Our 2015 series on learning baseball from those who teach is best continues with this week’s feature on executing the sacrifice bunt…from University of Dayton coach, Tony Vittorio.
By Tony Vittorio, Head Baseball Coach, University of Dayton
At every youth camp that we host at The University of Dayton, we spend time on bunting. After having the life skills session about never lie, steal, or cheat, I ask the campers, who in this group likes to bunt? Before they answer, I remind them not to lie. After they think about it, very few hands are raised. Then I ask them the question, who likes to win? Every single one of their hands is raised.
I will then explain to them that if you sincerely like to win then you will like to bunt. Because bunting helps your team win. I then ask them, who likes to hit for a high batting average? Every one of their hands is raised. You see, bunting will help your team to win and will allow for you to individually raise your batting average.
At the University of Dayton, you must be able to sacrifice bunt- give yourself up for your team. Every offensive player, before getting into the lineup, has to be able to sacrifice bunt, period, the end. The obvious reason why is that the sacrifice bunt allows a member of your team to get into scoring position. The more that your team is in scoring position, the better opportunity your team has to score runs. The more runs your team scores, the better chance your team has to win.
There are many ways to teach the sacrifice bunt. Here are the absolutes of sacrifice bunting:
1. You must move up in the box in your stance – provides more fair territory to play with.
2. You must be in a decent knee flex – diminishes the strike zone vertically.
3. Your bat must be at the top of the strike zone and parallel to the ground – best angle to bunt from.
4. There must be separation in your hands – allows better barrel control.
5. You may not have a lot of vertical separation between your bat and your nose – creates better vision.
6. You must create the angle of your bat early – runner on first, bunt goes to the first base side, runner on third, bunt goes to the third base side.
7. You must bunt the top half of the baseball – assures that the bunted ball will be on the ground.
Can you remember the eighteen inning game between the Washington Nationals versus the San Francisco Giants playoff series in the fall? Each team was relying on a walk off home run to win the game. The wind was blowing at a rampant pace straight in during the entire game. From the ninth inning on, there were many fly outs to the outfield. If one of the teams approach was the good old approach of “get them on, get them over, and get them in,” this game could have ended a lot sooner and even with a different result. Pitcher’s innings had to be extended throughout the course of the game which affected both teams during the series.
After the game I was able to talk with Craig Stammen, who is a right handed pitcher for the Nationals and a University of Dayton Alumni. We discussed that if the Nationals just could have “played baseball” and got a guy on and then sacrifice bunted a guy over that the Nationals had a better opportunity to win the game. We both agreed.
If you love to win, you must love to sacrifice bunt.
Until next time…………… Tony Vittorio