Coaches, players say hit batters at CWS more than coincidence

OMAHA, Neb. -- Rice coach Wayne Graham said Wednesday that
the record number of players getting hit by pitches at this year's
College World Series is more than a coincidence.

"It basically started on the West Coast," he said. "In my
case, it's not a coach teaching it. I've never taught anybody to
get hit with a baseball, but I don't know whether some programs do
or not."

Five more batters were hit in Wednesday's game between North
Carolina and Rice, bringing the CWS-record total to 42 hit batsmen
in 11 games before UC Irvine and Oregon State played Wednesday

There were five hit batsmen with the bases loaded in the CWS
before the Irvine-OSU game and 10 players who scored after being
hit. Cal State-Fullerton tied a CWS record on Monday when it hit
five batters in a game against UC Irvine.

Rice's Ryan Berry hit Carolina's Reid Fronk to open the game,
and Fronk scored in the inning. It was the third time this series
that the first batter in a game was hit by a pitch.

Rice's Joe Savery said after the game that the record setting
numbers are "absolutely" more than a coincidence.

"Either say that you don't have to get out of the way and just
let it go as it's going, or establish the fact that you are
supposed to try to get out of the way, and call it the way it
should be," Savery said.

Savery's opinion comes from spending time on the mound and in
the batter's box. The junior leads his team in batting average in
playing all 68 games, and also has an 11-1 record with a 2.99 ERA
in 18 starts.

"As a pitcher it's very frustrating because you feel like
you've got to throw in some if you're going to be successful,"
Savery said. "You can't always have guys throw their elbows out
and their knees out trying to get hit."

"A lot of the time you're going to get legitimately hit, but
those five to 10 times a year when you're throwing your elbow out
there, it may end up winning the game," he said.

NCAA officials have noticed the number of hit batters
increasing. Earlier this week, a top umpiring official issued a
statement saying that the Division I baseball committee would
review individual hit batsmen rulings by umpires as part of a
general review of the CWS.

The statement came after a controversial call in Monday night's
Cal State-Fullerton-UC Irvine game resulted in Irvine's Taylor
Holiday on first and Fullerton coach George Horton ejected from the
game after arguing that Holiday tried to get hit by the pitch.
Holiday was later thrown out at the plate but Irvine won the game
on the next play.

Holiday -- who was hit three times in the game -- said afterward
he knew the pitcher was throwing inside and he wanted to give his
team a spark.

The rules say that if a batter intentionally gets hit by a pitch
by moving himself into it, he shouldn't be awarded first base,
according to Dave Yeast, NCAA national coordinator for baseball

"I think the umpires are trying to emphasize and try and do a
good job. They have a difficult job in that they're not only trying
to look at the pitch," Carolina coach Mike Fox said. "I mean,
it's impossible for them to look at the pitch and look at what the
hitter's doing at the same time."

Creighton's Robbie Knight said Wednesday that some players can
get themselves hit more than others, some by trying to take away
the inside of the plate.

"It's a big part of baseball, taking one for the team," said
Knight, who set an NCAA record by being hit by 35 pitches this
season. "You have to get on base to get something to happen."

Creighton led the NCAA this season with 116 hit batsmen until
Tuesday, when it was passed by UC Irvine.