by Nick Delahanty, Felician College Sports Information Student Assistant
RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- What started as a transition into the starting rotation before his junior year turned into a season with a great of success for Jack Fowler (Shrewsbury, N.J./Red Bank Regional), which led him to unique opportunities to continue playing throughout the summer. He capped 2014 by being the first Felician College baseball player to ever appear in the Cape Cod League.
Fowler, a left-handed pitcher for the Golden Falcons, spent his freshman and sophomore seasons coming out of the bullpen, serving as the "first guy out" for Coach Chris Langan. He quickly was able to make a name for himself, as he set a school record for appearances in a single season during both his freshman and sophomore campaigns.
With some key pitchers graduating after the 2013 season, the team had some holes in the starting rotation that needed to be filled. There was a very good chance that Fowler would have the opportunity to be inserted into the rotation, but regardless of where he ended up, Fowler wanted to make sure he benefited the team in any way possible.
"My goal was to help the team win ballgames, however that may be," said Fowler, who was named to the Second- team All-CACC and third-team all-NJCBA after his sophomore season. "Whether I was a starter or a reliever, I wanted to make sure I just stick to my game plan of throwing strikes and relying on my defense to make the plays behind me."
The summer after the 2013 season really had a big impact on Fowler's development. After the Felician College season was over, he went on to play for former Felician baseball player Anthony Barone with the Wellsville Nitros of the New York Collegiate Baseball League, and this experience helped him take the next step in building his confidence as a starting pitcher. Barone instilled in him an "Adapt or Die" mentality to use when he is on the mound, which was something that has stayed with Fowler ever since.
"When you're pitching, you have to roll with the umpire's calls and the past situations in a game. You can't rewind, so it's important to just move on and shake it off. You'll fold and not play as well if you're unable to make the adjustment."
After his summer experience with Wellsville, Fowler was inserted into Felician's starting rotation for the 2014 season.He went on to posted a 10-2 record, earning him the NJCBA Pitcher of the Year award. With his 10 victories, he not only set a school record for wins in a season, but also set the school mark for career victories (17).
However, his successful transition into the starting rotation didn't end during the regular season. As Felician went into the CACC tournament, Coach Langan gave Fowler the start in Game 1 against Post. He did not disappoint, going 7 2/3 innings in a 3-2 Felician victory. The next day, Felician would go on to defeat Dominican in a high scoring affair, which put the Golden Falcons into the CACC finals against Wilmington.
Wanting to help his team in any way possible, Fowler made it known to his coaches that he would be ready to pitch if needed in the championship game.
"Jack's arm bounces back pretty well, so after his first start we talked to him about him possibly being ready for the championship game," said Coach Langan, who is entering his 12th season. "He told us that he was going to run a lot the next day and that he would give us what he had if we made it to the title game, and that's exactly what he did."
After falling just short of the championship in the past two seasons, Fowler and his teammates were determined not to be disappointed again. Fowler did exactly what he promised his coaches the day before, as he came out of the bullpen on only one day's rest to pick up his second victory of the tournament while securing Felician baseball's first CACC Championship.
"We were like a family, and everyone was willing to play their role when the team needed it," said Fowler. "Our past experience in the tournament really helped us as well, as it gave us the motivation to work harder to reach that ultimate goal of winning a championship."
The storybook season for Fowler wasn't over after the CACC Championship game. Just five days later, the Golden Falcons went on to play in the NCAA East Regional, suffering a tough loss to Southern New Hampshire. As the team had their backs against the wall the next day, Langan turned to Fowler once again in hopes that he could find a way to extend the season another day.
"Going into that day, I kept telling myself that I can't let my team down and let them lose. My mentality was that if we were going to lose, it had to go through me."
As promised, Fowler would not let his team down, pitching a complete game shutout against the defending East Regional champions of Franklin Pierce. The No. 6 seed Golden Falcons were eliminated the next day and finished fourth in the tournament.
With his success during the season, Fowler earned a spot playing for the Glens Falls Golden Eagles of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League. He and Felician teammate Brennan Price (Middlesex, N.J./Middlesex) had the opportunity to go up against some of the top-tier talent in the area.
After what he thought was his last outing of the season, Fowler received a call the next day from Coach Langan, as there was an opportunity for him to play against some of the best college prospects in the country.
"I thought I was being prank called, as the Cape Cod League has the best players from all over the nation competing against one another. I'm not your typical build for a pitcher, so for me to get a shot like that was truly amazing."
The team that Fowler played on, the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox, went on to win the Cape Cod League Championship this summer. Although he only pitched in a few innings throughout this experience, his presence in the CCBL was a huge milestone for the Golden Falcons.
At 5-foot-9 and 175 pounds, Fowler is the first person to admit that he isn't a prototypical mound presence. However, his determination and his ability to throw any pitch for strikes at any time has made him a known commodity in the CACC.
"Jack had a great season, -- 10 wins in a season truly speaks for itself," added Coach Langan. "Jack takes advantage of all the opportunities given to him, as he was very deserving and did very well, especially representing Felician College."
Being that he got so much work during the spring and summer seasons, the coaching staff limited Fowler to only six innings this fall.
Now that the 2014 fall season is complete, Fowler and the Golden Falcons can look ahead to the 2015 campaign, where Fowler will be called upon to step up as the team's ace. With losing some key pieces from the 2014 championship team to graduation and to the Major League Baseball draft, the team needs Fowler to step up again.
"I'm mentally ready to take the next step and become a leader, along with our other seniors," said Fowler. "As last year's champions, we know that we will have a big target on our backs, but I'm ready for it."