JEFFERSON CITY — The band of shirtless hecklers with red and white paint on their chests fell silent as the ball shot high and hard off the barrel of Jansen Smith’s bat.
The seven Jefferson City High School students, who had been tormenting the Rock Bridge players with insults hurled through cheap megaphones, could only watch, along with every else. The ball sailed over the right field fence and onto the grassy hill, inspiring awe as it went.
“No-doubter,” Rock Bridge coach Justin Towe said. “I knew it was gone as soon as he hit it.”
The mammoth home run accounted for Smith’s 41st and 42nd RBIs of the season, breaking the single-season school record held by Mark Kirchoff, who drove in 41 runs in 2000. It also lifted the Bruins to a 9-3 win over the Jays.
“I’m relieved,” Smith said, who admitted he had been pressing with the record on his mind. “It’s not forever. Someone is going to get in there and break it. But it’s awesome."
As awesome as the blast, in the true sense of the word. Smith has worked relentlessly at hitting the ball the opposite way, and it has shown this season. A lefty, he routinely peppers the hole between shortstop and third base. When he drives the ball, which is often, it usually heads towards the wall in left center. But his record-setting swing came courtesy of a fastball in his wheelhouse.
“First-pitch fastball that time,” he said. “I haven’t seen an inside pitch in a week, two weeks.”
The blast was the first peek of light on what had been a dark afternoon for the Bruins up to that point. Ace starter Kyle Teter left the game in the second inning, holding his elbow. He will be examined Wednesday morning. Towe said good news or bad news, Teter will rest for a while.
Smith's home run lightened the mood.
"I was warming up in the bullpen, and I heard a big gasp from our dugout,” said Logan Twehous, who earned the win on the mound and laced a three-run double at the plate as well. "It was a big weight off our shoulders."
And then there were the hecklers, who would yell "SWING!" just as the pitch crossed the plate, and who shouted at Teter as he left the field injured.
“Kids are kids,” Towe said. “You gotta love it because it shows school spirit. You would expect an administrator to take care of it. But you have to look at it as fun, because if don’t that means your head is in the wrong place.”
“They were running their mouth at our pitcher a little bit," Smith said. “We were hearing it.”
But the Jays wouldn’t steal this moment. It was his.
And as he crossed the plate, he extended his arm out towards the bleachers and pointed at them so they would know.