OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The top NCAA administrator who oversees the College World Series isn't as anxious about the dearth of home runs at the CWS as others in the baseball community.
NCAA managing director for championships and alliances Damani Leech told The Associated Press on Wednesday that a variety of factors came together to keep the ball from leaving TD Ameritrade Park before C.J. Hinojosa of Texas went deep Wednesday night in the seventh inning of the CWS' ninth game.
At the same time, Leech said, he's hopeful the move from a raised-seam to flat-seam ball in 2015 will nudge offensive numbers upward. Leech said it will take two years to know if the ball has the intended effect.
"Until you get 295 teams using that ball throughout the year, you don't really know for sure what's going to happen," Leech said.
Since the CWS moved to TD Ameritrade Park from Rosenblatt Stadium, a total of 23 home runs have been hit — nine in 2011, 10 in 2012, three in 2013 and one this year.
Homers across Division I have declined to rates not seen since the wooden-bat era because of dialed-back bats that entered the game in 2011.
UC Irvine coach Mike Gillespie has called the bat change a "nightmare," and TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle said "it's just a travesty what we've done to college baseball."
Leech said this year's CWS shouldn't be defined by the lack of home runs.
"I think this can turn into a runaway train from a dialogue standpoint and really take away from the great performances of the student-athletes we've had," he said. "Just because there aren't any home runs doesn't mean it's not great baseball."
On paper, this year's CWS didn't figure to be a homer fest. Among the top 200 draft picks here, eight are pitchers and four are hitters. Mississippi, with 42, is among four teams here that have hit 29 homers this season. There were six such teams each of the previous three years, including Florida squads that hit 69 in 2011 and 75 in 2012.
Another factor has been weather. South winds prevail in Omaha this time of year, but they've been unusually gusty the last week, blowing up to 30 mph.
"You look at the Big Ten tournament here, and they had eight (homers) in a span of 13 games," Leech said. "So same ballpark, roughly same time of year, a different set of teams, but a completely different set of results in terms of home runs."
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