Monday, March 29, 2021

Australian Foul - Runner's Interference with Catcher

A runner's batted ball interference with a catcher during Game 1 of Baseball South Australia's Grand Final between Goodwood and Sturt prompted our latest Ask the UEFL Rules Review feature, as we consider several possible outcomes for a peculiar play at the plate.

Play: With two out and runners on first and third base, Goodwood's batter-runner hits a fly ball hear home plate. As Sturt's catcher attempts to field the batted ball near home plate, Goodwood baserunner R3 attempts to score and touch home plate, resulting in the catcher dropping the fly ball as the two players interact. After the home plate umpire calls the runner out for interference to end the inning, the umpires meet to discuss the play.

Question: Does it matter whether the ball was fair or foul? And if the ball was indeed foul, which batter will lead off the next inning? The broadcasters asked for help on this play, and we're here with an answer.

Analysis: Official Baseball Rule 6.01(a)(10) states that a runner is out for interference when "he fails to avoid a fielder who is attempting to field a batted ball...if the base runner's interference is adjudged not to be intentional, the batter-runner shall be awarded first base."

Thus, in this situation, fair/foul does not matter: the rule specifically makes reference to "batted ball" and not specifically fair or foul ball. Instead, the primary drive of judgment relate to whether the runner's interference was intentional. Here, R3 appears to be primarily concerned with touching home plate: his only offense appears to be failing to avoid F2. Thus, with the interference declared unintentional, R3 is out, BR is awarded first base (albeit, the third out ends the inning), and the following inning will begin with the next batter in the lineup at bat.

Video as follows:


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