Tuesday, October 21, 2014
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Nitro’s Dunbar notices difference in bats

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- High school teams nationwide are adjusting to how baseballs react to considerably less energy off bats that are designed to make the game safer.

The BBCOR (batted ball coefficient of restitution) standard bats create less trampoline effect on impact.

Thicker bat walls and smaller sweet spots have potentially taken away the threat of serious injuries, in addition to high power numbers.

Nitro catcher Korey Dunbar, who hit 11 home runs as a junior, said the difference is noticeable.

"It's almost like it gets out there and just kind of dies and comes back down," said Dunbar, who had a double in Nitro's 3-0 victory over Logan on Tuesday at Brandon Matthew Sneed Field. "It's something you have to get used to."

Dunbar batted .532 last season with 13 doubles, and 16 players in the Kanawha Valley hit at least four home runs in 2011.

Logan Coach Roger Gertz expects home run totals to plummet relative to last season when those 16 players combined for 112 homers.

"I think the line drives will take care of themselves," Gertz said. "Even if you use wood, which these bats are supposed to be similar too, you're going to get hits with it if you hit it on the right part of the bat. It'll cut down on home runs, obviously, it has in college. It's sure going to on the high school level."

Nitro (5-0) and Logan (1-1) combined for 13 hits - 12 singles and Dunbar's double - but only three runs.

Both defenses were almost flawless, which continues to be a theme for a season when power numbers will be reduced significantly and ground balls will be easier to handle.

Nitro Coach Steve Pritchard, who is in his 11th season with the Wildcats after spending eight at Sissonville, said the bats likely are making the defenses better.

"The one thing that we haven't seen in BP (batting practice), you're not going to see as many bloop hits," Pritchard said. "Like we told the kids before the season and they believed us after the first scrimmage, 'This isn't the same game you grew up watching and the same game you grew up playing.' The wall in those bats are thicker and it doesn't have as much give."

Dylan Slack had two of Nitro's singles, which knocked in runs in the first and third innings.

Dunbar's double was a line drive on a 1-2 pitch.

The bottom of the Nitro lineup struggled, going 1-for-9 with seven strikeouts.

The only hit was an infield single by No. 9 hitter Ethan Clark, who legged out a grounder to third base.

There were a handful of close plays at first base, which not only had fans and coaches questioning calls, but featured the ball playing the fielders, rather than the fielders playing the ball.

Logan outhit Nitro 7-6, but all were singles - Benji Adkins and Justin Oney had two hits each - and Gertz's team left 11 runners on base.

"Our No. 8 guy (Matt Southers) got a little flare up the middle and they hit a couple we misplayed that weren't hit real hard," Gertz said. "Maybe it'll take the defense to get used to it too because maybe they're thinking it's coming harder than what it is, and it's not."

Dunbar - who used an all-black Easton SI Speed series bat - said he'd rather use wood, but doesn't have that option.

"They probably hit worse than wood," said Dunbar, who signed with the University of North Carolina this past offseason. "I think, on a hot day, they're good. On a cold day, I'd rather hit with leather or something.

"I'd rather hit with wood, but I'm using the bat that North Carolina's using right now and I need to get used to that. I talked with the coaches down there and they really like it a lot."

 

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