Montville's Bowens enjoying his stint with the Schooners
Groton — Phil Orbe didn't need to compile a scouting report on TT Bowens to figure out if the former Montville High School standout possessed the talent to play for the Mystic Schooners.
During his days as Montville baseball coach, Orbe watched Bowens develop into an all-state player and Division I prospect.
Bowens recently completed a tremendous freshman season for Central Connecticut State University. He earned most valuable player honors while leading the Blue Devils to the Northeast Conference Championship and the program's first NCAA trip since 2010.
So there was no doubt in Orbe's mind that Bowens was worthy of a roster spot.
"On a personal level, I want him to do well," said Orbe, Mystic's manager. "I've known him since he was knee high. Obviously, he deserves to be here. ... It's good to see a familiar face."
Bowens, a first baseman, is just getting a taste of playing in the New England Collegiate Baseball League this summer. He's scheduled to undergo elbow surgery on June 26 in Hartford.
He knew his summer season would be cut short but wanted to get as many at-bats as possible before heading to the sidelines. He appeared in his eighth game on Sunday night for the Schooners, serving as the designated hitter. He went 0-for-3 but walked and scored the winning run on John Trousdale's single in the ninth inning in a 4-3 victory over Keene.
"It feels great coming back playing for coach Orbe again and meeting all the new guys...," Bowens said. "Seeing this pitching every day is a game-changer. Using wood bats, it's just going to make me better for when I come back. I also wanted to stay in baseball shape."
Bowens has struggled at the plate, batting just .091 with one home run and one RBI in 22 at-bats prior to Sunday's game.
It's about what Bowens expected playing in a wooden bat league for the first time.
"You won't see a below average pitcher in this league, so it really makes you better and prepares you for the next level," Bowens said.
Odds are that the athletic and physically-gifted Bowens, who checks in at 6-foot-4, 235 pounds, would make the necessary adjustments if he stuck around all summer.
His baseball resume backs up that fact.
Any time he's been thrown into the deep end during his career, he's proven that he can swim.
Bowens made varsity as a freshman at Montville and he gradually became one of the most feared hitters in the state. He batted over .400 during his final two years and received The Day's All-Area baseball player of the year award in 2015.
"We played him when he wasn't quite ready, but we knew he was going to be a good player," Orbe said.
Bowens also made a successful leap from playing high school ball to Division I. After compiling a .145 batting average (8-for-55) in his first 18 games, he found his groove. He finished the season on a tear, batting .353 in April, May and June. He owned a .279 overall average, ranked second on the team with six home runs and had 41 RBI while appearing in 46 games, making 42 starts.
"The biggest adjustment I made is seeing a good pitch in the zone and not missing it...," Bowens said. "About halfway through the season, it clicked for me."
He also excelled on the postseason stage. Counting NEC and NCAA tournament play, Bowens went 10-for-19 with two doubles, one triple, two home runs and five RBI.
"It really couldn't have gone much better," Bowens said. "It was just a great experience winning our conference and being able to go down to the (NCAA) regional in Texas. Playing in front of that crowd was just amazing. It felt like we were almost major league ball players playing on ESPN.
"It was a great start to my career."
His summer baseball season ends next week. Recovery time from Tommy John surgery for a position player is about five months. He'll be ready for his sophomore season at Central.
"It's going to be rough in the beginning," Bowens said of the layoff. "For two weeks, I really can't do anything. ... Afer that, I hope it will fly by."
Bowens hopes to return to the Schooners next summer.
Orbe believes that Bowens has a bright future.
"I might have a bias opinion, but he's going to get a chance to play at the next level from college," Orbe said.
News and notes
• Trousdale belted his first home run on Sunday and went 3-for-4 with two RBI. Brian Rey's second home run of the season tied the game in the eighth. Reliever Logan Lessard earned the win. ... Ryan Solomon (Northeastern) is the latest addition to the roster. He started at third base Sunday and had an RBI. ... Ryan Ramiz (Seton Hall) is back for his second season with the Schooners. Outfielder Cam Johnson, (Davidson) will arrive on Monday. ... Recent major league draft selections Billy Lescher (Penn) and Gavin Wallace (Fairfield), taken by Detroit and Pittsburgh, respectively, signed pro contracts. "We're very happy for them," Orbe said. ... Brett Bond, who was drafted by Houston, opted to return to school. He's leaving the team to go back to Missouri to take a summer class.
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