'Slugging it out'

Local Panther settles old baseball debate

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When the Rhode Island State High School Science Fair begins tomorrow at the Community College of Rhode Island Knight Campus in Warwick, David Iannuccilli may have the two-day event’s most talked about project.

For starters, its baseball season and the Johnston High School junior, who is a member of the National Honor Society and Panthers veteran catcher, put together what may rank as one of the most unique of all projects during the 2019 Science Fair finals.

Iannuccilli’s project, which was one of six first place winners at the Feb 7th JHS Science Fair, is entitled “Slugging it Out” and centers around one of the hottest tops in baseball - the often-debated issue about the difference between wooden and metal bats.

“And yes, I do swing both,” said the son of JFD Rescue Battalion Chief David Iannuccilli and award-winning sports journalist Carolyn Thornton-Iannuccilli and brother of Emily Iannuccilli Monday night after a workout at the Rhode Island Baseball Institute in Warwick. “I love playing baseball and wanted to do something for my project that would be fun and I could speak intelligently about.”

It’s safe to say, several people commented Monday night while watching Iannuccilli swing both kinds of bats and later listening to him talk about the difference in the metal and wooden versions, that the talented teenager – who also plays on several summer teams that represent the John Mello-directed baseball academy – is steeped with interesting information about both bats.

For his project, Iannuccilli went to Woodlake Park and hit 50 baseballs off a tee, 25 with each kind of bat.

“After hitting the balls, I marked where they landed with numbered flags so that at the end I could measure the distance from home plate,” said Iannuccilli, who bats right and throws right. “I also used a Blast Motion Bat Sensor to measure the bat speed of each swing to try and keep them consistent.”

When asked which bat hit the ball farther, the well-spoken JHS catcher replied, “The metal bat hits the ball farther than the wood, even though when you measure the bats on a scale they weighted the same, the metal bats weight was more evenly balanced while the wood was more top heavy.”

Iannuccilli did his experiment in 68 degree weather with minimal winds and no precipitation. Both bats, he explained, were 32 inches long and weighed 29 ounces.

Moreover, after performing the experiment and looking at his data, Iannuccilli observed, “The hypothesis was proven that the metal bat hit the baseball father – 190.33 feet – while the wooden bat only hit the ball an average of 182.37 feet.”

He also discovered that the metal bat was able to be swung at a higher speed (55.71 mph) and the average speed for the wooden bat was 53.46 mph.

Iannuccilli’s unique study also included that the wooden bat, which is used by Major League players and comes in many colors, “and the type of wood that’s used to make the bat makes a difference in hitting the baseball, but everything else is purely cosmetic and does nothing for the travel of the ball.”

Metal bats, the informative JHS backstop continued, “Also come in many colors and designs but that doesn’t change the travel of the ball either.”

Iannuccilli also noted that there are aluminum and composite bats but the aluminum bats, he quipped, “are used more as you get older.”

In the experiment, Iannuccilli discovered that a wooden maple bat and aluminum BBCOR metal bat were used and all data was collected correctly, but the only challenge to the validity of the data would be that I had to hit all 50 baseball in the same day to keep weather conditions the same, so some numbers could be lower than they normally would because of fatigue.”

So, Iannuccilli proved that the metal bat – which he’ll use in the coming weeks in hopes of having his best baseball season ever for Head Coach Joe Acciardo’s Panthers – that the metal bat will hit the ball father than a wooden bat.

And that, a man noted while watching Iannuccilli swing away in the RI Baseball Institute batting cage Monday night, could lead to big problems for opposing pitchers in the coming weeks. 

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