It's not exactly the year of the home run at the National Baseball Congress World Series. One wouldn't say the baseballs are juiced, either.
But there have been more home runs. In 2009, only 15 homers were hit. Just past the midway point of this year's tournament, 29 homers had been hit, including three grand slams. No grand slams were hit in 2009 or 2008.
This year's grand slams were hit by Katy (Texas) Collegians' Luke Clements, Seattle Studs' Kevin Corrigan and Liberal's Blake Bergeron.
St. Joseph (Mo.) Mustangs left fielder Don Lambert hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning of St. Joe's 9-4 victory over Sedalia (Mo.) Bombers on Saturday at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
"We've faced some good (pitchers) so far," Lambert said. "The pitching's there... I don't know the difference between this year and last year, the pitch I got, it was a slider and I was kind of looking for it."
St. Joe pitcher Adam Maddox knows all about giving up homers — his teammates have nicknamed him Mad Bomber because he gives up about one homer a game.
"It sounds really cliche, but it's baseball," Maddox said. "Some people say it's the baseballs.... It's the pitches. If you're a good pitcher and make a bad pitch, a good hitter will make you pay."
Run rule — The NBC has long had the run rule of 10 after five — if a team is leading by 10 runs after five innings, the game is called. But this year it added the run rule of eight after seven.
It was an effective rule that was used at the Midwest Regional and kept the tournament on schedule. Of the 23 Midwest Regional games, 10 were run-rule games.
The NBC had used a run rule of six after seven, but stopped using it in 2000.
Recaps — The Austin (Texas) Gold Sox's Jonathan Gonzales was 3 for 4 with one run and six RBIs as the Gold Sox run-ruled the Wichita Elite Sluggers 13-1. Gonzalez now has nine RBIs, eight hits and a .615 batting average in three games.
* The Kenai (Alaska) Peninsula Oilers edged the League City (Texas) Hornets 4-3. Kenai had seven hits with Pablo Bermudez leading the way, going 2 for 3 with two RBIs.
Kenai opened the game with three runs but didn't score again until the ninth after League City had tied the score with three runs in the eighth.
* The San Diego Stars eliminated the Hutchinson Monarchs 5-4 in Saturday's early game. San Diego, which scored two runs in the top of the ninth for a two-run lead, was led by Michael Lange (two for four, RBI) and Alan Brace (two for three).
* In a late game Friday night, the Derby Twins beat the Crestwood (Ill.) Panthers 3-2 by scoring the go-ahead run in the 12th inning. The Twins were led by Tyler Hancock, who was 3 for 3 with an RBI.
* The Gunnison (Colo.) Colts beat the Chilicothe (Mo.) Mudcats 6-1.