Smith hits for cycle in Mustangs' win

Reds prospect is sixth Pioneer Leaguer to achieve feat in '11

Bryson Smith has driven in 16 runs in 18 games for Billings. (Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun)

By David Heck / Special to | August 31, 2011 9:53 PM ET

Although his team was up seven runs, there was still tension in the air when Bryson Smith stepped up to the plate in the top of the ninth inning.

Needing a single to complete the cycle, the Reds prospect roped the first pitch he saw down the third-base line, stopping at first to complete the feat. The Rookie-level Billings Mustangs went on to beat the Helena Brewers, 14-9, for their seventh win in eight games.

"It feels awesome," said Smith, who finished with five RBIs. "First and foremost, I've got to thank God. Without him I couldn't do it. It's something I haven't done in my life. I don't know how to put it, but I'm pretty ecstatic."

Smith's cycle was the sixth in the Pioneer League this season and the ninth in the Minors in August. There's a chance he could have made it to second on his ninth-inning hit, but he thought the ball had been fielded by third baseman Kyle Dhanani.

"When he dove, I thought he caught it," Smith said. "I was sprinting with my head down and I took a second peek and saw it got by him. It was kind of too late to go for two. If I had a chance for the double, I would've taken it."

Smith launched a two-run homer in the second, then doubled in the fourth. He does not have a history of hitting triples -- he failed to record any at the University of Florida and had just one this year entering Wednesday's contest -- but he managed to leg one out with two outs in the fifth.

"It was two strikes and I was trying to protect," Smith said. "We had two runners on, [Chad Pierce] gave me a fastball up and out. I went with it, drove it to right-center and turned the burners on. At that point, I had no idea I even had a chance for the cycle, I was just trying to leg one out for the team."

Coming close to the cycle was teammate Ryan Wright, who hit one spot ahead of Smith in the lineup. The 21-year-old shortstop finished a single shy of the feat, grounding out in his final at-bat of the game.

"We talked about it -- we might've jinxed ourselves," Smith said. "We talked about getting it back-to-back. Unfortunately, he grounded out up the middle. He hit it pretty good, but the shortstop made a good play. I knew it was up to me to finish it."

Selected in the 34th round of this year's Draft, Smith is batting .353 with four homers and 16 RBIs in 18 games with Billings. He was suspended for 19 games during his senior year at Florida after being charged with a motor vehicle offense -- a mistake he plans never to make again.

"Sitting out those games was hard. That's a mistake I'll remember for the rest of my life," Smith said. "If there's anyone else I can influence to not do that, I feel like that's what I'm here to do.

"I'm thankful to the Reds for giving me the opportunity to play pro ball. God willing, I'm just trying to do the best I can, play hard and never put my team or myself in that position again. It's a lesson learned and something I'll never do again."

Looking back on his first year as a pro ballplayer, Smith said the transition was relatively easy, thanks to the Gators' pro-style program.

"The coaching staff there did a good job getting us ready," Smith said of his college team, which sent 11 players to the pros. "The only adjustment is hitting with a wood bat, and that wasn't too bad switching from aluminum bats. Like I said, it's a blessing to play. Getting out here and having fun is my main focus."

David Heck is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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