Junior Cooper Smith was certainly happy to see the game become official as it reached the fifth inning. Smith earned his first official pitching decision of the season, winning in his third start with five solid innings of work on the mound for the Bulldogs Saturday.
Smith earned no-decisions after pitching into a 10th inning of a scoreless tie with Waukee, forcing Ottumwa to forfeit a high-quality start. Smith also pitched well into the seventh against Marshalltown eight nights earlier, but late-inning errors allowed the Bobcats to rally for a lead before the Bulldogs rallied themselves in the bottom of the seventh after Smith had been pulled for Collin Schulz.
“Tight decisions can sometimes come back to bite you,” Smith said after allowing just one earned run on five hits while striking out four batters and walking none. “It just feels good to come back and finally get that first win, but if it wasn’t for the defense and hitting of our team it wouldn’t have happened for me.”
“Ever since (the second game) against Ankeny, he’s really pitched well for us,” Jaeger said of Smith. “You’re going to give up hits. It’s just a matter of how many hits and how many they can string together. If you don’t allow them to get hit after hit after hit, you’re not going to get hurt as much by that.”
Smith came up big with a pair of his own hits, helping his own cause by putting Ottumwa on top in the third inning with a two-out infield RBI single. It was part of a successful strategy for the Bulldogs of using their speed to counter the Centerville’s starting pitcher Levi Sebolt and his devastating curveball.
“It’s something we work on daily and if team’s aren’t going to defend it, we can make it tough on them,” Jaeger said. “Centerville’s always going to be tough. They’re a team that’s coached by someone that’s been teaching the game for a number of years and knows how to teach the game the right way.”