Photos by Hillary Ehlen
The double play in baseball is one of the more exciting plays to happen throughout a game. It swings the momentum and not only gets the crowd buzzing, but ignites some energy into the team completing the double play.
Sometimes it seems like a routine play for the players. But there’s a lot more that goes into it. Pitching, fielding the ball cleanly, timing and accuracy are all needed to execute a double play. The NDSU baseball team in 2017 was sharp in all these areas. Not only did the Bison break the program record in fielding percentage (.973), they set a record with 53 double plays.
Two key cogs in that infield return in senior second baseman Drew Fearing and sophomore shortstop Bennett Hostetler.
“It’s for sure something we’re proud of and we like doing,” Hostetler said. “The pitchers really like it as well. It’s a whole pride thing for the team. The pitchers know if they get into a jam, they’re one pitch away from getting a ground ball double play. We’re always ready for a double play. It’s one of the more fun things to do when you’re fielding the ball.”
The 53 double plays in 56 games played ranked 34th in the nation. Fresno State was No. 1 with 73 turned in 60 games.
“I didn’t know about the record or knew anything about it,” Fearing said. “We saw it when we were 3-4 double plays away and we had a couple weekends left. It’s really cool and hopefully we can break it again this year.”
With two new starters in the pitching rotation, having a solid presence in the infield is key. Fearing said last season the pitchers did a good job of hitting their spots to force a lot of ground balls. And several times when the opposing team was threatening to score, a double play to end the inning shifted the energy between the dugouts.
“It’s a big momentum swinger when a team has guys on base with an opportunity to score and then we get a double play to end the inning and we’re back in the dugout ready to hit,” Hostetler said. “That’s big because baseball is all about momentum.”
(through Feb. 19)
Hometown: Osakis, Minn.
Games Played: 147
Batting average: .289
Fielding Percentage: .965
Hometown: Bozeman, Mont.
Games Played: 58
Batting average: .268
Fielding Percentage: .952
TURNING THE DOUBLE PLAY
6-4-3 DOUBLE PLAY THROUGH THE EYES OF SECOND BASEMAN DREW FEARING
“I try to get to the base as quick as possible because Bennett fields the ball quickly and throws it to me very fast. He has unbelievable hands and he always feeds it perfectly on my left side where I can catch it and throw it to first.”
“Ideally, I’ll have my left foot on the base and when Bennett throws me the ball, I’ll take my right foot and step across the base so I’m on the inside of the baseline and make my throw to first.”
Turning the double play
“I just have my hands next to each other as I’m about to catch the throw. Ideally, I don’t even close my glove. It goes in my pocket and I grab it quickly and throw to first.”
4-6-3 DOUBLE PLAY THROUGH THE EYES OF SHORTSTOP BENNETT HOSTETLER
“My first read is where the ball is hit. If it’s hit to Drew and it’s further away from second base, I have more time to get to second. I’ll be in an athletic stance waiting for any kind of throw, but Drew usually puts it right at my chest.”
“I usually stand at the backside of the base with my chest squared to Drew so he has a big target.”
Turning the double play
“It’s pretty much just getting your hands close together and working on transferring the ball as quick as you can and making an accurate throw to first.”