Teams threatening tournament home run record
The cumulative home run record of 62, set in 2009, is in range of the teams at the 2017 Alpine Bank Junior College World Series. Home run numbers have continued to climb since the switch to BBCOR bats was made prior to the 2013 season.
BBCOR bats are aluminum bats that hit more like their wooden counterparts. Most lack the “ping” of older aluminum bats, the sweet spot on the barrel is smaller and the exit velocity of the baseball off the bat is lower.
Through 17 games, 60 home runs have been hit out of Suplizio Field. That’s a big jump from the 44 home runs hit at the 2016 JUCO World Series, the 43 hit in 2015, the 38 in 2014 and the 24 in 2013.
Before Wednesday night’s game between San Jacinto College-North (Texas) and Wabash Valley College (Illinois), which had no home runs, teams were on pace to break the record.
It’s not surprising that it was Chipola that put the tournament field back on track Thursday afternoon. The Indians launched four of their tournament-best 17 home runs as they eliminated Wabash Valley College (Illinois).
The biggest single-game contribution to the surge was the nine home runs hit Wednesday in a game between the tournament’s two best power-hitting teams. McLennan College (Texas) and Chipola. The Indians won 19-11, cracking five home runs. The Highlanders, who were eliminated, added four more, including two from Josh Breaux, who had four home runs in three tournament games.
ALL OR NOTHING
Strikeouts have remained relatively common at the 2017 JUCO World Series. Through 17 games, teams have combined to average just shy of 15 strikeouts per game. That’s less than the 15.8 average in 2016 and 16.4 in 2015, but much higher than the 12.7 average in 2014 and 10.6 in 2013.
This is despite the lack of huge strikeout totals by individual starting pitchers like there was in 2016. Cowley’s Garrett Hutson had nine strikeouts in nine innings pitched, spanning one start and one relief appearance. He lasted seven innings in the Tigers’ tournament-opener against Wallace-Dothan and struck out five batters in that game.
The bigger strikeout performances have come from full-time relievers. In only 4 2/3 innings of work, Chipola’s Junior Harding has 10 strikeouts and San Jacinto’s Donny Diaz has nine strikeouts in five innings across two appearances.