Colleges

New ball, better game as college baseball looks to bring excitement back

Posted November 14, 2013

North Carolina State coach Elliott Avent, center, follows his team against UCLA in the ninth inning of an NCAA College World Series baseball game in Omaha, Neb., Tuesday, June 18, 2013. UCLA won 2-1. (AP Photo/Ted Kirk)

— It came up just a few feet short of the fence, but NC State’s Trea Turner knew he had connected on one of the best swings of his career.

“That’s about as good as I can hit a ball right now,” a disappointed Turner said of the potential go-ahead three-run homer in the 2nd game of the Wolfpack’s first trip to the College World Series since 1968.

Turner wasn’t the only hitter to come up short last year in Omaha’s new state-of-the-art TD Ameritrade Park - and he wasn’t the only who noticed. Multiple coaches, some not even in the tournament, saw at least four balls hit that they thought should have cleared the fence. Even the New York Times felt the need to comment, writing a story centered on Turner’s home-run-that-wasn’t and the call for a rules change from several head coaches.

In two years at the new stadium, the CWS has seen just 19 home runs. In the final season at the old Rosenblatt Staduium alone it surrendered 32.

Power replenishing solutions are on the horizon, however.

Last week, the NCAA Division I Baseball Committee approved a new “flat-seamed” ball that carries about 20-feet farther. The new ball, similar to what is used currently at the minor league level, will be used starting in 2015 in the D-I playoffs.

North Carolina head coach Mike Fox, whose high-powered offense produced only one HR in Omaha last season, said it’s been discussed among the coaches and the coaches association for the last two off-seasons - and he supported the change.

“It’s a win-win for everyone,” said Fox. “The new ball doesn’t come off the bat any faster, it just carries farther. So once they approved it for player safety, I was on board.”

It might not be a coincidence that the quick change came on the heels of UCLA’s 2013 national title in light of the Bruins’ effective small-ball strategy. In one particular stretch in Omaha, UCLA won four consecutive games with a combined 11 runs, playing a defensive game perfect for the larger stadium.

The Bruins put the Wolfpack in the losers bracket in Omaha, and eliminated the No. 1 seeded Tar Heels soon thereafter, scoring just six runs in both games combined.

Wolfpack head coach Elliott Avent said he didn’t think the change was so much about UCLA as it was about more offense and home runs.

“Offense sells tickets. No sport wants to impede scoring, yet that’s exactly what college baseball has done in the past,” Avent said. “This is a great step forward, and basically everyone was behind it.”

The quick adjustment came because it technically isn’t a rules change. The ball can be modified without the formal process of, say, changing the bat, or the expensive process of altering the stadium.

“The new stadium [in Omaha] might be the most beautiful I’ve ever stepped foot in,” said Avent. “There’s no way they’re changing that. So the ball was the easiest way to do it.”

Fox reiterated Avent’s comments saying, “It would take an Act of Congress to change the rules, so this was the quickest way.”

Both coaches see the move as a positive for their programs - each known for their potent offenses that once again look to be two of the best teams in the nation next season.

“What isn’t fair, is for players to train one way all year, then come to Omaha and it’s a different game,” Avent added. “I’m not an emotional guy, but you could have fit a stick of quarters in my mouth I was so shocked when Trea’s hit fell short. And that isn’t fair to him or the work he’s put in all year. What’s most important is uniformity for the players.”

Fox also felt that standardizing the ball to what the minor leagues uses is a benefit for his players’ long-term development.

“They said the ball might make it harder on pitchers, but we’ve had guys come back from the minor leagues and say they love throwing new ball,” Fox said. “And of course batters love it.”

Neither coach thinks a simple rules change is why their teams will make it back to Omaha, but it certainly can’t hurt. Fox said, “The human element will always be more important than rules, but there aren’t really any losers here with the change.”

Ultimately, both area coaches simply seem happy to be at the helm of programs that need to be worried about what type of ball is being used in Omaha — since both plan to be back, often. UNC has been to six of the last eight College World Series’, and with returning national player of the year Carlos Rodon, the Wolfpack are looking to make repeat trips for the first time in school history.

4 Comments

This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • ezme22 Nov 14, 2:47 p.m.

    mooers never win

  • baldchip Nov 14, 1:44 p.m.

    Go Pack!! Baseball season will start before we know it. This-we can win!!

  • jamestownbball Nov 14, 1:16 p.m.

    It was obvious to anyone and everyone that well hit balls were not responding like they had... View More

    — Posted by 75Tarheel

    It wasn't technically a "rules" change -- which allows them do make the move faster.

  • 75Tarheel Nov 14, 1:00 p.m.

    It was obvious to anyone and everyone that well hit balls were not responding like they had during the regular season for the past two years. It's amazing to me that a change in the baseball happened this quickly.

