Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Ask UEFL - NCAA Loss After Runner-Umpire Collision

Saturday's Henderson State-Northeastern State NCAA DII Tournament game ended on a play in which RiverHawks batter-runner Blaze Brothers collided with the first base umpire while running the bases before getting up and being tagged out sliding into second base.

By the end of the Reddies-RiverHawks NCAA Central Regional game, Northeastern State had cut into Henderson State University's 11-5 lead to begin the 9th inning, tallying five times before the final out at second base.

The rally was cut short thanks to a baseball (and basketball, and football, and hockey) rule common across all levels of play that prescribe no penalty in the event of a runner-umpire collision.

We (very recently) published an Ask the UEFL entitled "Player/Ump Collsions & Umpire Interference" and encourage you to refer to that article and instructional video for an in-depth analysis of the two types of umpire interference.

As for the Reddies-RiverHawks game-ending play, knowing that absent these two circumstances the umpire is considered part of the field—alive and in play—the umpire's task is simple: to do the best job possible in avoiding a runner or fielder. Head on a swivel and try to maintain situational awareness to know where the players are.

If an accident does occur, knowing the rules—that there's nothing that can be done—makes moving on easy, at least by rule. Emotionally, it becomes much harder as game management becomes paramount. Although objectively it is quite obvious what the rule is, this does little to appease a coach who possibly just lost an out or a run.

If this occurs earlier in the game then the final out, offer an explanation. Allow a vent if you will, eject if necessary, and move on with it.

However, if like this game, this results in the final out. The game is indeed over, so there is little value in remaining on the field to confer or discuss the matter with the coach other than to explain what happened, what the rule is, and then to leave.

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Umpire-Runner collision contributes to game ending during rally (CCS)


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