Drew Smyly may be a rookie, but he's never let his inexperience keep him from performing well on the mound.
Pitching for the third time since coming off the disabled list, the Tigers prospect tossed seven hitless innings Wednesday in Class A Advanced Lakeland's 4-0 blanking of the Daytona Cubs.
The Flying Tigers yielded just one hit as Smyly (2-2) notched his second pro win, one start after earning his first.
"I was happy," Smyly said. "Before the game, I knew I was on a pitch count; it was the third start since I came off the DL. I got my first pro victory my last start. I just tried to put another good one together and I just started rolling."
Smyly struck out seven and issued three walks in the longest start of his brief career. The left-hander, who turns 22 on Monday, allowed only two balls to leave the infield and did not let a runner to advance past first base.
"Really, everything [was working]," said Smyly, a 2010 second-round Draft pick. "I had really good command of my fastball on the inside and outside of the plate. I made them stay honest with the slider. I threw all my pitches for strikes, which really helped me."
The outing was only the sixth of Smyly's professional career. He missed more than a month earlier this season with elbow tendinitis and is still building up strength.
"Probably around the fifth I realized they hadn't got a hit yet, but I walked three batters prior to that," Smyly said. "I knew I probably wasn't going the whole game. Every inning, I was just trying to go out there and keep us in the game. It was a 4-0 game at time, so one bad inning and it could turn on you quick."
Overall, Smyly has a 3.03 ERA and 29 strikeouts over 35 2/3 innings.
The California native said there's been just one other time when he took a no-hitter this deep in a game. As a freshman at the University of Arkansas in 2009, he came within two outs of pitching the first no-hitter in NCAA Tournament competition in 18 years.
"My freshman year in college at Regionals at Arkansas, we were playing at [the University of Oklahoma] and I took a no-hitter to one out in the ninth," he said. "The guy got an infield single -- he beat out a chopper to shortstop.
"I was a redshirt freshman at the time, so I wasn't a leader on the team. I think I was the third starter and I carried it all the way to ninth. That was a pretty memorable moment."
Tyler Stohr relieved Smyly to start the eighth and gave up a two-out single to Jake Opitz.
"It's funny because right when he hit it -- it wasn't hit hard, it was just a seeing-eye single through the hole -- we thought the second baseman [Corey Jones] was there," Smyly said. "But it took a bad hop before he could get to it.
"It was kind of disappointing, but we were up 4-0. A no-hitter's great, but we were trying to get the win. And a one-hitter's nothing to frown upon."
Jordan Lennerton led the way offensively for Lakeland with a pair of doubles and two RBIs.
Daytona starter Aaron Kurcz (3-2) took the loss after surrendering four runs on five hits in three innings.