Rule: If the run at 3rd can beat you, do not throw to 2nd base. If the runner at 1st breaks early, let him go.
The 1st & 3rd play (offense) is one of the most difficult to defend if the base runners do their jobs--even if you have your best players handling the ball. The idea behind this play is to make the defense commit to the runner going to 2nd base. That runner must get into a run down, getting the defense to commit. The ideal situation is to have a left handed 1B running toward 2B with the ball in his glove. The 1B must stop, spin and throw to home.
Most teams will do a 1st & 3rd play when there are two outs. You must school your team (everyday) in every type of play a team may use this is a great way to work on ball handling, decision making, and rundowns. Teach what you want on each type of play and work on it daily.
Early Break by 1b Runner
This occurs when the offense is trying to get a long rundown between 1b & 2b, to allow the 3b runner to score.The pitcher is usually one of your best athletes. Have him get the runner to commit, but he doesnt have to do it all by himself. Step off the rubber, make a ball fake to 2nd to make the 1b runner stop. Then quickly set feet and check the 3b runner, if he has committed, make a throw to home. If the 3b runner has not committed, run at the 1b runner, making him commit.
Then give the ball up to one of the infielders. With two outs, the 1B man should close up the rundown follow the runner for a quick throw and tag. 3B man should keep his eye on the 3b runner, yelling home if he breaks toward the plate. The worst thing that should happen, besides the runner scoring, is the 1b runner making 2b safely. Dont let them score!
1b runner breaks to 2B. If he is trying to steal 2B, throw through only if the catcher: has a good grip, a fast ball called, and has a chance to throw out the runner. If the 1b runner stops to get in a rundown, the 1B man must close up the rundown. Again, dont let them score 3B man must keep eye on 3b runner and yell home if he breaks. If is very difficult for a catcher to come up throwing and check the 3B runner before the throws to 2B. Either come up throwing to 2B, ball fake, or throw back to P.
1b runner delays to 2B. If the 1b runner stops to get in a rundown, the 1B man must close up the rundown. Again, dont let them score 3B man must keep eye on 3b runner and yell home if he breaks. It is very difficult for a catcher to come up throwing and check the 3B runner before the throws to 2B. Either come up throwing to 2B, ball fake, or throw back to P.
Provided by Chip Baker, Florida State University