A bunt doesn’t seem like a potent offensive weapon but if a team can not defend it properly then it has potential to cause havoc. Let’s take a look at some Little League Coaching Tips for Defense Against a Bunt with a focus on only one base runner.
#1 Runner on First Base
With no one out and a runner on first base, a bunt is being used for the purpose of moving the runner over to second base. This is considered a sacrifice bunt because the intent is to surrender the out at first to put the runner in scoring position. A coach should be looking for this type of strategy in a tight ball game usually later in the game. And with no one out there is much higher chance of this happening because it is so much easier for an opposing coach to sacrifice an out if they have two more to “play with”. If the coach on defense suspects a bunt then it is wise to move the first and third basemen in on the grass. If the bunt is executed properly then the only play for the defense to make is going to be at first base. However, if the ball is bunted too hard then it is possible for a play to me made that would cut down the lead runner. A very poorly bunted ball fielded by the pitcher could actually be turned into a double play. Another scenario could also see the bunt attempt popped up. If a fielder catchers the pop up in the air then they should look to double off the runner on first. It is likely that the runner knows of the bunt and could be running hard to make sure they advance. If the runner is focusing too much on getting to second base then this could leave them vulnerable to be doubled off after a bunt is popped up and caught in the air. A sacrifice bunt will be less likely with one out and a lot less likely with two outs.
#2 Runner on Second Base
With no one out and a runner on second base, a bunt is being used for the purpose of moving the runner over to third base. Again, this is a sacrifice bunt but this strategy in this situation is a little unorthodox because the runner is already in scoring position. What also makes it unorthodox is that it makes bunting up the third base line a risky proposition. Unless the bunt is executed perfectly then it could put the runner advancing from second to third in jeopardy. However, if the defensive team has their corners (first and third basemen) playing deep then the offensive coach could decide that it could be worth being unorthodox because the sacrifice could suddenly turn into a bunt base hit resulting in runners at first and third base. The worst case scenario for the base runner in this situation is if the ball is bunted too hard back at the pitcher or is popped up. If the runner is going hard trying to advance then they could get thrown out or doubled off. Also the short stop may have to move over to cover third base if the third baseman has to commit to running in to field a bunt. Again, with one out the bunt is less likely and with two outs it will be a lot less likely.
#3 Runner on Third Base
With no one out and a runner on third base, a bunt is being used for the purpose of scoring a run. This is the Little League version of the “squeeze play” which in reality is not a true squeeze play because Little League runners are not allowed to leave the base until the pitched ball reaches the plate. This strategy is actually not that unorthodox despite not being a true squeeze play. This bunt would have to be coming up the first base line because bunting up the third base line would be a huge risk. The worst case scenario for the base runner in this situation is if the ball is bunted too hard back at the pitcher or is popped up. If the runner is going hard trying to advance then they could get thrown out or doubled off. Again, the bunt would be less likely with one out and a lot less likely with two outs.
For a Little League coach bunting can be a great weapon, source of head aches and confusing all at the same time. Offensively, a coach will have to determine when and with whom to utilize the bunt. Defensively, a coach will have to be a where of when a bunt is going to be used and how to defend it.
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