Setting HR record shows teams love to hit at Suplizio
Leading up to the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series, the coaches of the 10 teams have heard all about how the ball flies in Grand Junction.
But with JUCO fighting rain the first four days of the tournament, the assumption was that this wasn’t going to be a good year for offense.
When Western Nevada’s Travis Feiner hit a two-run home run Thursday night against Howard College in the bottom of the first, it was the 59th home run hit in the tournament.
One home run was hit Friday, which puts the new record for home runs in a tournament at 60. That is two more than the previous record of 58, which was set in 2002.
“You can really see the ball well, and it flies here,” said Feiner, who finished with three home runs.. “That’s a great combination for a great hitter’s park.”
There has been at least one home run hit in 15 of the 17 games, including 11 games with at least three home runs.
Santa Fe has been a magnet for the big home run game, not only blasting 12 as team, but also playing in games with nine, seven, six, five and two games with one home run hit.
The long ball wasn’t a part of the Saints’ arsenal this season — they only hit 50 in 52 games.
Ryan Mathews was Santa Fe’s leading home run hitter, with 11 during the regular season.
The outfielder has done well since arriving in Grand Junction, hitting four home runs.
“It has been surprising for us,” Mathews said. “We weren’t a home run team during the year, but the whole team has done a great job one through nine hitting the ball. It just so happens a few have flown out.”
Saints center fielder Keon Broxton leads the tournament with five home runs, and finished one away from tying the tournament record of six, which was set by Jeff Kipila of Brookdale (N.J.) in 1986 and tied by Jerry Shepherd of Middle Georgia in 1990.
Broxton hit five home runs the whole season.
Although Santa Fe coach Johnny Wiggs said Broxton’s power display at the tournament has been the culmination of a strong end to his season, he acknowledges Suplizio Field is a hitter’s park.
“The wind seems to blow out here, it’s only 302 to left, and the light air,” Wiggs said. “We don’t see these kind of home runs back home.”
Wiggs said he expected the games to be high scoring, with more home runs hit and even addressed his pitching staff about that.
“Our pitchers are a little taken back, and I’ll be honest, they don’t love pitching here,” Wiggs said. “I told my wife that I would never leave for a pitching coach job in Colorado.”
With Western Nevada being the only team that could truly be used to playing at high elevation with thin air, there has been a general ‘wow factor’ from the rest of the teams.
“I have never been in Colorado or anywhere the air is this thin,” Mathews said. “It’s pretty ridiculous how the ball travels out of this park.”