Gnats' Bowman thrives in starter spot

Mets prospect scatters four hits over six shutout innings

Matt Bowman has allowed 11 hits over 11 1/3 innings this year. (Savannah Sand Gnats)

By Robert Emrich / Special to | April 10, 2013 7:00 PM ET

If Wednesday's start is any indication, looks like Matt Bowman is done giving piggybacks for a while.

Bowman allowed four hits and struck out four over six innings as Class A Savannah defeated Augusta, 7-0, on Wednesday.

The 21-year-old right-hander, who lowered his ERA to 1.59 in the process, walked one and induced eight ground-ball outs, including a pair of double plays. A 13th-round pick by the Mets a year ago, Bowman threw 71 pitches to earn his first South Atlantic League victory of the season.

"I tried to go right after them with the fastball and located it in and out and let them get themselves out," he said. "The slider was pretty good, changeup was all right, and I threw the splitter a little. I just felt like from their swings, that [the curveball] was a pitch I didn't need to use. I felt like fastball, slider, change was going to get it done."

Bowman ran into some trouble in the sixth inning, allowing a walk and a one-out double to Mitchell Delfino to put runners in scoring position. His fastball, which has been clocked at 95 mph in the past, got him out of the jam.

"I'd been using the fastball all night and I had a base to work with, so I'd get ahead with the fastball and bear down and made sure not to give any pitches to square up," he said.

Bowman struck out Travious Relaford and got Rafael Rodriguez to fly out to end the threat.

Bowman made his pro debut in 2012 with the Brooklyn Cyclones, going 2-2 with a 2.45 ERA in 12 New York-Penn League appearances. The Princeton product made just one start but was part of the club's piggyback system, in which he would pitch in tandem with another hurler once a week.

This year he's tossed 11 1/3 innings in his first two outings, more than a third of his 2012 total. Bowman credits the Mets and the work they put in with their starters to stretch their arms out.

"The Mets have a great program in Spring Training where you start throwing two innings and then you go to the bullpen and throw an extra 20 pitches," Bowman said. "Then you work three innings and throw those 20 pitches. By the time the season rolls around, you're ready to get the pitch count up."

Seven games into the season, the Sand Gnats once again lead the league in team ERA (2.18). It's something of a tradition for the club, which topped the league in that category each of the past two years and was second in 2010.

Jake Kuebler allowed five hits over the final three innings to earn his first save.

Kevin Plawecki, the Mets' No. 17 prospect, smacked three doubles and drove in a run while Stefan Sebol slugged a two-run home for Savannah.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @RobertEmrich. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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