By Clay Horning
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — It’s an amazing thing, because the double steal almost always works. Not every time and you look pretty foolish when it doesn’t, but it works the vast majority of the time.
So much so, you’d think the team being double-stealed upon would simply eat the baseball. But it doesn’t. Teams would rather give up the run 75 percent of the time than willingly give up the base.
It’s interesting because Norman North hit .500 with the double steal Monday night at Tiger Stadium.
So, the Timberwolves looked foolish once. But the other time, thanks to a throw in the dirt, they actually scored twice, which really almost never happens, and it was the difference in the game.
North beat NHS 3-2 on the benefit of not a single RBI and, really, only one hit. The T-Wolves had four hits, but only one figured in the scoring.
That leaves two takeaways from Chapter 1 of the Crosstown Clash, big diamond edition.
One, even as North continues to own the series, it’s always stunningly close.
It’s the craziest thing, but that’s the Clash. And when you put it together with soccer forever and basketball the last few years, even football the last couple, it’s truly amazing. Get the Tigers on one side and the T-Wolves on the other and you’re going to have high drama.
The other takeaway?
Get ready for a lot of double steals, a lot of bunts, a lot of hit-and-runs, more straight steals of third base, maybe a lot of trying to stretch singles into doubles, and maybe even, yegads, hitting behind the runner.
Blame the bat.
It’s called the BBCOR. Everybody makes a BBCOR, but they’re supposed to be, like stock cars, the same.
In its second season, the new bat is supposed to mimic wood.
That means no more batting around against reasonably good pitching. It means no more home runs unless you hit the ball on the button, and even then it won’t travel as fast or as far. And, more than anything, it’s supposed to mean no more pitchers taking their lives in their hands by throwing the ball over the plate.
It makes it harder than ever to rake your way to a state title or to collegiate supremacy in Omaha. So you better be well versed in the finer arts of handling the bat and running the bases.
“We’ve worked a tremendous amount on our bunting, our baserunning, our hit and runs, being able to handle the bat,” North coach Brian Aylor said. “Basically, we’ve worked a lot on our situational hitting.”
And Monday, even though Aylor thought his squad still made a bunch of mistakes at the plate and on the bases, it won him the game. Not that it makes him a BBCOR fan.
“They’ve gone so far on the safe side, I think they’ve made the game worse,” he said. “I’m almost ready to go back to wood bats.”
He said it like that would be a bad thing. Curious. Also, he said BBCOR bats actually have less life in them than wood.
Funny thing, then, is the case of NHS’ Dax Marley. If anybody should have been upset about the BBCOR, it’s the Tiger first baseman. With the old aluminum — even Aylor agreed — his sixth-inning double, instead of bouncing to the left-field wall, would have left the yard. And, turn his RBI double into a three-run home run and the Tigers win.
Only Marley likes the BBCOR.
When he first hit with it, he said he thought, “Uh oh, we’re going to spend all our time in the (hitting) cage.”
“Yes,” he said.
But he likes it.
“I think it’s perfect for high school,” Marley said. “It shows every team its strengths and weaknesses.”
Maybe there’s no right or wrong here. It’s just a story from last night’s Clash, and an explanation for the game you’ve been watching on your prep and collegiate diamonds beginning last season.
You know, the game that looks a whole lot more like baseball.
Follow me @clayhorning
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