Friday, May 20, 2022

Ask UEFL - KBO Run Nullified Due to Force Double Play

This Ask the UEFL question comes from the Korea Baseball Organization, as umpires cancelled a game-winning run in extra innings after a fly ball to left field turned into a double-play on two trailing runners.

During Wednesday's KBO matchup between SSG Landers and Doosan Bears, Bears batter Jo Soo-haeng stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and one out, hitting a fly ball to shallow left field. SSG left fielder Oh Tae-gon dove in attempt to catch the sinking fly, but our 3B Umpire going out on the play signaled "safe" to rule no catch, or trap.

While leading baserunner R3 Kim Jae-ho appeared to score far ahead of the defense retiring trailing runners R2 Jung Soo-bin (tagged out between second and third) and R1 An Jae-seok (forced out at second base), umpires ruled the winning run had not scored after all, leading Doosan to challenge the call.

The call was confirmed via Replay Review: both R1 and R2 were forced out and no run scored, despite R3 touching home plate far in advance of R1 and R2 being put out.

The reason is the same one we see on "standard" inning-ending double plays on a ground ball to the shortstop, who throws to the second baseman for one, and back to the first base for two, negating any potential runs due to the third out force play.

This is not a Time Play: It is a simply a pair of force outs on R2 and R1 for the second and third outs of the inning, respectively. Had the defense instead tagged second base to force R1 out prior to tagging R2, R1's retirement as the inning's second out would have removed the force on R2 such that tagging R2 somewhere between second and third base would be a non-force tag play. In such an event, this would be a time play as R2's third out would no longer be due to a force out, meaning that R3's run would count due to R3 touching home plate prior to the third out (which is not a force out) being made.

The relevant rule, to review, is Official Baseball Rule 5.08(a) Exception, which states, "A run is not scored if the runner advances to home base during a play in which the third out is made (1) by the batter-runner before he touches first base; (2) by any runner being forced out; or (3) by a preceding runner who is declared out because he failed to touch one of the bases."

Although not strictly necessary for a force-third-out play like this one in which OBR 5.08(a) specifically cancels the run as opposed to umpire judgment that is used during a time play, a "score the run" or "disallow the run" signal might help communication-wise. Remember, the wash out signal is distinct from the safe mechanic in that washing out a run is signaled by raising both arms above the head whereas the safe sign is much more horizontal in nature.

In sum, though unconventional, this was an inning-ending force out as both R2 and R1 were forced to advance to their next bases by virtue of the batter becoming a runner (uncaught fly ball) | Video as follows:

Alternate Link: KBO runs don't count as inning-ending force out prompts runner confusion (CCS)


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