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Sacrifice Bunting

This is an excerpt from Baseball: Steps to Success by Kenny Thomas & DJ King.

Bunting is a part of the offensive game that is often referred to as small ball. For some players, bunting for a hit can be a part of their individual skill set that forces a defense to adjust positioning, and we'll cover this skill later in the chapter. For others, bunting is used in sacrifice situations when an offense is willing to give up an out to advance the base runner or base runners. These situations typically occur late in a game with a runner on first (figure 10.1), a runner on second, or runners on first and second (figure 10.2), with zero outs. It can also occur with a runner on third (figure 10.3). By sacrificing a runner into scoring position, that is, from first to second, the offense assumes that a base hit will then score that runner. By sacrificing a runner from second to third, the offense can then score in various ways other than a base hit, such as a sacrifice fly, a ground ball out with the infield back, a passed ball (a ball that should have been caught by the catcher, but was not, leading to a runner or runners advancing to the next base or scoring), or a wild pitch (a pitched ball thrown in a manner that the catcher had no chance of catching, leading to a runner or runners advancing to the next base), and so on. An offense that can bunt typically puts pressure on a defense. In late-inning situations, this pressure can determine the outcome of a game.

Figure 10.1 Runner on First - Sacrifice to First-Base Side

  1. As the pitcher becomes set, the batter squares to bunt.
  2. The batter should place the bunt on the first-base side between the pitcher and the first-base line.
  3. The runner should get a normal secondary lead and read the angle of the bunt.


If the runner drifts too far off first base in the secondary lead, expecting that the bunt will be executed, but the hitter takes the pitch, then the runner is in danger of getting thrown out by the catcher.


The runner must be aware that the hitter is taught to bunt only strikes in a sacrifice situation. Therefore, he must see contact and a downward angle before he breaks to second.

Figure 10.2 Runners on First and Second - Sacrifice to Third-Base Side

  1. As the pitcher becomes set, the batter squares to bunt.
  2. The hitter should place the bunt on the third-base side of the infield, preferably hard enough to force the third baseman to field it.
  3. Both runners should get a normal secondary lead and read the angle of the bunt.


Bunting the ball back to the pitcher is a big misstep, especially with a left-hander on the mound.


You should be sure to get the bunt toward the line, far enough away from the mound so that the third baseman has to field the ball.

Squeeze Bunting

A squeeze bunt is a sacrifice bunt with a runner on third base. The batter bunts the ball, expecting to be thrown out, but his bunt gives the runner at third base an opportunity to score. Since the bunt is a sacrifice, a squeeze bunt would not be performed with two outs. You would also not attempt a squeeze bunt with two strikes because a foul ball would mean a third strike and an out.

There are two types of squeeze bunts: the suicide squeeze (figure 10.3) and the safety squeeze. It is called a suicide squeeze because the runner at third base goes without knowing if the bunt is successfully placed. If the bunt is misplaced, it is likely that the runner will be out at home. But, if the bunt is good, it is a very hard play for the defense to cover and almost always results in a score.

The safety squeeze is performed like the suicide squeeze, but the runner at third base waits to make sure the bunt is placed correctly before going. It is easier to defend than the suicide squeeze, since the runner waits, and it is not quite as easy to score on.

Figure 10.3 Squeeze Bunt

  1. The technique for this bunt is the same as the standard bunt. The only difference is that the batter does not reveal he is bunting until the pitcher is mid-delivery.
  2. As the pitcher delivers the ball to the plate, the hitter squares to bunt. Either pivot or take a small jab step in order to quickly get into position.
  3. The hitter must make contact with the ball, regardless of where the pitch is located. The bunt just needs to be on the ground.
  4. The runner at third should wait until the pitcher's arm is at its highest point in the arm swing as he delivers to the plate. The runner must be sure that the pitcher is not picking over to third before he breaks at full speed toward home plate.


Your failure to make contact with the ball gives the runner zero protection from being tagged out at home by the catcher.


Get into a good position to put the bat on the ball.


More Excerpts From Baseball: Steps to Success