By Ethan Guevin
The Situation: There is a runner on 1st with 2 outs in the 6th. The batter has worked the count to 3-2. The offense is trailing by 1, and everyone knows the man at 1st will be off and running on the pitcher’s delivery. With good speed, the runner at 1st is thinking to score on any double or deep single. The hitter is a third baseman with average speed.
The Play: The hitter slices a ball off the end of the bat down the right field line. The fleet footed runner at 1st had a monster jump on the pitcher’s high leg lift delivery and is rounding second before the hitter has dropped his bat. He touches third before the right fielder has gathered the ball. As he turns the corner at third, the runner peeks to the outfield and sees there will be no play at home. He slows down and starts to coast towards home. Meanwhile, the batter has rounded first and is heading towards second, looking to get into scoring position with 2 outs.
The Outcome: The right fielder gathers the ball, sees that the runner will score and turns his attention to keeping the go-ahead run out of scoring position. He spins and fires a strike to 2nd base. The strength of the throw surprises even the shortstop who is covering. He receives the ball and applies the tag to the foot of the batter just in time for the third out. The throw to 2nd also beats the lead runner jogging in to home plate by a step. Everyone is shocked, as the umpire declares the run doesn’t count. Embarrassed, the lead runner can do nothing but hang his head as he walks back to the dugout.
What Went Wrong?
There is one thing that you can always control on the baseball field—your effort. In this situation, a poor effort costs the offense dearly. Runners who know they will score without a play often slow down going into home. It isn’t that often that slowing down costs a team a run, by having the 3rd out made on a trail runner before the lead runner scores, but when it does, everyone sees the mistake. Being the goat in a situation like this is embarrassing because it is something you have complete control over. At the college level, players making mistakes due to lack of effort are often pulled from the game on the spot because there is no excuse for not playing hard. Whenever you are running the bases, there is rarely a time when you shouldn’t be running as fast as you can. Now that you have read about this easy trap, you know to run as hard as you can to/through home on every play.