Friday, February 5, 2021

Teachable - Passing Runners in Anytown, USA

In this Teachable Moment, tmac reviews a travel baseball play that can happen anywhere. Passing Runners in Anytown, USA features a grand slam wherein the excited baserunners start celebrating and swarm their batter-runner before three of the four runners touches home plate. What's an umpire to do: is there an appeal to be made or are all outs automatic in this situation?

First and foremost, we note that the rules are substantially similar across all levels of baseball: the largest difference is that, in the case of an appeal, NFHS (high school) allows for dead ball appeals whereas at the upper levels NCAA/OBR, the ball must be live during an appeal.

That said, we see that during this home run, preceding/lead runner R3 runs to and touches home plate: his run will count regardless of this play's outcome, as the batter-runner will run to and touch first base.

R2, however, stops short of home plate and waits to celebrate with his teammates, inadvertently causing R1 to pass him. Under OBR 5.09(b)(9), a runner is out when—"he passes a preceding runner before such runner is out," so R1 is out for passing R2 even though it appears R2 caused the passing to occur ("A runner may be deemed to have passed a preceding (i.e., lead) runner based on his actions or the actions of a preceding runner").

Next, the batter-runner passes R1 in a similar fashion, so BR is also out for passing a preceding runner. If there was one out to begin play (or two outs), the inning would already be over at this point: R3's run counts and BR is credited with a one-RBI hit.

If there were zero outs to begin play, however, that leaves R2 as the only baserunner on the field who hasn't yet scored and who hasn't yet been declared out. If R2 continues to the dugout without touching home plate (as is the case here), his run shall count and play continues with two outs. The defense, naturally, can then exercise Official Baseball Rule 5.09(c)(2) [or lower level equivalent] and appeal R2's failure to touch home plate to both nullify the run and pick up an inning-ending third out ("he fails to touch each base in order before he, or a missed base, is tagged"). Note that once R2 returns to the dugout, it is too late for him to return to correct his triple play-inducing error.

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Passing Runners in Anytown USA as R2's Celebration Causes Triple Play (CCS)


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