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Survey shows coaches give high marks to flat-seam baseball

OMAHA, Neb. — An American Baseball Coaches Association survey shows nearly 90 percent of Division I coaches who responded have a favorable impression of the flat-seam baseball put into play this season.

More than 80 percent said no more changes to equipment are needed to improve the college game.

ABCA executive director Craig Keilitz announced the results at the College World Series. The NCAA replaced the raised-seam ball with the less wind-resistant flat-seam ball in an attempt to increase offensive production that had dipped to record lows after new bat standards went into effect in 2011.

"I think it's created a little more harmony between the offense and the defense," Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin said. "To me, it's been a better game. I like the adjustment. I don't even think about it anymore until a question like that's asked. To be honest with you, it's a good game right now."

Keilitz said nearly three-quarters of Division I coaches responded to the survey sent out at the end of the regular season. Of the respondents, 41.8 percent rated their impression of the ball as highly favorable and 47.8 percent favorable. Asked if more changes to the ball or bat were needed, 81.8 percent said no.

TCU's Jim Schlossnagle and LSU's Paul Mainieri said they're generally satisfied, but would like to change to the minor-league ball, which has a harder core.

"I think the biggest thing, quite frankly, is our pitchers enjoy throwing it more," Mainieri said. "There are no blisters. They get a little bit more movement, maybe even a little bit more velocity. I think it's been a slight improvement. I think more needs to be done."

BENINTENDI WINS HOWSER: Arkansas outfielder Drew Benintendi on Saturday received the Dick Howser Trophy as the national player of the year, then homered and drove in two runs in his team's 5-3 loss to Virginia.

Benintendi ranks among the top 15 nationally in seven offensive categories and is the NCAA leader with 20 home runs.

He's the first sophomore to win the Howser Trophy since Rice's Anthony Rendon in 2010, and the third recipient from the Southeastern Conference in four years.

The award is named in memory of the former Florida State shortstop and major league manager who died in 1987.

FOULS FOR CASH: Foul balls snagged by fans during the opening weekend will trigger thousands of dollars in donations from Allstate Insurance Co. to sports programs at Boys Town, the nationally acclaimed home for troubled youth in Omaha.

ESPN analyst Aaron Boone and Allstate, playing off its advertising slogan in the "Good Hands in the Stands" promotion, is giving a trophy to each person who catches or retrieves a foul ball. Allstate also will make a $500 donation for every foul ball in the stands, up to $25,000.

PINERO'S GREEN LIGHT: Daniel Pinero's decision to steal third base in the eighth inning against Arkansas was all his idea.

Pinero, who came into the game with six steals, had three of Virginia's five. No player had three steals in a CWS game since Arizona's Brad Boyer in 2004.

Arkansas starter Trey Killian left after Pinero singled in the eighth. Zack Jackson entered, and Pinero immediately stole second. Once he reached the bag, he decided to steal third on the next pitch because Jackson's high leg kick made him slow to the plate.

"I saw something I could take advantage of," Pinero said. "I got a huge lead and just kept creeping. I went on my own, and it worked out."