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Smith shines in opener, rain suspends nightcap
Pitcher whiffs 12 to even series before storm arrives
11/18/2012 1:40 AM ET
Josh Roberts scored the lone run in Brisbane's opener win.
Josh Roberts scored the lone run in Brisbane's opener win. (Steve Bell / SMP Images)
BRISBANE, 17 November - Chris Smith has done it again.

The Brisbane Bandits import stunned the Canberra Cavalry in the first game of the Saturday doubleheader and helped the home team to a 1-0 victory in Round Three of the Australian Baseball League, brought to you by 'Be the Influence: Tackling Binge Drinking'.

Last week, the right-hander was a "pleasant surprise" for Bandits manager Kevin Jordan when he went six strong innings and struck out nine in his first ABL matchup. On Saturday, Smith bettered even himself. The native of Kentucky threw a seven-inning complete-game shutout, allowing just three hits, walking none and striking out 12 Cavalry batters.

"I think after last week he got better," Jordan said. "In Sydney there were a couple times Gary [Nilsson, pitching coach] and I talked about some of the pitches he might have thrown in certain counts that he didn't need to.

"I think that he took what he had last week and he condensed it more and was more effective with it. That result was in that seven-inning game he pitched tonight."

Outside of the three singles that Canberra notched in the game, Smith only allowed one ball out of the infield. Not only was he fanning batters left and right but he pitched to contact when necessary, he kept his pitch count down and remained remarkably efficient throughout.

"The biggest stat I'm happy with right now is that I haven't walked anybody," Smith said. "Walking people doesn't do anything but cause you trouble. I think club ball did a real good job of getting me ready for games and giving me the ability to use all my pitches."

While Smith effectively mixed in his entire repertoire of pitches against the Cavalry, his go-to pitch and a source of consistency and success for him has been his slider. Though the righty said he might be throwing it a little too much, his skipper is happy with what he's been able to do with the pitch.

"As a pitcher, you work off the hitters," Jordan said. "If the hitters don't make the adjustments then you continue to do what's made you successful. I think the hitters let you know how well you're pitching. So if there comes a time when teams are having success against his pitching style, then he'll have to make an adjustment."

The Canberra hitters certainly were letting Smith know how well he was doing on Saturday afternoon. After the early matchup of the doubleheader, all Cavalry manager Michael Collins could do was give credit where credit was due.

"We've got to tip our hats to Smith I guess," Collins said. "It's not the ideal way to start the day but he pitched a great ballgame. He threw a couple of different pitches for strikes and kept us off-balance. He did a great job."

Brisbane's lone run of the game came in the fourth inning, courtesy of the heart of the Bandits order. Two-time team MVP Josh Roberts hit a leadoff single before moving to third on a Cody Clark double. David Sutherland walked to load the bases with none out and Roberts scored on a double-play ball.

That proved to be all that the Bandits needed against southpaw Robert Dickmann, who earned his second no-decision for the Cavalry in his second quality start. Dickmann (0-1) threw five frames and allowed one earned run on four hits with one walk and four strikeouts.

"Our pitching again was outstanding," Collins said. "They've been the key for us in the early season so far. And our defence was great again. It was a great ballgame. It's unfortunate to come out on the side we did but at the end of the day, it was a good ballgame for both teams."

In the second game of the Saturday doubleheader, the Bandits got off to a torrid start with a six-run second inning. The game was suspended in the top of the fourth inning because of ongoing rain and an impressive lightning display. Brisbane led 6-1 as the game was postponed and it will be finished at a later date when the Cavalry and Bandits meet again.

This story was not subject to the approval of the Australian Baseball League or its clubs.