Think the Game

Caught Rounding Third

The Situation:

Runner on second, one out. The team at the plate is down by 2 in the top of the 6th inning. Both the runner on second and the hitter have above-average speed.

The Play:

The hitter hits a sharp ground ball between third and short that seems destined for left field. The runner on second immediately reads it as a hit and breaks for third. The shortstop ranges deep into the hole and lays out, gloving the ball on the outfield grass. The runner headed to third has his head down as he charges towards the base. The third base coach, realizing the shortstop has kept the ball from going into the outfield, holds up his arms in the stop sign, but the runner doesn’t see him. The runner rounds third and suddenly hears his third base coach screaming, “On the bag! On the bag! Back, back!”

The Outcome:

The shortstop has raised up to a knee from the outfield grass and snaps a throw to third. The runner slams on the brakes, but he’s already around the bag. He dives back, but the throw beats him and the third baseball slaps on a tag. The runner is out.

What Went Wrong:

This is a tough play. The runner on second had the right approach because you always want to anticipate scoring when a ball seems like it’s going to get through the infield. But there’s no excuse for not being aware of what’s going on around you. Because the ball was hit in the hole, the runner has a good view of the play developing in front of him. He should have known that, at the very least, the shortstop was ranging towards the outfield to try to make a play. By the time the shortstop actually got to the ball, he may have been beyond the runner’s view. But as soon as the runner loses sight of the ball, he has to pick up the third base coach. There’s no excuse for putting your head down when the ball is behind you. The third base coach was putting up the stop sign as soon as the shortstop fielded the ball on the dive. That should have given the runner enough time to stop on the bag or get back to the bag before the throw. But the momentary delay caused by not picking up the third base coach was costly. Remember, always be aware of your surroundings. Pick up the ball, or if the play is behind you, pick up your base coach. Always be aware. Always think the game.