Chatt Valley makes changes to get bats going after shutout

Nolan Greckel and Chatt Valley went back to hitting line drives instead of swinging for the fences after being blanked by Iowa Western on Monday.

Everybody loves a home run.

There’s nothing better than watching a baseball disappear over the wall at Suplizio Field.

Colorado is all about the home run: Thin air, altitude, aluminum bats — players know the ball will fly in Grand Junction.

There were 281 runs scored in the first 17 games of the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series. Only one team was shut out: Chattahoochee Valley Community College (Alabama).

The Pirates had only four hits in their 8-0 loss to Iowa Western Community College on Monday night.

After the dismal outing, the Pirates needed to figure out their hitting woes fast or it was going to be a quick trip back to Phenix City, Alabama.

“We’re in Colorado and the ball goes a long ways, so we really had to just think about getting back to hitting line drives again,” first baseman Will Campbell said.

The Pirates’ problem was solved during batting practice.

After the Pirates rebounded for a 14-11 win over Harford Community College (Maryland) on Wednesday, coach Adam Thomas said batting practice was the key.

“We started getting a little home run happy in BP and you can do that out here because it’s fun, home runs are fun. We got a little backside tilt going,” he said after the game.

Pirates hitting coach Dash O’Neill said it just took a little reminder.

“I think you have to approach it the same way you approach it from Day 1, but what happens out here is it gets easy for guys to think about hitting the long ball and doing more than they are capable of,” he said. “We can hit the ball out of the park but we’re really more of a line-drive club.”

Chatt Valley got back to the basics of hitting line drives and the result was impressive. The Pirates had 17 hits in the win over Harford, then 15 hits in the 13-3 seven-inning win over San Jacinto College-North (Texas) on Thursday.

The Pirates were shut down by San Jac left-hander Devin Smeltzer on Friday night and eliminated by the Gators, but without those batting-practice adjustments, Chatt Valley would not have earned a third-place finish.

The main thing O’Neill reminded his hitters was to use the entire ballpark.

“You remind them that there’s more than one part of the field, there’s an opposite field, there’s a middle of the field,” he said. “Most base hits happen about 12 feet off the ground not 70 feet off the ground and not on the ground.”

Sophomores Campbell and JT Thomas were both in Grand Junction last year, so they know how easy it is to think about hitting home runs.

“It’s easy to think about hitting home runs out here,” Thomas said. “We just got back hitting line drives. We’ll still hit home runs, but line drives are our game.”

Campbell said Chatt Valley got out of its game in the loss to the Reivers.

“We depend a lot on the big inning, I think against Iowa Western we got behind early and started trying to hit the eight-run home run,” he said.

O’Neill gave more credit to the players righting the Pirates’ ship.

“I think me reminding them was really the smallest aspect of why they got it into gear. They talked to each other and realized what they needed to do,” he said.


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