  • CBB: North Carolina vs. Ohio State

    Today at 1:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • CBB: UCLA vs Kentucky

    Today at 3:30 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: San Diego at San Francisco

    Tonight at 8:25 on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: Panthers vs. Cleveland

    Monday at 1:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • CBB: UCLA at Kentucky

    Today at 3:15 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • NFL: Philadelphia at Washington

    Today at 4:25 pm on 620am

  • NHL: Canes vs. NY Rangers

    Tonight at 7:00 on 99.9 The Fan

  • CBB: NC State at West Virginia

    Tonight at 9:30 on WRAL-FM

Scoreboard
Local
Final
PHI 91
CHA 109
1:00pm Today
UNC
OSU
 
4:00pm Today
MVSU
NCCU
 
7:00pm Tonight
UNCW
ECU
 
7:00pm Tonight
CAR
NYR
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
UTA
 
9:30pm Tonight
WVU
NCSU
 
Final
PHI 91
CHA 109
Final
ORL 94
UTA 101
Final
CLE 95
BRK 91
Final
BOS 114
MIN 98
Final
DET 100
TOR 110
Final
MIA 103
WAS 105
Final
MEM 97
CHI 103
Final
SAN 119
POR 129
Final
DEN 109
LAC 106
Final
LAL 103
OKC 104
1:00pm Today
NYK
PHO
 
7:00pm Tonight
NOP
POR
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
UTA
 
8:00pm Tonight
HOU
ATL
 
8:30pm Tonight
DAL
SAN
 
9:00pm Tonight
DEN
IND
 
10:30pm Tonight
LAC
MIL
 
11:00am Today
LALAF
NEV
2:20pm Today
UTEP
UTST
3:30pm Today
COLST
UTAH
5:45pm Tonight
AFA
WMICH
9:15pm Tonight
BGU
SALABAMA
Final
YOUNG 92
WILB 71
 
