|Who is out first? Advancing R2 or returning R3? Or both?|
Video: Alexi Casilla out after escaping pickle the long way; Umpires confer to determine runner right-of-way
Play: With one out and two on (R2, R3), the batter hits a ground ball to first base, where F3 fires to catcher F2 as R3 breaks for home plate. As F2 fields the low throw, R3 reverses course and heads back toward third base, determined to stay in the rundown long enough for R2 to assume occupation of third base. As R3 nears third base, R2 has arrived and for a brief instant, both R2 and R3 occupy third base. Yet rather than allow F2 to tag him, R3 continues running past third base, up the left field foul line, as R2 holds his position on the base. At this point, F2 tags R2. F2 never tags R3. Chicken or egg? Who is out and who is safe—or are both out? Or both safe? Is B1's placement at second base proper? How shall play proceed? (1 pt)
Answer: R3 is out; R2 is safe; this play was correctly officiated. Because R3 began the play on third base, Rule 7.01 prohibits him from attempting to return to second base. Therefore, when he passes third base and runs down the line, he is either out for leaving his baseline under Rule 7.08(a)(1) or he is out for abandonment under Rule 7.08(a)(2).
Red Herring Rules: R3 is not out under Rule 7.03(a) for he and R2 were never tagged while both runners were attempting to occupy third base. Had there been a tag, R2 would have been out. R2 is likewise not out for passing a preceding runner as in Rule 7.08(h), for both runners having occupied third base at the same time, they are considered to have pulled even. Because R3 was prohibited from returning to second base, with R2 not advancing past the third base bag, R3 could not have been passed. R3 is also not out for confusing the defense and/or making a travesty of the game under Rule 7.08(i) as the defense did not miss out on the opportunity to make a play based on R3's actions after having touched third base, R2 arriving at third and B1 arriving at second base on the rundown. R3 was out for abandonment or leaving his baseline prior to the necessitation of Rule 7.08(i).