USC baseball anticipating fewer home runs

By Rick Henry - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The college baseball season is underway, but the scoreboards probably won't be working overtime this year.

College baseball fans won't see as many home runs this season. It is because of a rule change that's taken some of the pop out of the game.

USC Baseball Coach Ray Tanner made a prediction before the start of the 2011 season. "I just believe you won't see as many home runs," said Coach Tanner.

The prediction held true for opening weekend. The Gamecocks hit three home runs in three games against Santa Clara. Last year, Carolina belted six home runs in their first three games. "The ball just doesn't fly," said Coach Tanner.

The reason the Balls aren't flying out of the ballpark, new bats mandated by the NCAA. They're still aluminum, but now they perform more like wooden bats.

The aim is to decrease the speed of the ball leaving the bat. It gives pitchers a little more time to react when a ball is hit directly at them. It's also harder to hit home runs, so it means a change in strategy. "I think you're going to see some bunts," said Coach Tanner, "You're going to see some steals, some hit and runs. Guys are going to get picked off because you're going to try to force the action a little bit."

Fewer home runs means less scoring. Last weekend, Carolina put up 20 runs. It was eight fewer than last season's opening weekend. "Everybody's got to deal with it," said USC first baseman Christian Walker, "So there's no use complaining or any of that. So I mean it's pretty much shut up or put up this point."

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