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It’s a sacrifice bunt it can pay off

High school baseball teams reap rewards by embracing an old-school play


In today’s high school baseball, most of the attention is focused on pitch counts, hitting and base running.

A key sacrifice bunt often goes unnoticed. But it remains an important part of baseball, one that can help win games.

“Bunting is extremely important,” said Cherry Creek coach Marc Johnson. “They don’t bunt as much as they used to, but it’s still a big part of our game, particularly in close games when you have to advance runners.

“A lot of teams have kind of gotten away from bunting, trying to play the big fly ball. I’m still old school. I like to hit and run, and I like to bunt.”

Bunting isn’t glamorous and getting a productive out doesn’t draw the same attention as a home run.

“I’ve seen a lot of bunting this year, honestly,” said D’Evelyn coach Dan Porreco. “Bunting is still alive. Nowdays, kids don’t like to bunt. They don’t want to sacrifice their at-bat. It could be a great weapon, but I don’t know, they don’t like to sacrifice.

“That part of the game has changed... They want to hit it. They want the glory. “

Bunting, however, can decide games the same as a walk-off hit.

“When you go up and down the order of nine guys, all your guys have to be able to hit the ball and bunt because it’s part of high school baseball,” said Arapahoe coach Jim Dollaghan. “Our guys have the green light to bunt any time they want to.

“When we do our bunting drills, we talked about the importance of it. When I give the bunt signal, the player should be proud that I have confidence in him, in the team game, to move the guy over.”

A sacrifice bunt, also called a sacrifice hit, is not counted as an at-bat. A sacrifice is when a batter bunts the ball before there are two outs in a manner that allows a runner or runners on base to advance to another base.

The batter almost always sacrifices his chance to a get a hit, but sometimes reaches base because of an error or fielder’s choice. If runners still advance in that situation, the play is still scored a sacrifice and not an error or fielder’s choice.

“Bunting in baseball is one of the most important things because if you get a guy on base, the way to move him over is to bunt and get him in scoring position for the next guy up,” said Arapahoe junior Hunter Jackson. “It is overlooked and some people look down on it , but a bunt is really a way to help out the team.

“Whenever I get the bunt signal, I try to get the bunt down and move the runner over so the next guy up can do his job.”

Mountain Vista senior Zach Paschke agrees.

“Bunting is a big part of high school baseball because a lot of kids don’t bunt,” he said. “They think they can put it out of the park. When I get the bunt sign, I just want to get on base because I have the speed to do it.”

Most of the time, sacrifice bunts are not used in lopsided games, but are employed in close games when a run can determine the outcome. And the bunt is a way for teams to play small ball and manufacture runs.

“We have a lot of guys that can bunt and we work on it all the time,” said Mountain Vista coach Ron Quintana. “Bunting is something else you can add to your toolbox. Everything in high school baseball is huge, but we work on our bunting game and we work on our bunt defense.

“I was there a few years ago with small ball when you can bunt and have team speed. You have to manufacture some runs and put pressure on the defense. Early in the game, you want to manufacture but you do it in a different way.’’

Bunting can put pressure on the defense to execute and make quick decisions. It creates situations for physical and mental errors.

“In my opinion bunting has become a lost art,” said Ralston Valley coach Brad Madden. “You see it very little in the professional game. College baseball is using it more now than ever before, and high school baseball is somewhere in between.

“If used correctly and in perfect timing, bunting whether it is for a base hit or as a sacrifice to move a runner into scoring position, can be the difference in a game. Sometimes the threat of person who is a good bunter makes the defense adjust their alignment and opens up more hitting lanes for a batter. Baseball has fallen in love with the home run, but a well-timed, well-placed bunt could be the difference in a victory.”


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