This past weekend, the Hopkins baseball team took on Rutgers-Camden and Cortland State in the Baltimore Invitational. Despite a tough 11-2 loss to Rutgers-Camden on Saturday, the Jays triumphed the following day against the No. 1 team in the country, the Cortland State Red Dragons.
After nine innings of regulation, the score was tied at 3-3. After a scoreless top of the 10th, thanks in large part to the efforts of junior pitcher Josh Hejka, the Jays took to the plate. In the team’s first at-bat of extra innings, sophomore shortstop Dillon Bowman slammed a walk-off home run, securing the much-needed victory for the Jays. For his impressive performance in the face of immense pressure, Bowman has been named this week’s Athlete of the Week.
While only a sophomore, Dillon Bowman has been a key contributor to the Blue Jays since entering Hopkins in the fall of 2016. Last year, he totaled 22 starts with 22 hits on the season, resulting in a 0.250 batting average. Meanwhile, his four home runs landed him in the record books as the fourth-best home run freshman hitter since 2010.
Given such a strong freshman season, Bowman’s home run this past weekend should come as no surprise, as the sophomore is clearly calm under pressure.
Following his victory-clinching performance, Bowman sat down with The News-Letter to discuss what the walk-off meant to him, as well as his personal goals for the remainder of the season.
The News-Letter: How have you transitioned from playing first base to shortstop this season? Which position do you prefer?
Dillon Bowman: I’ve transitioned well. I always played shortstop in high school and during summer baseball, and it’s my best position. Last year was the first time I’d ever played first base, so it was different and challenging, but I was happy to do it because it allowed me to play. I definitely prefer playing shortstop though and am happy to be back there this year.
N-L: Coming off a tough loss to Rutgers-Camden on Saturday, what adjustments did the team have to make going into your second game of the weekend versus Cortland State?
DB: In my short career at Hopkins, I’d never been a part of a loss like the one to Rutgers-Camden. That was the first loss I’ve experienced here where we got beat badly and didn’t have a chance to win in the ninth inning. Our team expects to win every game.
We are all extremely competitive and know that we can win a championship this year and every year we are on the Hopkins baseball team. So our attitude going into every game is very similar. I think our hitters did have to make an adjustment to the wind this weekend, though. It was blowing in hard from left field, and on Sunday we did a better job of drawing walks, hitting lower line drives and hitting the ball to right field where the wind wasn’t as big a factor.
N-L: What was going through your mind when you stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the 10th inning?
DB: I have to get on base. I’d been seeing the ball pretty well all day, but I knew that for us to win I needed to do everything in my ability to get on base so that I could give the guys behind me a chance to get me in.
N-L: How did it feel to hit the walk-off home run against the No. 1 team in the country?
DB: It was amazing. I think that’s the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. When I hit the ball, I thought it was too low to go out, so I was running hard to try and get to third base so that it would be easy for the guys behind me to get me in. When I was about to get to second base I saw the umpire signal for a home run, and I lost it. Seeing all the guys jumping up and down and going nuts and knowing that we had just walked off the No. 1 team in the country for the second straight year in a row was quite the experience. I’m glad I could help us get the win.
N-L: What are your personal goals, and what are the team’s goals for the remainder of the season?
DB: I think it’s hard to make personal goals in baseball. So much of the game is out of your control. You can go up to bat and hit the ball hard three times and get out every single time. So for me, my personal goals include having a high hard hit percentage, trying to cut down on strikeouts and doing whatever it is I need to do in any particular game to help us win. I know as a team our goal is to win the Centennial Conference Championship and ultimately the World Series.
Catch Bowman and the Blue Jays back in action on Saturday, March 10 at 2 p.m. when they take on the Manhattanville College Valiants.