Brolsma, Bowman to play key roles for Nevada | NevadaAppeal.com

Brolsma, Bowman to play key roles for Nevada

Appeal Staff Report

Owen Brolsma and Matt Bowman have a great deal in common. Both came to the University of Nevada in their first seasons as really unknowns who went on to make unexpected contributions.

And it’s likely that how well the 2006 Nevada baseball team does will depend a great deal on how much Brolsma and Bowman can contribute this year. Brolsma, a 2003 Carson High graduate, is a right-handed relief pitcher, who will likely be counted on in various roles this year.

Brolsma may even end up as the team’s closer, something he got a taste of in 2004 when he had a breakout year as a freshman. Brolsma had a solid year with a 4.00 earned run average before being sidelined with an elbow injury. Brolsma eventually needed Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2005 season, but he is again healty for 2006.

As a walk-on freshman in 2005, not much was expected from Bowman, a 2004 Dayton High graduate. But he went on to become a starter at two unfamiliar positions – third base and left field – and had a solid year, hitting .280.

He became the team’s No. 2 hitter at the end of last year and will likely be the Wolf Pack’s No. 2 hitter again this season.

Brolsma began pitching last summer with the Reno Astros and pitched quite a bit this past fall with Nevada.

“Everything seems to be doing pretty good,” Brolsma said. “I’ve made a pretty big turnaround. I’m pretty much good to go.

“I’m not feeling any pain or anything like that. I don’t even think about it (the pain) any more. I’m just happy with where I’m at right now.”

Brolsma had a fastball in the upper-80s and said his velocity is again at that level. “I’m about where I was right before I got hurt,” he said. “I feel pretty good about where I’m at.”

He’s not concerned about increasing his velocity for now. “I’ve got a ways to go before that,” said Brolsma about having a fastball in the 90s.

What Brolsma is more concerned about is becoming a more complete pitcher. During his freshman year, he was basically a fastball-slider pitcher and admitted there were times when he didn’t have the best of ideas on how to pitch. “I know my freshman year I wasn’t much for locating and stuff,” he said.

Brolsma has developed a changeup and a sinker and believes he’ll have more command of pitches this season. “I should be better,” he said.

What role Brolsma has out of the bullpen will depend on how well he pitches early in the season. “Nothing’s to set in stone, yet,” he said.

He said he’s looing to earn the role as the closer. “That’s where I would like to be,” Brolsma said. “That is where I want to be. It’s pretty exciting for me. I imagine I’ll just get thrown into a lot of different situations this year.”

There are many question marks with this year’s Nevada team, but Brolsma said the Wolf Pack should surprise some people. “I think we’re going to do a lot better than people think we’re going to do. We’re stronger than I thought we would be.”

Bowman agreed with Brolsma’s assessment. “I think we’ll be just fine,” Bowman said. “We’re going to do the small things well. I think we’re going to definitely surprise some people.”

How complete an offense Nevada will have will likely depend on Bowman as there’s a strong chance he’ll be the team’s No. 2 hitter. His goal is to be the consummate No. 2 hitter, who can handle the bat and drive in runs.

“That’s where I kind of see myself as kind of a second guy,” Bowman said. “I don’t have blazing speed like a leadoff guy but I do have some speed and I think I can drive in some runs, too.

“I definitely hope I can improve this year. I’d like to hit for a higher average and even for more power.”

Bowman has also been dealing with a nagging injury, a sprained joint in his elbow. “I’m getting better,” he said.

“I’ve been throwing every other day. I’m not trying to push it, though. It’s just pretty sore when I throw. That’s kind of going away. It’s getting better.”

If Bowman’s arm is strong enough, he’ll likely start at third base. “I feel a lot better there than I did last year,” he said.

If his arm isn’t strong enough, Bowman will likely start in left. He’s even been working in center field. “I don’t even remember,” said Bowman when asked if he’s ever played center field. “I don’t think I ever have.”

Bowman is looking forward to the series with UNLV, which will begin Feb. 16 at Peccole Park. His cousin, 2004 Carson High graduate Willie Bowman, is expected to be the starting third baseman for the Rebels.

“It should be fun,” Matt said. “We’ve always gotten along really well. There will definitely be some bragging rights.”