Hit By Pitch Epidemic Threatens Game Integrity

Irvine Player Hit By Pitch 2007 CWSBy LOU PAVLOVICH, JR.
Editor/Collegiate Baseball
© 2015 Collegiate Baseball

ORLANDO, Fla. — A massive amount of hit batters took place during the 2014 college baseball season, a good portion on purpose by batters trying to gain an edge.

As a result, the NCAA Baseball Rules Committee has cracked down with precise wording in the rule to slow down this tactic.

Speaking in front of NCAA Division I, II and III coaches at the Rules Meeting at the American Baseball Coaches Association convention, NCAA National Coordinator of Umpires George Drouches outlined an epidemic that took place last year across NCAA baseball with batters who were purposely hit by pitches.

Beyond normal hit by pitches, batters purposely moved into pitches as they were drilled in many parts of their bodies to get on base

According to the 2014 final NCAA Division I statistics, batters were hit 91 times or more on 23 different teams last season.

Incredibly, 10 teams were hit 101 or more times last season.

The new rule states that a batter must make an attempt to avoid being hit by the ball.

If the umpire rules the batter did not make an attempt to get out of the way, or that he leaned into the path of the ball, a pitch inside the strike zone that touches the batter will be called a strike.

If the pitch is outside the strike zone, it will be called a ball.

The national team leader in hit by pitches last season was Maryland with 126 hit by pitches.

Eleven batters were hit 11 or more times with three being hit 19 or 20 times.

According to the final 2014 NCAA Division I statistics, there were 33 players who were hit 20 or more times last season led by Chris Cook of George Mason (31 HBP in 56 games) and Aaron Payne of Oregon (31 HBP in 64 games).

As far as NCAA Division II, Lander University batters were hit 130 times in 61 games. In NCAA Division III, Heidelberg was No. 1 with 116 hit batters in 44 games.

In junior college baseball, Hutchinson C.C. led NJCAA Division I schools with 134 hit batters in 60 games.

This is hardly the first time there has been a problem with batters purposely getting hit by pitches.

It has been a problem for well over 30 years as the NCAA Rules Committee has wrestled with this problem when severe flareups of hit batters have taken place.

When an all-time record 53 batters were hit in only 15 games during the 2007 College World Series, the NCAA Rules Committee took a tough stance on batters purposely getting hit by pitches.

More than half of the 53 hit batters purposely stuck a part of their body in front of pitches.

Shortly after the 2007 College World Series, the Rules Committee took a stance that that batters must make an attempt to avoid the pitch to be awarded first base.

The wording was changed slightly in subsequent years. But now batters must once again make an attempt to avoid being hit by the ball or they will not be allowed to take first base.

The most prolific hit by pitch artist college baseball has ever witnessed, Tyler Crabtree, has worked his tactics the past three years.

Last season for NCAA Division II Central Oklahoma University, he was hit a modest 23 times in 44 games.

But the year prior, he was hit 41 times in 49 games as the leadoff hitter.

This tied the NCAA all divisions record of 41 set by Chris Kline of Lincoln Memorial in 1997.

One year earlier, Crabtree was hit 41 times in 49 games at Eastern Oklahoma St. J.C.

Over a 3-year period, Crabtree was hit a staggering 105 times in 142 games.

No college baseball player has ever been drilled this many times over three years.

To read more about the epidemic of hit batters in college baseball, purchase the Jan. 23, 2015 edition of Collegiate Baseball by CLICKING HERE.