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BE grad Bowles part of national championship team

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Baseball

By Mike Farner

 SHEPHERDSVILLE – As every baseball player dreams, but only a few ever realize, the college career of former Bullitt East standout Matt Bowles ended on Saturday with a win.

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More than just closing out a career on a team with a win, Bowles had a big hand in Southern Indiana’s 3-2 victory over Colorado Mesa University in the final game of the NCAA Division II Baseball National Tournament played in Cary, North Carolina.

With the score tied at 2-2 in the top of the 12th inning, Southern Indiana, which also won the national title in 2010, loaded the bases with one out, bringing Bowles to the plate. The senior forced the count to 3-1 before getting the walk on a pitch that was high and outside.

“I got up to the plate and I was going to find a way to get on base,” Bowles said in a press release from the school.

Bowles is the son of Jeff and Nancy Bowles of Mount Washington. Jeff Bowles is the long-time baseball coach at Bullitt East.

After playing four years at Bullitt East, Bowles signed out of high school with John A. Logan University, a junior college in Illinois. After a stand-out career at that school, he signed with Southern Indiana, located in Evansville, where he was a key cog each of the past two seasons.

During last week’s national tournament run, which included five games, Bowles started each of the contests. Four of the games he was a starter at either third base or at shortstop and in one game was the starting pitcher. Unfortunately, the only loss the Screaming Eagles suffered in Cary was the game that Bowles started on the mound, a 5-1 loss to Minnesota State in the third game of the week for Southern Indiana.

Southern Indiana entered the national tournament with the number six seed overall and defeated the top-seeded team in the opening game. During the week, the Screaming Eagles beat the top four seeds in the field.

Because he both played the field and pitched, Bowles didn’t play in every game this spring. Still, on the mound, Bowles posted a 9-4 record with a 3.18 ERA. The right-handed Bowles started in 15 games this season and those were his only appearances. Bowles recorded four complete games while pitching 90.2 innings with 52 strikeouts and only 15 walks. Opposing batters had only a .267 batting average with Bowles on the mound.

In the field, Bowles appeared in 28 games for the Screaming Eagles with 21 starts. In 85 plate appearances, Bowles had a .235 batting average with four doubles and two triples.

For the season, Bowles walked six times, but it will be the last walk that he will never forget.

Off the field, Bowles earned a very important honor that was bestowed on him during the week in Cary when he was named Capital One/CoSIDA third-team Academic All-American pitcher by the College Sports Information Directors of America.

The honor was the first for Bowles who became the fourth USI baseball player to earn the award in the last 11 years.

Bowles, who will graduate with a degree in Sports Management, has a 3.81 grade point average in his two seasons at Southern Indiana.

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Bowles’ running mate at Bullitt East, both on the mound and in the batters’ box, was of course Brandon Alphin. Even before his senior season in Mount Washington, Alphin had committed to the University of Louisville.

Unfortunately, Alphin’s career as a Cardinal has not been exactly what he had hoped. The main culprit has been arm trouble from the start that has hampered his pitching efforts. In fact, Alphin missed an entire season with a medical redshirt and so now is only a junior.

While Alphin has not had a major impact on the nationally ranked Cardinals, he did make the trip with the team to Omaha, Nebraska last June for the NCAA College Baseball World Series. He did pitch a handful of innings for the Cardinals last season and did again this spring. However, he did not pitch this past weekend when the Cardinals won the regional tournament, putting them into this week’s Super Regional against Kennesaw State University.

Alphin has made 12 appearances on the mound for Louisville this spring and had a 1-1 overall record. Both decisions came within the same week in the middle of the season. In the 12 appearances, Alphin has pitched 13 total innings. The junior’s pitching mark is a 2.77 ERA.

Overall, Alphin have given up 13 hits in the 13 innings, giving up four earned runs. The junior has walked four and recorded four strikeouts. Alphin has faced 49 batters and those batters tallied a .265 batting average against Alphin.

Alphin did make one fielding play this season, getting the out.

Despite being one of the best hitters in the state during his high school career, Alphin has not been to the plate during his Louisville career.

Another University of Louisville player with a tie to Bullitt County is junior second baseman Zach Lucas. Lucas played his high school baseball at Butler High School in Louisville. The tie to Bullitt County is that his father, Doug Lucas, was the head football coach at Bullitt Central for two seasons, 2001 and 2002.

Lucas has a .267 batting average this season and has appeared in 61 of the Cardinals’ 63 games. Lucas is second on the team this spring with 44 runs driven in and he is third on the team in total bases with 91, trailing only Jeff Gardner and Cole Sturgeon.