Running at a runner
We’ve all seen a situation where a runner gets caught off a base and proceeds to get into a rundown. It could have been the result of a pickoff play or maybe just rounded a bag too far and got caught in
between bases. When runners make this kind of mistake, it is extrememly important for the defense to take advantage of it and get the out the runner is giving you. Like everything else in the game, it is a lot easier said than done. When the defender with the ball is far away and the runner is caught between two bases, what the defender does first can mean the difference between safe and out.
Unless the runner is moving towards one bag or the other, the correct first step is for the defender to run at the runner. Most players understand this first step but there can be more to it than meets the eye. There are a few options you have when running at a runner. Which one you choose generally depends on what your coach wants you to do.
Here are the three options:
- Run directly at the runner and force him to commit to one base or the other. When he commits, throw to the guy at that base and get into the rundown process. If he doesn’t commit, continue running at him and tag him if you can. It’s always good if you can avoid a throw.
- Run to the left of the runner. That forces him to return towards the previous bag. Throw the ball to the player at that bag who can tag him or start the rundown.
- Run to the right of the runner. This forces the runner to start towards the next base. When the throw is made to the teammate at that base, he will begin to run the runner back to the previous base to start the rundown.
When a runner is directly between bases, I actually prefered the third option but every situation is different. Each has pros and cons so decide for yourself. The important thing is that infielders know the options available and the pros and cons of each.
Tomorrow’s post: People don’t like to be pushed