard. Before the game,
they were recognized on the field with their parents and other relatives.
As for the game, we once
again scored early and often. Not quite as productive as last night, but enough
to win. Leading 8-6 in the ninth inning, our reliever Jeff Sues got into some
trouble. With only one out he yielded two singles. Runners were on first and
second, and UK’s clean-up hitter Mike Breyman was coming to the plate. Corbin
decided to bring in our closer Ryan Rote. After a few 95 MPH fastballs and 88
MPH sliders, Rote struck out Breyman and Jake Kungl. The rally was stopped, and
we won 8-6.
Before the game today, the
eight teams in the tournament were determined. We were guaranteed a seventh
seed, regardless of any of today’s outcomes. However, we were playing for
another win, another sweep, to fill our resume for a Regional.
Although we started slow,
finding ourselves quickly in a 4-0 hole, we finished strong. Starter Matt
Buschmann battled for 6.1 innings, keeping us close. Finally, in the seventh and
eighth innings, we totaled seven runs and went on to win 11-5.
Tonight we can relax, but
it all starts up again tomorrow. On Monday, we head for Hoover, Ala., for the
SEC tournament, leaving behind our home field and home crowd.
On Wednesday we play No. 2
seed Georgia at 1 p.m., the start of our postseason.
Although we swept them
earlier, Georgia is a completely different team that is playing with tons of
confidence. It will no doubt be a dogfight, but also lots of fun. We’re all
looking forward to the opportunities the future will bring.
Little Extra in the Bayou (5/17/04)
Take Roadie from Rival (5/12/04)
Lack of Sleep (5/5/04)
in Gainesville (4/28/04)
Wild, but Commodores' Goals Still Within Reach (4/20/04)
Trumping the Tide (4/13/04)
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)