Monday, July 25, 2016

Case Play 2016-7 - When a Ball hits a Broken Bat [Solved]

A batted ball hit a broken bat in fair territory at Yankee Stadium during New York's game-winning play Monday night, resulting in Baltimore's final out and a 2-1 victory for the Bronx Bombers.

A batted ball hits a broken bat in fair territory.
Play: With two out and a runner on first, Orioles batter Ryan Flaherty hit a 105 mph fastball from Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman with such force that Flaherty's bat broke and launched, alongside the baseball, onto the infield. Replays indicate the batted ball actually ended up hitting the detached barrel of the broken bat as Orioles baserunner R1 Noland Reimold avoided the pair of projectiles, 2B Umpire Brian Knight confirming the legality of Reimold's successful evasion. Yankees second baseman Starlin Castro ultimately scooped up the deflected grounder and threw to first baseman Rob Refsnyder ahead of B1 Flaherty's arrival.

Case Play Question: Is this the proper result (B1 out on the 4-3 putout) or is there an alternative ruling? If this is not interference or some similar infraction, under what circumstances—regarding the bat and/or regarding the baserunner—would this be subject to interference? Had there been only one out, under what circumstances could this play have ended the game (e.g., a double play)?

Case Play Solution: This is the proper result, as a ball hitting a broken bat in fair territory is live and in play. By contrast, a broken bat contacting a batted ball in foul territory results in a foul ball. The relevant rule is OBR 5.09(a)(8) Comment:
Rule 5.09(a)(8) Comment (Rule 6.05(h) Comment): If a bat breaks and part of it is in fair territory and is hit by a batted ball or part of it hits a runner or fielder, play shall continue and no interference called. If a batted ball hits part of a broken bat in foul territory, it is a foul ball.
This would be interference if Flaherty had thrown his whole (e.g., not broken) bat into fair territory and interfered with a defensive player attempting to make a play, and similarly interference if the runner touched the batted ball or hindered the fielder's play on the batted ball—either before or after the ball deflected off the broken bat. The runner's interference would have ended the game via a double play if the interference was willful and intentional.

Video: Odd sequence in New York closes out the Orioles-Yankees game ("Read more")
Alternate Link: Broken bat groundout ends Baltimore's hopes in a one-run affair (NYY)


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