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Suicide Squeeze: Baseball Base Running Terminology

During a baseball game you might get the excitement of seeing a suicide squeeze.  The term is somewhat self-explanatory since it involves a do-or-die game plan and is confined to a small area of the field.  You don’t want to blink and miss this bang bang play.

A suicide squeeze is when a runner is on third base and there are less than 2 outs.  There could be 2 outs but a force at first base would negate the run regardless.  The runner takes off as if he is stealing home plate, and the hitter squares around to bunt the ball.  The hitter HAS to make contact with the pitch, preferably putting it in fair territory.  This way the runner can score easily since he is already in full stride towards home.

If the pitch is out of the strike zone, the hitter still needs to make an effort to make contact with the pitch to either put the ball in play or at least foul it off.  By fouling off the pitch, the runner cannot be tagged out by the catcher who will be waiting for him at home.  The team hitting also gets another chance to score the run on the next play.

Suicide Squeeze

The runner takes off before the pitch and scores easily after the ball is bunted

A suicide squeeze is risky because if the hitter misses the pitch altogether, the catcher can simply catch the ball and tag the runner who will be right there.  A way to avoid this guaranteed is out is to run a safety squeeze, where the runner at third does not take off for home until the ball has been bunted by the batter.  This allows the runner to retreat to third if the ball is fielded by the pitcher while being able to score easily when it is bunted down the lines.

The key to a good suicide squeeze is pretty simple: you need a fast runner at third base and a good bunter in the batter’s box.  A slow runner can still score, but the faster the better.  Also, a pitcher who throws a lot of strikes or pitches to contact is ideal for successfully executing a suicide squeeze.  You don’t want a wild pitcher who can’t find the strike zone and makes it tougher on the hitter to get the bunt down.

When the score is close late in a game, a suicide squeeze can be a great way to get the tying or go-ahead run.  Power hitters are better suited to get a sacrifice fly or hit a ground ball up the middle if the infield is back, but better contact hitters may be able to bunt with ease and can score the run with small ball.  This is one of the plays in baseball that can give a team momentum and determine the outcome of a game.

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