Ben Bowden, Lynn English/Vanderbilt University baseball
A 6-foot-4, 225-pound lefthanded reliever, Ben Bowden is off to a fast start as a sophomore at Vanderbilt University, the defending NCAA Division I champions, who are coached by Wolfeboro, N.H., native Tim Corbin. Entering this weekend’s series against Southeastern Conference rival Tennessee, the hard-throwing southpaw was 4-1 in 10 appearances, striking out 25 in 16⅔ innings with a 2.70 earned run average. The state’s Baseball Player of the Year at Lynn English as a senior, he was a two-time Globe All-Scholastic. Bowden is one of three Bay State natives on the Commodores’ roster, joining junior outfielder Rhett Wiseman (Mansfield) and freshman infielder Will Toffey (Barnstable).
Q. Winning a national championship as a freshman, that’s a nice way to start a collegiate career .
A. It’s a great way. When we won it was pretty surreal. You don’t even know what’s going on. People are jumping around and screaming; everyone’s hugging each other. There were fireworks. It was pretty cool. It was definitely the most exciting experience of my life so far.
Q. What were some of your most memorable moments at Lynn English?
A. In junior year of high school against Marblehead, I pitched a perfect game and then I had a walk-off home run against Gloucester, I think it was senior year. The perfect game was probably the best, because it was a little more difficult. It was the season opener. I don’t remember a whole lot of details about it, but I think I had 15 or 16 strikeouts.
Q. How did you end up at Vanderbilt?
A. Coach Corbin saw me, I think it was going into sophomore year, at a Showcase at Bentley and from then on followed me and I committed later.
Q. Corbin seems to keep an eye out for players from up here.
A. He likes his Northeast boys. He has Rhett and me and Will now. Last year, we had Tyler Beede (Auburn) and Adam Ravenelle (Sudbury). [Both are pitching professionally, Beede in the Giants’ organization, Ravenelle with the Tigers].
Q. What was your role on last year’s championship team?
A. At the beginning of the year, I didn’t really have a role, but as my velocity picked up and I started to get a feel for my off-speed pitches, at midseason I became kind of a lefty specialist and would be brought in to face lefthanded hitters. I had three one-pitch appearances where I threw three fastballs. One was against Virginia in the final series of the College World Series. I threw the pitch and got a ground ball to second base and got out of the inning. That was my job for the day.
Q. What are your best memories from the championship?
A. My personal moment would be my one pitch, getting on the field for the championship series. For the team, I had a couple. One was John Norwood’s home run in the top of the eighth inning that put us up 3-2 in the championship game. The other was Adam Ravenelle having the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth and getting us out of it.
Q. How has your role evolved this year?
A. This year my role has been more of a late-inning guy, kind of a closer. We’ve got a few late-inning guys. It’s been fun. Basically, after the sixth, seventh inning I need to be ready to go in, especially in a tight game when lefthanders are coming up. It’s not a bad role.
Q. What is your strength as a pitcher?
A. My fastball. It’s about 91 to 94 miles per hour. That’s the pitch I go to most. And my aggressiveness on the mound.