On his first walk out of the Southern Mississippi bullpen, Golden Eagle reliever Colt Smith was the equivalent of the janitor, summoned by phone because of a mess on the field left by the starter, the junior right-hander, after an offensive outburst, ended up the winning pitcher.
“I was just doing what the coaches told me to do,” said Smith, who worked 4.2 innings, struck out two, and allowed only one Rice run. “I was just trying to do my role and give my team a chance to win.”
When first summoned from the left field bullpen, Smith couldn’t not exactly be described as having any pep in his steps. By the third inning, he seemed eager to hop from the dugout back to the mound.
“That was pretty much when Matthew Guidry hit that grand slam, and that kind of made it easier. When our offense started getting runs every inning, that lightens the load a lot.”
Golden Eagle head coach Scott Berry was quick to praise Smith’s effort. The choice, he said, to pick Smith to pitch, wasn’t a hard one.
“We had to have somebody who had a good mix [of pitches],” said Berry. “Somebody that had more than two pitches, that could get a change up, because Rice is a good fastball hitting team. Colt is a guy who has come into those situations, not normally this early in the game, but has come in and got us through some innings without any damage. He’s the guy that steps up every time.”
Of his winning pitcher’s gifts, Berry credited a situational trait that might sound odd.
“I think what you saw, you saw a young man that was tired and he really had to grind it out. More importantly, when you’re tired you throw better. You don’t try to overthrow. I think that’s what you saw with Colt. He had some early success after he gave up the runs he inherited, he had three straight innings of zeroes. He held them down.”
Coupled with Smith’s 4.2 innings of work, Southern Miss would put up 17 runs on 18 hits, which Smith credited as a boost of energy.
By the end of the game, Smith seemed relaxed at a level not normally associated with a day’s work that amounted to a quality start.
“I’ve been doing it all year. Just come out of the bullpen and do what the coaches tell you to, and go out there and throw a couple of zeroes for the team,”