As a youth baseball coach, one of the toughest lessons to teach young baseball players is that unless time is set, the ball is always live.
Thankfully now I have something to show the next practice team to further instill those lessons, thanks to Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr.
The Braves trailed the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-4 in the bottom of the fifth inning Monday night, when Acuña led the innings by drawing a four-pointer road. The next batter, first baseman Matt Olson, walked as well, sending Acuña into second.
But the outfielder wasn’t content to stop there.
Watch this head-up play from Acuña as he takes extra base, first-to-third on the walk:
Acuña noticed that third baseman Max Muncy had his back turned to him, and was in no rush to cover third base. So the outfielder rounded out second and took a dead sprint to third. By the time the Dodgers, and Muncy, reacted, it was too late, and the Braves had runners in the corner with no one out.
The heady game ended up stealing the Braves’ run. The next batsman hit a ground ball short, and while the Dodgers were able to force Olson out at second, Acuña, who had now started the game at third instead of second, was able to score at fielder’s selection. The next two batters were lined up and grounded, respectively, meaning the Braves might have been held scoreless in the inning, had Acuña not made this head-up play.
Atlanta went on to lose 8-6, but if nothing else, I have a talking point for practice Wednesday night.