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Bryant adjusting to life on bench

Mark Hazelwood • Apr 8, 2011 at 11:22 PM

By the time Spencer Bryant had been a part of 28 baseball games a year ago, the right-handed pitcher had thrown close to 50 innings of work as the senior ace for the Perkins Pirates.

But as a member of the bullpen for Kent State University as a freshman, Bryant has seen the mound just four times in the Golden Flashes first 28 games.

"For anyone coming from high school who threw all the time and got to experience some big games, it's an adjustment," Bryant said. "Everyone is just as good as you, if not better.

"You have to know your role, adjust to it and make yourself better until you can be that pitcher that is out there all the time."

The start has been sporadic for Bryant, who has allowed seven earned runs on 12 hits in his seven innings of work. He has walked four batters and struck out two.

"I threw against Louisville earlier this year, who was ranked in the Top 20 at the time," Bryant said. "And if you miss three inches off the plate, it's going to end up a hit.

"It's a huge difference between hitting your spot in high school and hitting it here. You can't make that mistake."

The 2010 Perkins graduate opened the season with an appearance against No. 11 Georgia Tech on Feb. 19 in Atlanta, and pitched a scoreless inning.

Against No. 27 Louisville on March 22, Bryant allowed two runs on five hits in two innings of work.

In his most recent outing on Tuesday at Penn State, Bryant was torched for five runs on five hits in two innings of work.

"Spencer is handling things very well," Kent State head coach Scott Stricklin said. "Almost everyone has to make that adjustment from pitching every day in high school and being the star and becoming a role player at college when you first get here.

"But he's doing everything we've asked, and when he has gotten to pitch I think at times he has shown he can hold his own out there. We're excited about him moving forward."

Bryant was a four-year contributor for the Pirates and finished his senior season last spring with a 6-1 record and a 1.08 ERA, helping pitch Perkins (23-7) into a regional semifinal matchup against Wapakoneta.

Bryant finished with 56 strikeouts to 16 walks and 41 hits in 48 innings of work, while allowing 13 runs, seven of which were earned.

Those numbers earned Bryant first-team honors in the Sandusky Bay Conference and the Division II District 9 team.

One aspect of college life that Bryant has enjoyed is the ability to learn from the Kent State coaches while soaking in the experience.

"It's a little different at first, but there is more free time on your hands and you have to make decisions on your own," Bryant said. "I kind of like the fact that even though I'm not playing a lot, I'm learning under one of the best staffs around.

"I just really like the situation of being learning under these coaches and pitchers."

One of the bigger adjustments the freshman made, however, was putting all his attention into classes and baseball. At Perkins, Bryant was a two-year starter at quarterback and often had to balance the two sports, which ultimately overlapped during the summer months.

"It's a lot different in that regard, things are more spread out," he said. "Before, I had different practices here or there for different sports. It's kind of nice knowing I have two hours to focus on just baseball and not having to worry about another sport after that."

One thing Bryant hasn't had to worry about is making friends. Fellow Perkins alums in Kyle Hallock (2007) and Cody Koch (2009) are members of the Golden Flashes, along with Andrew Chafin, a 2008 Western Reserve graduate and former Sandusky Post 83 teammate of Bryant's.

"It made the adjustment a lot easier, honestly," he said. "I already knew several people that made me comfortable and showed me the ropes a little bit."

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