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Mississippi coaches discuss new college baseball rules

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College baseball, which has largely stayed the same in terms of rules since its full-on inception in 1947, recently introduced some big changes.

In a nutshell, here’s what’s different for the 2023 season:

  • A 20-second action clock with runners on base now starts when a pitcher receives the ball and ends when he begins his pitching motion. Upon violation, a ball will be added to the count. If a batter commits a similar infraction, a strike will be added to the count.
  • A 30-second timer on mound visits now begins as soon as the coach exits the dugout or when a defensive player leaves their position to visit the pitcher’s mound. If the coach does not return to the dugout prior to time expiring, a ball will be added to the pitcher’s count. Subsequently, if the batter is not back in the batter’s box before time expires, a strike will be added to the count.
  • A 2:30 (2 minutes and 30 seconds) timer on pitching changes now begins when the new pitcher crosses the warning track. Upon expiration of the clock, the 20-second pitch clock shall commence, and if the pitcher fails to throw a pitch within the 20-second window, a ball will be added to the count.

As programs across the country continue to acclimate to the new rule changes – which are all intended to speed up game time – Mississippi coaches are voicing their opinions on the matter.

Chris Lemonis, Mississippi State

Following Mississippi State’s opening weekend series victory over VMI, head coach Chris Lemonis said that he had mixed feelings about the new rule changes. Although he understands the pros of speeding up the game, he still has some concerns about hitters getting stuck in the box via the 20-second action clock.

“Some of it’s a little too much,” Lemonis said. “I feel bad for the hitter that gets in (the box) at 18 seconds, and then, the pitcher takes it down to two seconds and you’re sitting there stuck, and the hitter can’t call a timeout.”

Lemonis added that he believes game time can be condensed without having to alter the origins of the game, especially with college baseball working toward prime-time TV slots.

“I know we’ve gotten a lot of knock lately, but it’s TV-based,” he continued. “We have to get our games back under control. 10 years ago, we were playing games in two and a half hours, and TV’s part of why we went bigger, but they’ve gotten slower for a lot of ways.”

Alluding to excessive advertisements, Lemonis thinks there’s a happy-medium between cutting game time and cutting advertising time. He also said that while the 10-run rule set to be activated once SEC play commences may take away at-bats from some, it’s a fine solution in terms of cutting down game time.

Mike Bianco, Ole Miss

While Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco agreed with Lemonis’ notion that the new rules could be detrimental to hitters, he believes the changes present harm to pitchers as they get into their set/stretch.

“I thought it was unfair that our hitters have until 10 seconds left to get in the box and the guys are pitching at 18 seconds and out guys aren’t in the box,” Bianco said. “I saw it as kind of a reverse of what’s happening in some other areas around the country.”

Even though he believes there’s still some kinks to be worked out, Bianco did admit that the new rule changes did a good job of speeding up the game.

“There’s no doubt that it works,” Bianco said. “The games were much faster this weekend – not just here but across the country.”

Scott Berry, Southern Miss 

While Southern Miss head coach Scott Berry mostly stayed mum on his opinion, he did say the new rule changes are just something both coaches and players are going to have to get used to.

“I just think they’re rules we all have to adjust and we all have to adapt to,” Berry said. “There’s no arguing the rules. You better figure it out and not be hardheaded about it or you’re going to get penalized for it.”

Berry added that the rule changes, specifically the 20-second action clock, are something that he’s still trying to get used to.

“We’ve just got to make sure that we get our signs and get everything done quickly and get ourself moving in the flow of the game,” Berry said.

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