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Running Up The Score

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If you watch enough sports, you eventually may hear the phrase "Running up the score".  "Running up the score" happens when a team who is clearly dominating the contest against the opposing team and is ahead in runs by a large margin, exploits their advantage by continuing to run the offense at full strength, stealing bases, bunting, hit and run, etc. when they clearly do not need to.

In sportsmanship circles, there is an unwritten rule of proper conduct in baseball that once a certain level of dominance is reached that the dominant team should "call off the dogs" and cease playing over-aggressively.  While this is intended to not "show up" the other team, teams that do not heed this unwritten rule are sometimes met with anger and confusion.

Never is this seen more than at the youth baseball level.  Below is a response to a LL coach that had been accused of running up the score and wanted some input:

"I manage an 11/12 year old team. We have a lot of good hitters on the team and have been pounding the ball lately. I had three separate kids hit HRs Saturday, two of them 3 run shots. I was accused of running up the score because when the game was 12-1 after the first 3 run HR we had first and third. I gave a take/steal sign to get the kid at first to get him to 2B and remove force out possibility.

The next pitch the kid at bat hits another 3 run Homer and its 15-1. This was the bottom of the third inning. They went 1-2-3 in the top of the fourth and the game was over via mercy rule.

My thinking is that you never know what is going to happen in these games and I've seen on more than one occasion teams blow big leads. Plus, I am trying to teach my kids how to finish games and teams off. I never have been very good at taking my "foot off of the petal" and backing off but at this level it should not be an issue. We're not in coach pitch or Minor Division any more where the kids are babys.

Interested in any opinions and thoughts from experienced coaches."

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Last Updated ( Thursday, April 23 2009 09:07 )  

Double Cut Relay Left Field Line

The Double Cut relay is one of the most beautifully choreagraphed plays in all of baseball.  The Double Cut is the defense's strongest weapon against balls hit down the line or in the alleys.  It requires speed, communication and quick decision making from all players on the field.  The relay's primary goal is to throw out the lead runner trying to score, while the secondary goal is to stop all runners from advancing extra bases.

A Double Cut situation is needed on ALL balls hit to the fence down the line or in the gaps.  In these cases, unless the runners are ridiculously slow, the defense must assume the runner(s) will advance at least two bases, so the defense will set up three (3) bases ahead of the lead runner.  In the flash video on the left, the offense starts with a runner on first base and a ball is hit down the left field line to the fence.

Step 1:  Immediately, the defense assumes a two-base advance, so the relay will be set up to throw to home plate (Runner 1st, three bases away).

Step 2:  Both LF and CF will sprint to the ball.  While the LF will most likely get to the ball first, the CF is there to help back up and help communicate the relay if necessary.  The RF moves down towards the infield to help back up a possible back pick throw to 2B.

Step 3:  The shortstop and second baseman will sprint into relay position, calling to the outfielders for the relay as loudly as possible.  In most cases, the shortstop will handle the lead relay while the second baseman positions himself 5 yards behind the shortstop to protect from any errant throws over the SS's head or short hops.  The relay must be seamless and any missed throws will allow the runners to advance and score, so the second baseman's responsibility is extremely important to this play.  In a perfect relay, you should be able to draw a straight line from the LF, through the relay INFs to the target; in this case, home plate.

Step 4:  While the third baseman covers 3B, the first baseman sprints to second base (trailing the runner) and awaits a possible back pick play to 2B.  This is extremely important, as more often than not, most of the attention is focused on the primary runner and a play at 3B or Home plate.  Many times, the trailing runner can lose focus and round 2B too far and can be back picked at 2B so LOOK FOR THIS PLAY.

Step 5:  The Catcher remains at home and directs the play, lining up the relay Infielders and making the final decision on which option the defense will take.

Option 1: (Primary Play) Relay to HOME
Option 2: Relay/Backpick to 3B
Option 3: Backpick to 2B

Shown at Left:  Option 2

In this video, the defense realizes that although the lead runner (primary play) will score, the batter runner can be easily thrown out at 3B.  The Catcher in this case makes the decision to divert the relay to 3B and nail the batter runner at 3rd.
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