By: Todd Guilliams
Originally Published in: High-Scoring Baseball
Provided by: Human Kinetics
With the bases loaded and less than two outs, the offense is looking to score three or more runs. In this situation, if the defense holds the offense to two runs or less, it has won the skirmish and may gain some momentum from a small moral victory. The buzz phrase for the hitter is "knockout punch," which conveys to the hitter that he is to drive the ball into the opposite-field gap. If the hitter is able to do this, he will clear the bases and will have delivered the knockout punch. With one swing of the bat, the game might be over.
At all costs, the batter must keep the ball off the ground in a bases-loaded situation. The risk of a double play is too great on any ground ball. In batting practice when the hitter hear the phrase "bases-loaded drill" he understands that for that round he must stay inside the baseball and keep the ball off the ground. Calling out the buzz phrases in batting practice and setting up the various situations is an effective way to get batters comfortable with executing each skill. Using daily intrasquad games to focus on the various situations . and buzz phrases allows every batter to experience each situation and learn to execute the proper mental and physical strategy for success. By resetting the situation after each batter, the coach can grade the intent of each player.
At the conclusion of the intrasquad game, the coach can provide feedback to all the hitters about the situations that they encountered that day and remind them of the proper approach. For example, the situations covered that day in an intrasquad game might be runners at first and third and bases loaded. In both situations, the buzzword is "automatic," meaning that the hitter is to attack the inside part of the baseball and keep the ball off the ground. If the defense was unable to turn any double plays during the intrasquad game, the offense was at least moderately successful.
Other examples would be a runner at third with the infield back and a runner at second with no outs. In both situations a ground ball to the right side of the infield will advance the runner and produce a quality at-bat. If no fly balls were hit that day during the intrasquad game, the hitters' intent was excellent. They were trying to get on top of the baseball and hit ground balls to advance the runners. These examples show ways of training hitters to use the proper mental and physical approach in RBI situations. This method allows the coach to provide players with feedback while simplifying the five RBI situations.
No Outs The objective here is to keep the rally going, drive in runners, and stay out of the double play. Again, the batter should get a pitch up and out over the plate that he can drive deep into the outfield gaps. The pressure is all on the pitcher. He has to throw strikes and come after the batter. The hitter must be ready and drive the ball to the opposite gap.
One Out As with no outs, the batter wants to hit early and hit hard, preferably in the air to the opposite gap. A strikeout in this situation is better than a ground-ball double play. At least with a strikeout, the inning is still alive and the baton passes to the next batter.