The Play: With none out, none on, and a two-strike count, the batter attempts to strike a fastball, missing the pitch as it traveled through the strike zone. The catcher, too, misses his catch, as the ball bounces off his glove and into the air, where it strike's the bat as the batter completes his natural backswing. As the deflected ball caroms toward the wall behind home plate, the batter-runner arrives at first base ahead of the catcher's throw.
Question: Using professional rules, what is the call? State what happens to B1 (Is he out or safe? At first base or home plate?) and whether the ball is alive or dead during this odd sequence.
Answer: The batter is out. Explanation: This play is the rarely seen bat-hits-ball element of Backswing/Weak interference, OBR Rule 6.03(a)(3): "He interferes with the catcher’s fielding or throwing by stepping out of the batter’s box or making any other movement that hinders the catcher’s play at home base." Because this rule may be vague and requires explanation, 6.03(a)(3) Comment elucidates and describes the precise "any other movement" scenario depicted in this Case Play:
If a batter strikes at a ball and misses and swings so hard he carries the bat all the way around and, in the umpire’s judgment, unintentionally hits the catcher or the ball in back of him on the backswing, it shall be called a strike only (not interference). The ball will be dead, however, and no runner shall advance on the play.Bold emphasis is mine. To put it all together, the pitched ball, struck at and missed by the batter, bounced into and out of the catcher's glove; this uncaught third strike subsequently was unintentionally hit by the bat as it was in back of the batter and on the backswing; therefore, the call is "strike," the ball is dead, and no advancement occurs. Result: THE BATTER IS OUT.
Note that Rule 6.01(a)(1) Comment ("If the pitched ball deflects off the catcher or umpire and subse- quently touches the batter-runner, it is not considered interfer- ence unless, in the judgment of the umpire, the batter-runner clearly hinders the catcher in his attempt to field the ball") does not apply to this situation, because the ball did not touch the batter-runner: it touched his bat.
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This Case Play discussion was worth one point and, pursuant to UEFL Rule 4-5-b, remained open for 48 hours.