During baseball practice, one important thing to do (that’s often overlooked) is going over hitting situations with your team. During game time, having the knowledge of these situations that commonly occur can help your players score more runs.
Execution – knowing when, where, and why to use these situations – is important to every team’s success. In order to win, you have to score. Situational hitting will allow you to do both.
Sacrifice Bunt Situation
The obligation of the bunter is to bunt only strikes.
With a runner on first, he would preferably bunt the ball on the first base side of the diamond. The reason is to try to make the pitcher and the first baseman have to make a decision as to who fields the ball.
The situation developing is a place where a team feels that one or possibly two runs could make the difference in the game. So therefore they are giving up an out, or the possibility of an out, to advance a runner in to second base.
The obligation of the runner is to get a good lead, two shuffles into a secondary lead, and make sure the ball is bunted on the ground. If the ball is bunted on the ground, he sprints for second.
The runner should peak into the hitter and keep his eyes on the ball to determine if the ball is on the ground, but also to determine where the play is going to be made. By peaking in, he’s not slowing himself down, but he’s on a dead sprint to second base. If he’s sure the play is going to come to second, he must slide in to the base.
The bunter, after getting the ball down, must run to the outside of the baseline when he is 45 feet from the base, especially if the ball has been bunted on the first base side. Running to the inside of the baseline could bring about an interference call if he is hit with a thrown ball towards first base.
A sacrifice bunt may also be used with runners on first and second. In this situation, the bunter tries to bunt the ball towards the third baseman to make the third baseman make a decision as to whether he’s going to cover the bag or come up and field the bunt.
Bunt and Run Situation
In this situation, the runner is on a straight steal of second base.
The bunter’s obligation is to bunt only a strike and try to bunt the ball hard towards the third baseman, making the third baseman field the ball and have to get the runner at first.
The runner that was initially on first, who is on the run now towards second, if he sees the third baseman come in and field the ball but there is no one moving to covering third, we’ll continue on to third, thus giving us a runner on third with a possibility of also having a runner at first.
The hitter bunts strikes only. So this is a play that is more effective against a pitcher who throws a lot of strikes and especially fast balls early in the count. The bunter should grip the bat tightly to create a hard bunt that is fielded by the third baseman.
When the runner knows the ball is on the ground, he looks to third to see if the base is going to be covered. He must not slow down or break his stride; therefore he must decide on going to third at least 15 feet before he gets to second base, so he can then dip out and run slightly to the outside of the baseline to make a good turn at second base.
The runner, after touching second, wants to have as straight a line as possible going towards third. A wide turn at second will cause the runner to make more steps and valuable time being lost getting to third.
Fake Bunt and Run Situation
In this situation, we have runners at first and third. With less than two outs, we would like to get the runner into scoring position from first base.
The hitter squares around like in a normal sacrifice situation. As the pitch comes close to the plate, he pulls the bat back. The runner at first is on a straight steal to second base. The runner at third is holding unless the ball is thrown away, and then he would try to score.
This is an exceptionally good play to run if the runner at first is a very important run and you want to get them in scoring position. It also keeps you and the team out of the double-play situation.
Safety squeeze is most often used with runners on first and third with no outs. If the team wants to score the runner from third and advance the runner from first to second, they could use a safety squeeze.
The bunter sacrifice bunts to the first base side. The runner on first reads the bunt. When the bunt is on the ground, he advances to second. The runner on third is going to advance to the plate if the ball is on the first base side.
If his bunt is to the third base side, he must go as far as the third baseman goes. If the third baseman makes a throw to first, then the runner on third can score.
If you don’t spend much time going over situational hitting during your regular baseball practices, now’s the time to consider setting aside some time for it. Did you like this blog post? If so, be sure to share it with your fellow coaches and players!