Runner on second, one out, bottom of the 8th. The offense is behind by one with their 3-hitter at the plate. The runner on second has average speed.
The runner at second knows that the 3-hitter is hot and he knows that he has to score to tie the game. He is being very aggressive on the bases and is ready to take off for the plate when the 3-hitter gets a hold of one. Sure enough, the hitter crushes the next pitch, an absolute shot towards the right side of the field. The runner takes off for the plate.
The second baseman leaps and makes the catch. The runner tries to turn back, but he’s already taken two hard steps. The second baseman flips the ball to second for an easy double play.
What Went Wrong?
On the bases, it is easy to get caught up in the moment. Everyone’s heard the saying, “Freeze on a line drive.” This rule is misleading and wrong. Freezing on a line drive is certainly better than running blindly, but the lack of momentum still sets you up for a possible double play. On a line drive, take one hard step back toward the bag as you continue to read the liner. That’s all it takes to stay out of the double play, and it probably won’t change your chances of scoring or advancing one bit.
There is one other problem here with the runner’s mentality. With less than two outs and the 3-hitter up, it’s understandable that the runner would anticipate a hit and want to score. But in this situation you have to control your emotions on the bases and safeguard against the double play. Even if he only advances to third on a hit, he’s still on third with less than two outs for the 4-hitter. Understand the full situation. Don’t get caught up in the game; slow it down and make smart choices on the bases. Think the Game!