Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A double graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and Biletnikoff Award.
Bonfield uses rare rule to his advantage
Arkansas' Luke Bonfield bats while Memphis' Jason Santana catches during a game Tuesday, April 18, 2017, in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE The three most common ways to reach base are with a hit, a walk or a hit-by-pitch.
Arkansas outfielder Luke Bonfield has developed a knack for a fourth method that works as well.
Bonfield reached base twice Tuesday by virtue of catcher's interference against Memphis - one apiece by catchers Jason Santana and Sam Nozicka. It marked the fifth and sixth times this season that Bonfield has reached base on such a call.
According to Baseball-Reference.com, catcher's interference is defined as "when the catcher makes contact with the batter (or his bat) during a pitch, or otherwise hinders or impedes a batter's ability to hit a pitched ball. In order for catcher's interference to be enforced, the batter must have been in a legal batting position with both feet within the batter's box."
To give an idea of how rare it is a batter to be interfered with twice in a game, it has happened only six times in MLB history. It is not an official stat in college baseball.
The rarity of the call led to an obvious question following the Razorbacks' 16-7 win Tuesday: Why is Bonfield so good at causing the catcher to interfere with his swing?
"Luke waits a long time to swing," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "He sees the ball deep and a lot of those balls he hits are going to go up the middle or go the other way. I see it happen when he gets down in the count and he's just trying to get a base hit."
Bonfield, who is batting .329 with 7 home runs and 37 RBI this season, went more in-depth.
"The way I look at mechanics is that I want to create early bat speed," Bonfield said. "That means you're getting the bat back here (emphasizes reaching back) before you go forward.
"When you get it back, it stays in the zone longer. I also stand pretty far back in the batter's box. I think a combination of those two things is doing it. I'm not trying to do it at all."
Memphis is the second team to interfere with Bonfield twice this season. Alabama's Taylor Poe had two interference calls during the Razorbacks' series there, although in separate games.
Bonfield said he has been surprised with the frequency in which interference has been called.
"I think it has to do a lot with the catchers, who are setting up with me closer than they think," Bonfield said. "(The impact) kind of shocks me as much as it shocks them."
The Razorbacks are scheduled to play Memphis again tonight at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock. Bonfield, the reigning SEC player of the week, is expected to be in the lineup.
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