At 21 home runs and counting, this year’s College World Series has been a welcomed sight for fans, players and coaches who weren’t happy with the dimensions of TD Ameritrade Park and the type of baseball it produces.
“I think it’s good,” says senior shortstop Kramer Robertson. “I think yesterday you saw what a momentum swing it gave us when Mike (Papierski) hit his first home run. It gave us some breathing room. It can change a game quickly.”
Of course, it’s LSU leading the way in that category with seven of the 21 shots over the fence.
“I’m happy to see more home runs being hit,” says LSU head coach Paul Mainieri. “I think the game’s a little more interesting and a little more fun to watch. It’s certainly more fun to manage.”
But when it comes to why the balls are jumping out of TD Ameritrade Park this year, there are a number of factors. It’s the adjustments made over the years by coaches, players getting used to the BBCOR bats and the elements, which are out of everyone’s control.
“The wind’s been blowing out 18 to 20 miles per hour every game,” says Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan. “I think that’s aided and helped.”
“The wind has allowed the park to play fair,” says Mainieri. “I don’t think cheap home runs are being hit. I think balls that are hit well are being helped a little bit.”
Believe it or not, it also helps that pitcher’s are improving along with the hitters.
“Pitchers are throwing harder,” says O’Sullivan. “They’re supplying more power from that side of it. I think the hitters are better. I think it’s the combination of a ton of things.”
But no matter the reason, the Tigers know that as much as the home run can work for you, it can also work against you. All it takes is one at-bat to change everything.
“We have to be aware of that and know that the ball’s flying this year and more here than it ever has before,” says Robertson. “So no lead is safe. And if you’re behind on offense, know that you can change the game with one swing of the bat.”
If the wind keeps up, look for a few more long balls in the championship series. But that will be easier said than done against Florida’s pitching staff.
Copyright 2017 WVUE. All rights reserved.