Final
TULA 56
JST 49
 
Final
RAD 76
SIENA 66
 
Final
BUCK 88
CASEWEST 65
 
Final
LIB 94
CPNC 65
 
Final
SCAR 68
CLEM 45
Final
CMICH 97
CONC 60
 
Final
MIAMI 44
EKENT 72
Final
GWEBB 91
HIWASSEE 71
 
Final
ODU 60
MDES 43
 
Final
BUF 88
NIAG 62
 
Final
KSU 71
NCAT 57
 
Final
FAM 65
UNF 83
 
Final
NORST 81
NARZ 62
 
Final
DART 58
NILL 55
 
Final
MORE 60
NKENTUCKY 83
 
Final
UCSB 69
SDCHR 46
 
Final
STJ 53
GAELS 47
Final
ALA 69
STILL 49
 
Final
HAMP 66
TENST 54
 
Final
TENN 61
TENT 58
Final
WMARY 86
WSHMD 46
 
Final
MERC 67
COOK 46
 
Final
FLGC 83
FUR 78
 
Final
CALST 49
SDKST 53
 
Final
MTST 68
CHAT 58
Final
NDAK 78
DICKINSON 48
 
Final
LAMON 76
LSUALEX 71
 
Final
PRIN 77
LIP 55
 
Final
LAM 80
MLGN 53
 
Final
MINN 92
SEAT 57
 
Final
LOYC 73
SUTAH 57
 
Final
SELA 81
WINT 71
 
Final
SILL 52
NO 56
 
Final
MARQ 83
ALAAM 49
 
Final
TTU 72
ARKPB 51
 
Final
DEN 84
COLST 85
Final
CREI 75
TXPA 60
 
Final
CAL 78
EWASH 67
Final
UTST 69
IDST 56
 
Final
UTEP 55
ARZ 60
Final
CHAM 63
HAW 94
 
12:00pm Today
GEOR
CHAR
 
12:00pm Today
WKENT
LOU
 
12:00pm Today
MICH
SMU
 
12:00pm Today
CIN
VCU
 
1:00pm Today
BSU
ABCHRIST
 
1:00pm Today
PROV
UMASS
 
1:00pm Today
AMER
MNTER
 
1:00pm Today
UNC
OSU
 
1:00pm Today
IUPUI
SALA
 
1:00pm Today
VILL
SYR
 
1:00pm Today
VT
CITA
 
1:00pm Today
DUQ
MLOWELL
 
1:30pm Today
FAIR
BEL
 
2:00pm Today
YALE
GTDNS
 
2:00pm Today
FD
DEL
 
2:00pm Today
PSU
DREX
 
2:00pm Today
UNCG
ELON
 
2:00pm Today
ILL
MIZZ
 
2:00pm Today
CAMP
MONT
 
2:00pm Today
LONG
PSUBEAVER
 
2:00pm Today
HOU
SCST
 
2:00pm Today
FSU
SFLA
 
2:00pm Today
BING
BONA
 
2:00pm Today
RUTG
RFLSH
 
2:00pm Today
MCNST
TOL
 
2:00pm Today
JVU
TRUETT
 
2:00pm Today
GT
VANDY
 
2:05pm Today
INDST
EILL
 
2:30pm Today
BUT
IND
 
3:00pm Today
STEPH
ARTCH
 
3:00pm Today
OREG
DELST
 
3:00pm Today
Terriers
FATL
 
3:00pm Today
TXARL
HPYN
 
3:00pm Today
KU
LAF
 
3:00pm Today
ARKST
MARS
 
3:00pm Today
MEM
ORU
 
3:00pm Today
KNST
UMBC
 
3:00pm Today
NW
WMICH
 
3:05pm Today
MIZST
EMICH
 
3:05pm Today
CHIST
STJOE
 
3:30pm Today
KENT
UCLA
 
4:00pm Today
COC
DAVID
 
4:00pm Today
RIU
DET
 
4:00pm Today
UCR
HOUB
 
4:00pm Today
MURST
ILLST
 
4:00pm Today
NWST
LALAF
 
4:00pm Today
WAGN
MON
 
4:00pm Today
MVSU
NCCU
 
4:00pm Today
PITT
OU
 
4:00pm Today
TENNM
PBY
 
4:00pm Today
WYO
SOUTH
 
4:00pm Today
AFA
UCD
 
4:00pm Today
MSST
USCU
 
5:00pm Tonight
JMU
HIGH
 
5:00pm Tonight
TXST
HTILL
 
5:00pm Tonight
DRAK
ISU
 
5:00pm Tonight
SHU
UNH
 
5:00pm Tonight
SCU
NE
 
5:00pm Tonight
MSU
TXSOU
 
5:00pm Tonight
UF
WAKE
 
5:15pm Tonight
ND
PURD
 
5:30pm Tonight
SHSU
PVU
 
6:00pm Tonight
AUB
XAV
 
7:00pm Tonight
AKR
BLUFFTON
 
7:00pm Tonight
DAY
BU
 
7:00pm Tonight
UNCW
ECU
 
7:00pm Tonight
CLMB
HOF
 
7:00pm Tonight
GMAS
IONA
 
7:00pm Tonight
TOWS
LAS
 
7:00pm Tonight
MAN
MRGST
 
7:00pm Tonight
CCST
YALE
 
7:00pm Tonight
PEPP
RICH
 
7:00pm Tonight
MAR
STJOE
 
7:00pm Tonight
KYST
TEXAM
 
7:00pm Tonight
MAST
VALPO
 
7:05pm Tonight
UMKC
INCWORD
 
7:30pm Tonight
IDST
CALST
 
7:30pm Tonight
NIOWA
IOWA
 
7:30pm Tonight
SIUE
UWMIL
 
8:00pm Tonight
TEX
LBSU
 
8:00pm Tonight
TCU
TXSA
 
8:30pm Tonight
ARK
SEMIZ
 
9:00pm Tonight
NCOL
JVST
 
9:00pm Tonight
ARST
LEH
 
9:00pm Tonight
NMST
NMU
 
9:00pm Tonight
WASH
OKLA
 
9:00pm Tonight
GRCN
STED
 
9:00pm Tonight
WEBER
WLVRN
 
9:30pm Tonight
WVU
NCSU
 
10:00pm Tonight
SDST
BST
 
10:00pm Tonight
GONZ
CPSL
 
10:00pm Tonight
PAC
FRES
 
10:00pm Tonight
PORT
MNTST
 
10:00pm Tonight
CSNO
TAMCC
 
10:05pm Tonight
UTST
SDKST
 
11:00pm Tonight
BYU
STAN
 
11:30pm Tonight
UNLV
UTAH
 
Final
NJD 3
TAM 2
Final
OTT 6
ANA 2
Final
DET 1
NYI 2
Final
WIN 2
BOS 1
Final
CAL 1
DAL 2
4:00pm Today
LOS
ARI
 
7:00pm Tonight
CLB
CHI
 
7:00pm Tonight
BUF
COL
 
7:00pm Tonight
PIT
FLA
 
7:00pm Tonight
CAR
NYR
 
7:00pm Tonight
MON
OTT
 
7:00pm Tonight
TOR
PHI
 
7:00pm Tonight
NYI
TAM
 
7:00pm Tonight
NJD
WAS
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
NAS
 
10:00pm Tonight
VAN
CAL
 
10:30pm Tonight
SJS
STL
 
4:30pm Today
WAS
PHI
8:25pm Tonight
SFX
SDC