It took Bryant Bowen just one inning — two pitches, to be more precise — to hit his first home run as a South Carolina Gamecock. On a 1-0 offering from Holy Cross starter Garret Keough on Friday, the DH connected and sent a 370-foot blast to left-center.
“It was a special moment. The hair on my arms was coming up. I had some goosebumps,” the senior said. “Just a great way to set the tone.”
“He’s been hitting ever since he got here,” South Carolina head coach Mark Kingston said. “He has a track record. He hit .340 last year with power and RBIs and didn’t strike out a whole lot. And that’s what we’ve been looking to add to our roster.
“He showed tonight, again, he can get on base. He drove a ball for the three-run homer. Just a good, mature presence there.”
Bowen’s first-inning home run — after Noah Campbell and Brennan Milone both walked — gave the Gamecocks its first runs in a six-run first inning in the team’s 10-0 opening day victory. The righty went 1 for 3 with a walk and two runs scored. He also struck out swinging in the fourth inning.
By happenstance, Bowen went 1 for 2 (a single and a groundout) against Keough last season when his Southern Miss team took on the Crusaders.
When he saw a fastball coming Friday, he connected for one that sailed a bit farther than the single.
“Being able to see these elite arms we have the last four weeks in our spring camp, [facing] 88 [today], I really was just locked in,” Bowen said. “I think after five years of college baseball, I finally got a chance to start opening day.
“It was just the icing on the cake. It was an awesome feeling.”
George Straight’s “Here For A Good Time” — with the lyric “I ain’t here for a long time. I’m here for a good time” — played each time the Southern Miss transfer stepped to the plate, and both were true on Friday.
Bowen may not be in Columbia for a long time, but he made his regular-season introduction to Gamecock fans a memorable one that he enjoyed thoroughly with his teammates.
“I think it’s just the maturity of these guys,” he said. “I think they understand how talented they are at this level of college baseball. They don’t stress out. It’s a game we learned at 4 years old and it’s supposed to be fun.
“And that’s how I felt in the dugout and I think it led to the result in tonight’s game.”
Last season at Southern Miss, Bowen hit .341 with 11 doubles, 11 home runs and 51 RBI to make the All-Conference USA team and lead the Golden Eagles to the Baton Rouge Regional of the NCAA Tournament.
An all-state player from Shreveport, La., Bowen redshirted his freshman year and platooned as a redshirt freshman and sophomore on Southern Miss teams that slugged their way to the postseason each year.