Little League Baseball Rules- Part II
In this second edition of Little League baseball rules we are going to go over some things that happen to batter’s. There are a lot of things that can happen in a batter’s box besides hitting. I hope this helps you get through some of those things if they happen to you or your player’s.
Getting hit by a pitched baseball is one of the most traumatic things that most young baseball players have to deal with. As a coach I have always addressed this with my parents before the first game of the year. It is going to happen and when it does the last thing the player needs is to have the spectators add to the perceived pain with all of their, “Ooh’s and aah’s.” If the parents just cover their mouth’s and wait for a second the player will get up and run to first base most of the time. Very rarely is the player truly hurt by a pitched baseball it stings and if you can get your parents to react as if it were a base on balls the player will usually do the same.
Enough of that on to the rule. If a player is struck by a pitched ball and it is not in the strike zone or offered at by the batter the batter gets to advance to first base without the possibility of being put out.
That is easy, or is it. When a young player leans into a pitch he can be hit by an inside pitch that would have been a strike. In this instance the umpire should call it a dead ball no runners may advance and the pitch should be called a strike.
A player can also be hit by a pitch that they do not make any attempt to get out of the way of. I have even had a few players figure out if they lean in a little the pitch will hit them and then they get on base. In some cases the only way that player might reach base other than by a walk so they lean in. When a player does this the umpire should call a dead ball and the batter has to continue the at bat but the pitch is called a ball if it was not in the strike zone.
Finally and probably the most controversial situation that can occur is when a player gets hit by a
pitch that they are swinging at. As much as it stings to get hit by a pitched baseball, the sting is worse when you swing at that pitch and it hits you. Unfortunately this is a strike.
When is an out not an out…
An out is not an out when on a third strike to a batter with less than 2 out and first base unoccupied or with 2 outs even if first base is occupied, the catcher does not catch the pitched ball.
The batter then must be forced out or tagged before reaching first base. The best part of this rule is that the pitcher still gets credit for a strike out. The bad part is that the catcher gets charged with an error, or the pitcher gets charged with a wild pitch if the runner reaches first base safely.
So as a kid you were told that nobody bunts with 2 strikes…
Do you know why nobody bunts with two strikes? The reason is because if you attempt to bunt with 2 strikes and the ball goes foul you are out. That seems like enough of a reason for most coaches to take the bunt off with 2 strikes. If a bunted 3rd strike goes foul the ball is dead and no runners may advance. Better off just letting them swing it. A sac fly will at least give the runners a chance to move up with less than 2 outs.
2 hits are worse than one…
Two hits are worse than one when you are the batter who just hit the ball and as you run down to first base the ball hits you. In this instance the batter/ runner is out. You can not make contact with the baseball outside the batter’s box until it has been touched by or passes a fielder. The pitcher a does not count as a fielder unless they touch the baseball.
A side note to this rule is that if the batter has at least one foot in the batter’s box and the other foot has not touched the field outside the batter’s box when they are hit by the ball it is a foul ball.
You hit don’t hit it again
If a batter hits a ball or bunts a fair ball and the bat hits the ball again in fair territory the ball is dead and no runners may advance. Of course this is baseball and very little is black and white. So if the player drops the bat in fair territory and the ball hits the bat but the umpire decides that it was not intentional the ball is live.
But wait there is more because part of this rule states that if a bat is thrown into fair territory and interferes with a players attempt to make a play the batter is out. It does not matter if the interference is intentional or not.
I would strongly recommend that you teach your players to discard the bat in foul territory.
A foul tip is when a pitch is contacted by the bat and goes sharp and direct to the catcher’s hands and is caught by the catcher. A foul tip is a strike. It is not a foul tip if the ball is caught on a rebound unless the ball first hit the catcher’s mitt or hand. The ball is live on a foul tip. If it occurs with 2 strikes the batter is out. Runners may advance on a foul tip.
Batting out of order
I would strongly recommend for any coach out there keep a score book and keep score for both teams even if you are not the home team. Once you read this section on batting out of order you will understand why. Game Changer is a free app that is good for this. The rules for batting order are simple. Both teams have to submit a line-up to the umpire before the game. All batters will follow the order of the line-up until the end of the game. Substitutions will be announced so that the official scorer can keep track of the batting order.
For a team to bat out of order a player must complete a turn at the plate. If an improper batter is discovered in the middle of an at bat the correct batter can assume their place in the batter’s box and the count that exists for the improper batter.
What that means is if the other team sends Timmy to the plate when Johnny is supposed to be up and you as the opposing coach say, “Hey Johnny is supposed to be up,” 2 pitches in with 1 ball and 1 strike on Timmy, Johnny grabs his bat and a helmet and steps up to the plate with the count 1- 1 and nothing happens.
If you wait until the end of the at bat when Timmy rips a single to left and is jumping up and down on first pumping his fists with excitement. Johnny will be called out and all of the runners that advanced on Timmy’s hit will be sent back to the base that they started from. The next batter will be the batter that follows Johnny. This can only happen if you appeal this to the umpire before another pitch or play is attempted in the game.
This is where it gets really fun. If you are not paying attention to the other teams batting order the following scenario can take place. Follow along closely because it gets confusing.
THIS IS PARAPHRASED FROM THE LITTLE LEAGUE RULE BOOK
Assume the first inning batter order to be A, B, C, D, E, F, G, I.
- D walks but he was an improper batter
- A comes up to the plate and takes a pitch (now D has become a legal batter and the proper batter should be E)
- A flies out
- B comes up to bat and takes a ball (now A has become a legal batter and B is the proper batter)
- B walks
- C comes up to bat as the proper batter. (D is on 2nd and B is on 1st. There is 1 out)
- C flies out.
- D is the next batter and he is on 2nd with 2 outs.
What happens at this point is exactly why both teams should keep independent score books during a game. Because all of this happened and nobody on the defensive team made an appeal all of the batters in the inning became legal and since D is on base for his turn at bat he is skipped and without penalty E becomes the legal batter.
As a coach if this situation happens to you during the course of a game I can only imagine that it would be very embarrassing. Please keep score for both teams or designate a parent or coach to do it. An even better idea would be to teach your team how to do it and have a player that is not playing keep score. What better way to keep a player paying attention to what is going on out on the field.
I hope that you have found this informative. If you haven’t been stumped by one of these rules yet good for you. If you are questioning your expertise on the subject of baseball rules I would suggest you spend the $5 it costs to purchase a little league rule book. If you are not playing in a Little League sanctioned league then get the rule book for whatever governing body you play under.
Most of the rules are the same but you don’t want to get caught on a technicality. In the final post of this 3 post series I am going to address a couple of more major division rules and dip into a couple of the Intermediate/ Junior/ Senior division rules.