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  • Rulebook: Baserunner Struck by Batted Ball: Rule 7.08(f)

    Out? Safe?

    by Ken Vanderpoel, MSBL National Umpire-In-Chief 2002

    (This article appeared in the Fall 2002 issue of HardBall Magazine)


    Rule 7.08(f)
    . Any runner is out when…he is touched by a fair ball in fair territory before the ball has touched or passed an infielder. The ball is dead and no runner may score, nor runners advance, except runners forced to advance
    .

    When a runner is struck by a batted ball, he has committed interference and is declared out. Right? Well, not necessarily. Several situations must be considered before applying this rule as it seems to be written.


    Is The Pitcher A Fielder?

    The pitcher is not considered a fielder for the purposes of this rule, unless he touches the ball.  In that case, the rule is enforced as if the pitcher were any other infielder.

    Ball Passes Fielder #1, but Fielder #2 Has Chance

    A ball passes the third baseman untouched, then strikes a runner advancing from second base while he is in front of the shortstop who has an obvious chance to make a play. In this case, the ball is dead and the runner is out.

    Ball Touched by Fielder, Strikes Runner

    Normally, when any fielder touches a batted ball which then strikes a runner, the ball remains live and the runner is not out. A baserunner can not be expected to avoid a deflected ball while running.

    Ball Touched by Fielder, Runner Lets it Touch Him

    If the umpire judges that a runner intentionally lets a deflected ball hit him in order to prevent another fielder from making a play on the ball, he shall be declared out and the ball becomes dead. In addition, the batter-runner will be declared out.

    Batted Ball Strikes Runner Standing On Base

    If a runner standing on third base in fair territory is struck by a batted ball, also in fair territory, he is out. The base provides no protection, unless the batted ball is declared an Infield Fly by the umpire. In that case, the runner is not out; the batter is out by virtue of the Infield Fly Rule.

    Defense Chooses Not to Make a Play

    A batter bunts a ball down the third base line. If the defense allows the ball to roll with attempting to field it and the ball strikes third base before contacting the runner sliding into third, the runner is safe and ball remains in play. Even though the ball has not actually passed a fielder, the runner shall not be in jeopardy of committing interference, because the defense has chosen not to field the ball.

    A Test Situation

    Armed with all this information, make a ruling on the following play: Runner on second base, one out. Batter hits a ground ball to the left side of the infield. The third baseman charges in on the grass to cut it off and the shortstop breaks deep toward the hole as the runner advances.

    The ball is deflected by the third baseman in the direction of the shortstop, who would have had a play, but the ball struck the runner and no play was possible.What is the ruling?

    Ruling

    The runner is not out and the ball remains alive and in play (assuming no intentional interference by the runner). The fact that the shortstop would have been able to make a play had the ball not struck the runner is disregarded, because the ball was first deflected by the third baseman.

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