Travis Stout pitched in two of the three games in JSU’s sweep of SIU Edwardsville over the weekend and three times last week. Some arms might need some time after that kind of use, but no way does it impact the sophomore right-hander’s availability this week.
The Gamecocks (11-10) have two mid-week games in the run up to a big conference series at Austin Peay this weekend — tonight against Troy (12-6) at Rudy Abbott Field and Wednesday at Alabama (11-9) — and Stout could play a big role in them all.
If he is needed in either game — or both — he will be called, JSU coach Jim Case has said. Stout said if he is called, he will be ready.
“I know my role,” Stout said. “We’ve talked about it. I have to go out there and deal with as much of the game I can with the least amount of pitches because I have to be ready day after day. At this point in the year, we’re conditioned enough that we can keep going and going and going.”
Stout hasn’t pitched in every JSU contest this season, it’s just seemed that way.
He has worked in 10 of the Gamecocks’ 21 games this season and has had a hand in seven of their 11 wins. He was credited with his first win of the season Sunday. In that case, he was summoned in the eighth to prevent more damage after the Cougars homered to take the lead. He also has converted all six save opportunities this year. Going back to last season, he has wins in his last six decisions.
Think Todd Hornsby with a more conventional delivery. Hornsby, the Ohio Valley Conference’s all-time saves leader, appeared in 61 of the Gamecocks’ 117 games the past two seasons and had a hand in 35 of their 64 wins.
“First of all he’s an adrenaline junkie. He loves that,” Case said of Stout. “That’s a good thing for a closer to be. He loves pressure situations. He has a lot of confidence. He pitches way better when things are tight and on the line than he does when they are not. He’s not scared at all. He can throw any of his pitches at any time.
“We’re still trying to develop him as a closer, really. With Hornsby around here there wasn’t a whole lot of room for developing closers, so we’re still trying to develop that. I just want this team to know that every time we’re in that situation … the ball will end up in Stout’s hand sooner or later if we’ve got the lead.”
That was the idea with Hornsby and Alex Jones before him. When Case called them from the bullpen, the case was closed. The players are starting to feel that way about Stout.
“There’s no room for doubt in any of our minds when he comes in,” outfielder Adam Miller said. “He feeds off that adrenaline in the last inning. We know he loves it and we know that’s his job.”
Added Miller: “We basically have no other option but to trust him. It comes down to we know he’s going to go out there and he’s going to give us his best.”
Stout called it “an honor” to follow the likes of Hornsby and Jones, both submarine-style pitchers by the end of their JSU careers. He’s part of that legacy now.
“I guess there’s a little bit of pressure because I’m the closer and I have to deal with that stuff,” he said. “But I feel like I have the stuff to be able to close out any game any situation.”
When Stout first got his chance to pitch for the Gamecocks last season he was hoping he would catch enough eyes to someday become part of the Gamecocks’ starting rotation. The idea of being a starter is all behind him now.
“I like this role a lot now,” he said. “It’s adrenaline rushing and I like that.”
Al Muskewitz covers Jacksonville State sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3577.