The offense is trailing 5-0 with 1 out in the 3rd and a runner on 1st. The right-handed batter steps in against the right-handed pitcher with a 3-2 count.
The slider comes in and hangs in the middle of the zone and is crushed into the left center field gap. The center fielder gets a good jump and has a beat on it. The runner at first extends a few steps past second base, waiting to see if the ball will drop. As he takes another step towards third, the center fielder makes a terrific running grab, fully extended. He slows his momentum as he heads into the wall and the left fielder there to back-up the play points and shouts to first. The center fielder takes 2 pro-steps in quick succession and unleashes a long high bullet headed towards first. The runner who stared on 1st has re-touched second base and is sprinting back to the bag at first.
The throw is an absolute cannon and right on the money. The only question is will it beat the runner back to the bag. The first baseman stretches to the ball, but it’s just for show. The runner is easily out at first base for the improbable inning ending double play. The base runner, pitcher, batter, and crowd are stunned by the incredible play.
What Went Wrong:
If this play sounds familiar, it’s because it went viral in 2018 when it was made by Ramon Laureano against the Angels. The throw was 321 feet in the air, right on the money. Check it out here.
After watching that play, do you think the base runner made a big mistake? Technically, the answer is yes since he couldn’t get back safely on the throw, but you have to give credit to the great throw. The runner could have shortened it up by a step or two, but his intention was correct in wanting to extend as far as he could and have some momentum, he simply miscalculated how far he could go.
A really positive think the game lesson comes from the left fielder who doesn’t get caught spectating and immediately alerts the center fielder about the runner. Equally impressive is how quickly the center fielder goes from a dead sprint to getting his head around, his body under control and making an incredible throw. Communication is a big lesson here. Without the left fielder, this incredible play may have only been a nice catch. Always look for the next play and always think the game!