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By DANNY P. SMITH
It took a little over four hours to play two college baseball games at Mississippi State's Dudy Noble Field on Friday.
There were times in the not so distant past that time frame wouldn't hold even one game.
With the use of the new NCAA mandated pitch and between-the-inning clock, along with new bats, the speed of the game has picked up a bit.
After the Akron Zips zipped through a 2-1 victory against Lamar in 2 hours and 8 minutes, the homestanding Bulldogs opened their season by defeating Akron 11-0 in exactly 2 hours.
MSU baseball coach John Cohen believes the combination of clock and bats do make for a quicker game.
"You wonder if it's the clock or the bat. That's going to be the mystery," Cohen said. "We've got 55 more games to figure that one out. I'm sure it's not going to be the clock alone, but I think the two things working together will make the difference."
The NCAA has adopted the use of a 20-second pitch pitch clock and a 90-second between-inning clock kept on an umpire's stopwatch beginning this season.
After using a visible scoreboard clock on an experimental basis during the 2010 Southeastern Conference Tournament, the league has decided to make the visible scoreboard clocks mandatory in the SEC.
Upon receipt of the baseball, a pitcher has 20 seconds to begin his pitch, and there will be a a 90-second limit to begin an inning. Violations will be administered as a called strike or ball by the homeplate umpire.
The exceptions to the rules are the 20-second clock will not be used when there is a runner on base, and the 90-second clock, which is extended to 108 seconds for television games, will not be enforced when the catcher is at the plate or on base at the end of an inning.
The Zips and Bulldogs played the first five innings of Friday's second game in one hour.
It didn't take long at all for MSU starting pitcher and Eupora native Devin Jones to reach a career-high seven innings pitched.
Jones said he didn't have any problem meeting the 20-second requirement between pitches, but the 90-second limit between innings was more of a challenge.
"In between innings, you didn't have a whole lot of time to get ready," Jones said. "The 20-second clock didn't bother me and actually kept up the tempo of the game. I actually kind of enjoyed it."
Jones said Cohen has done a good job of keeping MSU aware of the time factor.
"We haven't had the clock up, but coach Cohen has had his stopwatch out in all of the intersquads," Jones said. "I feel like the coaches prepared us very well this year so we'll see what's next."
As far as the use of the new kind of aluminum bat, it takes away the so-called "trampoline effect" and the ping that has been associated with college baseball for so many years.
MSU senior shortstop Jonathan Ogden, who was one of the offensive leaders against Akron with a single and home run, said the new bats should fit his ball club well.
"We're all oriented to hit line drives and ground balls," Ogden said. "We're trying to keep the ball out of the air this year. We're not the biggest team in the SEC so we're going to play a lot of small ball."