Monday, November 27, 2006

Getting the "BIG" Out

Defending the Squeeze

The hardest play to defend in baseball is the suicide squeeze play. It fact, if the squeeze bunt is executed perfectly it is almost impossible to record an out at the plate. Over the years, our team has tried a number of techniques to guard against squeeze. Even though many worked in theory, none of them worked in the game.

Last year, an old friend provided a bunt defense his team ran to prevent the suicide squeeze bunt in tight situations. Michael Gomez, the head coach at Central Catholic in San Antonio, Texas, explained how his team would bring in their slowest outfielder to stand ahead of the pitcher. He would push the other outfielders to the gaps, narrowing the distance left by the absent outfielder. The rest of the infield plays on the grass, guarding against the slow roller generated by the hitter.

As the pitcher goes to the plate, the outfielder who is guarding against the squeeze prepares to field a bunt. If the pitch is bunted, the outfielder will field the ball and check the runner at third base. If the runner stays at third base, the outfielder will record the out at first. If the runner tries to score, the outfielder will defend home plate. If the hitter picks up two strikes during their at-bat, the outfielder will move behind the mound and guard against a ground ball up the middle.

The biggest question about this play is "Does it Work?" The answer is "YES!!!" We recorded outs using this defense in key spots throughout the summer season. Not only does the defense prevent the bunt, but the outfielders movement literally distracts the hitter into fouling off or completely missing pitches.

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